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Posts tagged ‘parents’

The Tables Have Turned

In “Who is the Route 29 Batman? This guy,” Michael S. Rosenwald writes of the man two cops had a strange encounter with on Route 29. He was driving a black Lamborghini with a Batman symbol on his license plate. The man pulled over was in a complete Batman costume, the interior of the car was fully accessorized with the Batman logo. His current costume is worth $5,000 and the one he has ordered is $250,000. He is a man who made his wealth as Batman by going to hospitals and playing with sick children. His “name” is Lenny B, as in Batman, Robinson and his inspiration came from his son who was a huge Batman fan. Usually it is the children who want to emulate the parents, but obviously in this situation the tables have turned.

Lenny "Batman" Robinson visiting sick children in a hospital, dressed in his full costume. Clearly a compassionate and non-violent Batman.

 

The original superheroes have their roots in comic books. Children have a strong interest in superheroes partly because they seem to be immune to law, they save the “good guys” and beat the “bad guys.” This is one of the reasons why parents, as seen in The Ten-Cent Plague, had so much trouble allowing their children to read these comic books. Parents did not want their children to defy the law, not to mention all the violence that goes along with fighting the “bad guy.”

 

Instead, “Route 29-Batman” has turned the superhero into an entity of compassion. He supports children in their fight for cancer and other diseases in hospitals by sharing joy. He is looked up to for what he both traditionally and non-traditionally represents. Passing out toys and concealing his true identity by day, Batman lives out his son’s dreams.

Lunchroom Politics or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gushers

A variety of the General Mills' Fruit Gushers. You always pick out the red and green anyway.

During my childhood, namely throughout 90s and early 2000s, kids’ snacks were evolving. As always, cheap and pre-processed goodies were easily available in every grocery store, strategically placed on lower shelves and in bright, eye-catching packaging. However, it seems that a new trend took hold, whereby advertisers and the companies producing these packaged snacks began to re-brand their products to appear healthier and more nutritional while still maintaining the appeal of ‘kets‘.

Of course, it’s fair to say that notable examples like General Mills’ Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Rollups, Fruit Gushers, and many more were and still are convenient filler items for packing children’s lunches or as a midday snack requiring no more effort than a quick trip back into the house. Despite their names, they are little more (or no less) than glorified and gelled candies.
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It’s all fun and games….

Video taken from a Chuck E. Cheese in Beaumont, TX

As a child I loved to go to birthday parties at the famous Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and arcade. It reminds most people of a place of fun, pizza, and games, but in a recent article ABC news explores the abnormal amounts of fighting that goes on in Chuck E. Cheese restaurants throughout the nation. Chuck E. Cheese over the years has become a place of feuding between upset parents. Whether its parents getting mad at kids or parents fighting with each other, many videos have shown up on YouTube that show the fights that go on in Chuck E. Cheese. The article claims that the fights occur due to alcohol and the fact that it is a stressful environment sometimes for parents. As a parent you want your child’s birthday party to be perfect and problems such as another kid taking to long can cause stress and in extreme cases can invoke anger. I honestly think it is the mix of alcohol and stress that is causing these outrageous encounters. For a grown up to yell at a child because they are taking to long playing pac man is completely insane. I can’t even fathom the idea of my mom pulling out someone’s hair because I had to wait 5 extra seconds before I got to take my picture in a photo booth. In class we have talked about the idea of parents wanting to protect their children and the incidents at Chuck E. Cheese take this to an extreme. It is amazing to me that there are so many fights that this has brought attention to the media but I guess you can never underestimate the importance of your child’s birthday.

Hoop Dreams

Throughout Hoop Dreams you see both Arthur and William struggling with the unfortunate circumstances they were born into.  Arthur’s father ditches him at the park for a drug deal.  His family’s finances are such that there is never a guarantee of electricity. William is from a broken home. Uneducated and unprepared, he becomes a teen statistic, a father before he even graduates high school.  With all of these things going against them, and without having the slightest ability to change these conditions you would think they would merely be a product of their environment.

They do however, manage to rise above though their ability to play basketball, but is this their choice? From a young age they have been recruited and sought after to play basketball for the private high school. Educationally it is light years above the education they would get at the public school in their area. The only thing in the movie at the point of their entrance into St. Joseph’s that I could see them having any control over is whether or not they take advantage of this gift. That too though is only momentary for Arthur.  When he doesn’t perform the way the recruiter initially anticipated, they don’t offer him enough scholarship to cover the increase in tuition for the next year, and he is forced to return to the public high school.

As a kid, you can’t control your finances, so that force defeats Arthur. They don’t really go into it, but I assume that finance and lack of education are also the reason that William ends up a father so young. Neither one of them can control who their parents are. This movie shows how much of life is out of our control.  It’s the luck of the draw what parents you get, how much money you have, the neighborhood you grow up in, etc. and those things add up and determine a lot of the opportunities you will have. I think that is what James was trying to show in the way he depicted this story.

Arthur in Despair from http://cinemasights.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

The ’80s Did It Right

If I was a child of the 1980s, program-length commercials of My Little Pony would have given me reason to wake up early on Saturday mornings, assuming that is when the show aired. For this assignment, I watched an episode of My Little Pony, titled “Bright Lights”, which first televised on October 13, 1986. In this episode, the three baby ponies are kidnapped by two circus performers who force the ponies to sing and dance. While doing so, the shadows of the three ponies are stolen from them by the circus performers, and as a result the ponies are drained of their energy and talent. It is explained that the ponies’ shadows, and all other shadows, are the source of power needed to fuel Erebus, the villain of this episode.  The rest of the episode focuses on the search party led by the other ponies and two children, Megan and Molly, and their quest to rescue the baby ponies. After many chase scenes, the baby ponies are finally rescued, their shadows and all other previous stolen shadows are returned to their rightful owners, and Erebus is defeated.

My Little Pony, along with most other 1980s toy-based programs, focused all of its attention on kids, and kids alone. Gary Cross mentions this 1980′s toymaker trend of catering  just to children in his work “Spinning Out of Control”,  he writes: “One toy executive in 1983 claimed that 90 percent of toy consumption was driven by children’s wants; toymakers convinced themselves that they served children’s desires, not those of adults” (290).  My Little Pony justifies this claim, for it is a show about flying pastel-colored ponies who sing and dance, what more could a child ask for?  Cross makes further arguments surrounding the idea that children’s television and play of the ’80s differed from that of the previous decades. Not only was play of the ’80s seemingly  focused solely on children’s desires, but even more bothersome to parents was this new generation of TV programs that completely disregarded reality and emphasized fantasy. Cross states: “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” (290). Traditionally, the purpose for play was to prepare children for adulthood and their predestined roles; boy’s play was more physical, and girl’s play more nurturing. The 1980s broke these traditions and replaced them with a more imaginative form of play, which was free from adult intervention. In the episode I watched of My Little Pony, there were no human adults present; rather, the character that seemed to be in charge most of the time, Megan, looked no older than ten years old. This concept of an adult-free fantasy world was all too appealing to kids, and at the same time bothersome to the parents.

Talking ponies, villains who devour shadows, and zebra sidekicks–it is safe to say that My Little Pony contained very little reference to the “real world”, but this does not mean the show was of no value to children. While this PLC may not have prepared kids for their future adulthood roles, it did allow for creativity and imagination to flourish. My Little Pony also incorporated valuable lessons on friendships, teamwork, and forgiveness. Based on our so far study of toys and the reactions they have received from adults over the years, I think it is fair to say that parents are hard to please. If toys are too realistic, parents seem to complain that they provoke violence, but if toys are not realistic enough then parents see no benefit to them. Toys are for kids, thus I think the strategy of the 1980s, which focused on the children’s wishes rather than the adults, should be praised.

The World of Strawberry Shortcake

 

An illustration of the title character and her cat, Custard.

Strawberry Shortcake was created in the late 1970s by the American Greetings card company. As the character became a popular fad among young girls, the company expanded the Strawberry Shortcake product line to include dolls, posters, stationary, stickers, clothing, games, etc. Beginning in 1980 Strawberry Shortcake animated specials began to air on television, joining the controversial trend of program-length commercials designed to advertise such product lines to children. To examine the claims of Gary Cross (“Spinning Out of Control”) about the negative effects of program-length commercials or PLCs, I watched the first episode of the Strawberry Shortcake television series.

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Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!

The Mystery Inc. Gang, Babble.com, SUNNYCHANEL

When I was a child I would watch Scooby-Doo religiously. Every Saturday I would sit down with my brother and sister and we would watch them. This happened for years. Scooby Doo is a children’s cartoon show that stars a group of friends: Freddy, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their dog Scooby Doo. These friends would get together and solve mysteries in their town. The group called themselves the Mystery Inc and would always find out who the mysterious criminal was behind all of the “supernatural” crimes.

The show originally started in 1969 as Scooby Doo, Where Are You! for Hanna-Barbera Productions. It would come on Saturday mornings and had the same cast as it does today. Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros, continued the show until 1976. In 1976 the show moved over to ABC and aired until they cancelled it in 1986. They show has had many spin offs since then as well, such as A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo’s Great Mysteries, etc. The show currently running on air is Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which premiered on cartoon network in July 2010. The show has won many awards and has been made into movies and comic books.

However, the success of the show has much to do with the viewers (children). In class we have talked a lot about children’s television shows and negative adult reactions towards them. The creation of Scooby Doo was actually a side effect of the parent-run organization Action for Children’s Television. This organization was complaining about there being too much violence in the Saturday morning cartoons and pressured Hanna-Barbera to create a new show that was more appropriate. And, through lots of hard work and ideas, Scooby Doo, Where Are You! was finally aired in 1969.

Parents have a large effect over the children’s television and movie industries. Without the parents support, these industries would fail because their target audience does not have the capabilities to go see movies, pay for tickets, pay for cable, etc… without their parents help. Therefore these some of the people in these industries, the successful people, sell to the parents just as much as they sell to the children.