Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Action (iii)

Do you often find that when you are grocery shopping, you miss watching commercials?
Well, Food Lion is here to solve your problem. 

Food Lion supermarkets will unleash 3GTv, mini-televisions attached to grocery store shelves running continuous commercials -- right next to the product being advertised. 

Screens will be in front of a display of organic red peppers, touting the virtue of this wonder food.  Kids will be clamoring for RED PEPPER RED PEPPER and beggggging their parents to please buy me some organic red peppers right now, and then the parent will reach for the Tasty Cakes and the Princess Spaghettios and shout, "Junior, don't fall for them commercials!"
 There will be massive meltdowns in the produce department because Junior never gets what he wants and it's just not fair.
Campbell's: Original Disney Princess Spaghetti-O's Shapes, 15 oz at Local Stores

I may have a few details mixed up, but seriously: do we need any more advertising in our grocery stores?
Is this not enough?

This action took exactly 5 seconds to complete.
I signed my name (#1391) and city.
You can also sign as Anonymous (for my Anonymous friends), and just put your approximate geographical location. 

If you don't plan on signing, at least visit the petition and read signature #1702.
People in Norfolk are just feisty!

(Oh just sign it, will ya?  What were you going to do with those 5 seconds anyway?)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Ewwww has entered the vocabulary of Miss C.
It made it's debut a few weeks ago, and it's frequency is pretty amusing.
Picked up from erudite peers, it's used on just about everything.
"Ewww, a worm," (as she picks it up and then cradles it to her neck).
"Ewww, rice and peas," (as she takes a mouthful).
Sometimes it's in context, but sometimes she's just thrilled to say it.
Reminds me of when I learned about Jinx Personal Jinx and used it on everything.
Because it was fun to say.

This weekend Dave and C and I went hiking in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, and on our drive back today, we stopped at a diner for coffee and sandwiches.  As a waitress made her way past us, Miss C pointed to something on the platter she carried and said, "Ewww, I don't like that food."  Then she watched as the waitress placed the plate in front of a customer, and I saw her lips make that motion as though she were about to do another round, a louder one, of ewwww, a round that would bellow through the diner and bounce off the walls, knocking us all over onto our plastic covered seats. A quick chat ensued: "Okay, that's enough ewww."

C:  "Why?  I like to say ewww."

Me:  "I know you do.  But, it's not polite to point at other people's food and say it."

C:  "Why not?"

Me:  "Because that's what they've chosen to eat, because they like it.  You don't have to eat it, you can eat what you like."

C:  "But what can I say?"

Me:  "You don't have to say anything."

C:  "But I like to say something."

Me:  "Well, you could say, 'That's interesting.'"

C (practicing):  "That's intresting." 

My tomato and guacamole sandwich arrived, with corn chowder, and C took a look, and said, "That's intresting."

Me:  "Sure is.  It's delicious, would you like a taste?"  She tasted the soup.

C:  "But, when can I say ewww?"

Me:  "You can say it about pretty much anything, just not about other people, the way they look, or the food they eat, that kind of thing."

We finished our meal, and made pit-stop before getting back in the car.

I waited in the hallway as C finished up in the bathroom.  The wall was covered with photographs of local diner patrons, in football uniforms, hunting jackets, and one shot of a large man with an enormous amount of chest hair wearing a cheer skirt and top, holding poms.  His mouth was smeared with lipstick and his leg kicked up as if in mid-jump.  There was another photo of an actual cheerleader, a teenage girl, standing between her parents.  She was wearing her blue uniform, matching blue eyeshadow, and blue glitter all over her face.

Miss C finally emerged, and drawn to the wall as was I, she pointed to the cheerleader and squealed, "A clown!  Look at her, look at the clown!"
I took her hand and moved her down the hall toward the car as she pointed at each photo and made comments in rapid succession.
She pulled her body to a halt in front of the cheering man with smeared lipstick.
"Well look at that clown!"  She stared in awe.  "That is so intresting."

Friday, October 22, 2010

From You, For You: Breast Implants

Coming Soon: Bigger Boobs Made From Your Liposuctioned Fat
At Jezebel today, Irin Carmon writes about  breast augmentation which uses your own fat, taken from your fatty places where you don't want the fat, put in your less fatty places where you do want the fat.  
Poor, confused fat. 
"The procedure's already been successfully tested in Europe and Japan, and now the company behind it is trying to convince the FDA to let them conduct a clinical trial here. The FDA isn't thrilled about injecting "blood-vessel promoting cells into patients who have had breast cancer," though animal trials have so far shown no adverse effects. But it's all happened incredibly fast by scientific standards, so who knows what the long term effects might be.
If all goes well and the procedure is used not only on breasts but to regenerate organs, it would be a unexpected social reward for both the vanity industry and those extra pounds we're carrying around. Hooray for the free market?"
Happy weekend to you.
And, give your fat a little hug today.
She needs love, too, you know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Action (ii)

Last week I hosted a screening of Consuming Kids in my living room.
Consuming Kids

Last month, I emailed my neighborhood listserv to garner interest.
Of the several hundred people this listserv reaches, exactly two replied, "Yes."
A parent's yes, that is, which sounds like, "Josh has soccer and Alicia has piano and I work until 7 but I'll try to be there!"

I ended up with 5 great people sitting on my couch, which may not sound like a lot, but between these 5 great people they had 210 children.
Okay, not 210,but each of them had a small litter at home, which counts statistically for numbers in attendance.
It was all women, and although one father had wanted to attend, he and his wife played Rock Paper Scissors to see who would stay home with the brood.
Paper covers rock, she won.

So, in 6 degrees of separation, there were 210 people in my living room, represented by their mothers, who are out attending these things in the world while the young brush their teeth and get on feetsie pajamas and generally have no idea how much their parents are worrying for them.  (Call your mother.)

After the film, one neighbor mentioned that her kids get one hour of screen time daily, and that they determine the device (computer/TV/video games).   Also, since she has 4 kids, each of whom has requests about movies and shows they want to watch with their friends, she uses the website kidsinmind.com to determine what is appropriate viewing.  Rather, they use this website, the kids, and based on the family consensus, determine if it's something that falls within or outside the boundaries they've determined together.
(Side question: if you watched TV growing up, were there rules around it?  Did you watch programs with your family, was it laissez-faire, or violence but no sex, or sex but no violence, or bring it on, all things go?)

One neighbor, an artist, asked honestly, "Okay, I see that there's a lot of this stuff that's marketed to kids.  But, why should I be upset about it?  What is the problem exactly?"
The cognitive behariorist in me immediately thought, "Don't Should on yourself today!"

Her question led to more discussion,  and some sharing of what people were noticing with their own kids, their responses to the world around them, to media, and how they were processing it.  It was apparent: no two kids are the same, and each family had different things that top their List of Concerns. 

At 11:00 as the group made their way out the front door, I thought to myself, "Well, that was delightful.  Maybe next week I'll hold a screening of Halloween 5."  And then I checked the website, and there is no way on earth the kids would let their moms watch that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Helping China, One Child at a Time

Aren't language classes so boring?  Filled with strange words, and references to foreign objects?
If you live in China, you need not worry that your child will have to learn a second language the hard way.
Have no fear, Tinkerbell is here.

Here's the website for Disney English, and the pictures sure do look pretty.

"We never saw this as an effort to teach the Disney brand and Disney characters," says Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide. "We set out to teach Chinese kids English."

You don't throw in the towel in a market with 1.3 billion potential customers."
It is estimated that China's foreign-language business is worth $2.1 billion annually and more than 300 million Chinese are studying English.
Get 'em early on their Little Mermaid flash cards.  

Brazil, you're next.
[disney and english school] 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sexy, Naughty, Disney

A creative use of Tata Young's song, Sexy Naughty Bitchy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

150ish Days

It's been well over 90 days now.
This blog started in late April as a way for me to keep myself accountable, and to sort some things out.

More powerful than the absence of "stuff" in our house has been the addition of conversation among family and friends.
One friend said, "Don't get conscious about something, it will really mess things up."
Digging into a symptom has led me to unearth far more than I wanted to know about marketing to children, and the unique role it plays in our country.

I'm going to keep posting (with a focus!) through the end of the year, and then see if I've entirely tired myself of this topic.

Perhaps the next level will be a blog called, "The Enemy Will Surely Kill Us Recovery," which is a little more akin to how Miss C's playing since she started playing with mostly boys.
Or, "Kill Capture Die Die."  Something light.
How about, "Light Sabers are Not Magic Wands."
Oh the possibilities!

See how relaxed I am?
And balanced?

The focus will be to track the big and teeny tiny actions, the drops in a bucket.
Of course, it's hard not to notice things like this,
The Princess Jasmine dress by Alfred Angelo for Disney.
"designed for the stylish women who have grown up with the Disney princesses."

So there will be some "oh, I noticed" along with the actions.

But the actions are supposed to keep me sane. 
Otherwise you might find me half-dressed on a corner in mid-December, mumbling, "Cinderella ate my daughter."
Oh, there's already a book that covers that?
Well, onward then.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Unbalanced and UnAmerican

When the editor of Mamapedia asked me to submit a post from this blog, I scanned through and picked one that summed up the small changes I'd been trying to make, and sent it on.

Several weeks later, I got an email with the date that the post would be published.  I re-read it and thought, "Hm, not one of my finer moments, and there it is in print."  I read it and thought, "Hm, maybe I could instead re-submit something more neutral, containing more facts and information."

So, I wrote a separate piece, all about advertising to kids and how it impacts families, and sent it on, asking, "Mind if I switch?"

The lovely editor, who was named Ariel, replied to the effect of:  I've read both pieces and I think the first post is better written, and geared more toward an audience who don't have a lot of time.  But, whichever you are comfortable with.

So I stuck with the first, and it ran, and of the 70 or so comments, these were some snippets:

 Why are we blaming a company for something we as parents need to be responsible for. Disney is a company and they don't need to have feelings nor is it their responsibility to watch out for my child's well being.       --Michelle
I feel like most parents are so disillusioned and dissatisfied with their lives, that once they have children, they try and make little mini-Me's...only better.    --Nyle
Parents have complete control over the degree to which a movie takes over a child's life.   -- Lisa
Please let your girls be girls!  There is nothing wrong with being a princess. First Daddy's princess, then hubby's princess.  --JoAnn
Let's try to keep this in perspective and not create problems where none exist. There are too many other real issues out there!  --Amy
I am so sick of people telling us we are doing everything wrong as parents. --Julie
Everything in moderation is the key. In this article Mary, you sound insulting and come across as one of those "I'm a better parent than you" sort of person....And to tell you the truth if a vegen came in my house I would make sure there is something there, but I sure wouldn't feel bad and still have no problem eating my big juicy steak in front of them.   --Kelly
It is un-American to hate disney and all the marketing that goes with it. If you dont want to be a consumer on any level move somewhere else and take her self-righteous attitude with you.   --Kim
There was a lot of great feedback in there as well, some supportive, some mixed, some questioning my deeper issues, and even some resources that people included. 

My hesitancy to let the piece run, I think, was that in looking at it months after the fact, that instance felt rather far away, so old, and not where I was, and not where I am now.
At the time, that was how I felt: a little overwhelmed.  And I felt that it mattered enough to talk about, and to write about.

Have you ever been frustrated about something, and someone tells you, "Don't worry about it!  Relax."

How did that work out for you?

I prefer to say, I was in a mood of critiquing circumstances.  
Mainly ours, but perhaps some of that spilled over.

I think the reason a lot of my early documenting of these things feels far away, or not as relevant, is because I have spoken to others about them, and written about them.
Not because I've pretended to relax because someone else suggests I should be focusing on Water for Sudan.  You can care about more than one thing.  And you can care as much as you need to.

I can't end this one without referring to the unAmerican claim.  I've seen this exact statement, specifically for anyone who critiques Disney,  in different articles, about 6 times now.
Anti-Disney = unAmerican.

Just curious, but if you are from New Zealand or England or Brazil or Canada, what are some things that might get you called unEnglish?  UnBrazilian?  I don't even know how to write unNew Zealandin.  New Zealandish?
I want to know specifically who started the word, unAmerican.
And also, who connected it with an act of critiquing something.

Because quite frankly, I am so sick of people telling us we do everything wrong as parents.
And now, I must go and let my girl be a girl.
First a daddy's princess, then a hubby's princess.