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Fourth Reading Journal Prompt: PLCs and the “Real World”

In “Spinning Out of Control,” Gary Cross argues that the “program-length commercials” on children’s television during the 1980s represented a departure from previous children’s culture in that they created a completely separate world, far from the concerns of adults. With the advent of these PLCs, Cross argues, “the old view that children should learn from the past and prepare for the future is inevitably subverted in a consumer culture where memory and hope get lost in a blur of perpetual change” (packet page 290).

In class, we tried to identify counterarguments to Cross’ theory, but were somewhat stymied by our lack of content knowledge of the PLCs he mentions. To respond to this reading prompt, watch one episode of an 80s-era PLC (lots of them are findable on YouTube), and analyze whether the content of this episode corroborates Cross’ theory. Briefly summarize the content of your episode, and then comment: Do you see any themes or plot elements that would contradict his argument? Or does the narrative of the episode that you watched support his theory that 80s kids’ TV contained no references to, or discussion of, events in the “real world”?

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