Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Commercial Exploitation.

I might really lose some people on this one, so my apologies in advance. I'm big on big issues, and I have good points to back up my positions. For this one, I just have a feeling, without huge convictions, because it's not that big of a deal. Take it or leave it, it's just my $0.02.

I don't like commercialism. I never have. Being different from the crowd by not wearing or doing what everyone else was wearing or doing didn't phase me, and in a way, I insisted on it. Maybe it's because I'm more of a right-brained, creativity-valued person, or more accurately, that I refuse to be something that I'm not.

This position has affected our household in different ways. We don't have cable, and the one channel we do get only works when there's a clear sky. This means that that the children don't see commercials, and their television is very limited. The two year old still loves Thomas the Train, and the five year old is crazy about Lightning McQueen, but their genuine interests still shine through the off-the-wall marketing of these products.

The biggest impact commercial exploitation has in our home is in the form of clothing. With the exception of underpants and pajamas, I do not purchase clothing with visible brand names, logos, commercial characters (Thomas, Spiderman), superfluous printing, or (this is the big one) sporting franchise logos.

Why? I don't have a great reason, maybe not even a good reason except that they bug me. My boys like dinosaurs and pythons and Komodo dragons, not watching the NFL  My five year old likes to wear the color red and a yellow tie everywhere. My two year old likes fire trucks and monster trucks and anything to do with animals--especially dogs. This is who they are right now. In the future, if they love the Minnesota Twins, or get really into comic strips and want to wear superhero-marketed clothing, I'll happily let them. But for now, as little boys, I want them to look like little boys.

I don't want the crowd to dictate what they wear, what they should like, and what their interests should be. God made them unique with different treasures and talents, and I want those to be fostered, not an over-riding obsession with fitting in.

It turns out that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. There is an organization especially designed to give children a commercial-free childhood. The tag-line for the CCFC is "Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers." I like it.

Even our old pal Raffi is on board. Do you know that Raffi has never allowed any of his music to be marketed, even refusing a Baby Beluga animated video? Until his death, Dr. Seuss was the same way, strictly limiting any kind of commercial marketing of his products.

Thoughts? Objections? Suggestions? How do you feel about the marketing geared at your children? Does it bug you, or do you tend to brush it off?


Anonymous said...

Mal I agree with you! We have never had cable, and only until the whole "you have to buy some cable thingy to make your tv work at even the basic channels" (what is that thing called again? ha, i can't remember...)...oh yes, converter kit...our tv died right before the converter thing went into affect so we opted to not buy a new tv..we use our computer to watch hulu or pbs kids or whatever..and WHAT A DIFFERENCE in our home. PBS (when we got it from regular tv) didn't have many commercials, but did advertise for chuck-e-cheese. my kids were ALWAYS asking to go...it was annoying...so now i enjoy picking out what they will watch online and not worrying about what they see in between. There are so many things out there that they don't even know exist b/c of lack of commercials. We are actually going to be home schooling this next year for many similar reasons...not that we can protect them forever from everything, but the things they were bringing home (the NEED for this or singing this song, or talking about hannah montana etc) were things that we don't want occupying their time and minds at this early impressionable age...hope all is well!! Batman is coming soon!! t-minus 6.5 weeks!! maria

Theresa said...

Mallory, I completely agree. Completely. Even when we go to my parent's house, the TV stays off and my dad usually has a line-up of kid movies to throw on from his Roku. Which is fantastic. I hate commercials.
You might appreciate this one. My kids don't even know what McDonalds is. They call it the french fry store cuz that's all we get IF we stop there....french fries and milk shakes. And DQ is the ice-cream store. That's it. No jingles. No nothing. They appreciate these places from what they like (that they offer), not because of some jingle on TV or a flashy advertisement. And that is what I love.
And it isn't the end of the world for them to watch TV every once in a while or see a commercial. That isn't the point. The point (for us) is that our children are learning what their own preferences are not based on peer influence or commercializing. And I love that. Hayden loves the things he loves because he's Hayden. And he isn't afraid to be Hayden. Yvette is the same. She has her own style and her own voice and her own preference. And I'm sure it will change, but I am so grateful that right now our kids are who they are because they are defining themselves NOT a commercial subculture.
*sorry the rant got long*

Sarah said...

Wow!! I am relieved to read your post because we feel the same way. We don't have T.V. (just movies we have chosen) and logos, characters, and all that jazz do not have a place in our home. Let kids be kids and not marketing machines . . . go Mallory! You didn't lose me on this one. I only feel even more confident in our like-mindedness. Love it!!! Keep up the good work!

Anne R. said...

We don't have a TV either and I REFUSE to buy my boys clothing with cartoon characters on it ... or even sayings. (i.e. "Daddy's Little ...") We wear a lot of stripes and solids (and ties too!) I don't like my kids to be walking advertisements for products.

The only thing I mourn with not having a TV is not being able to watch sports! ESPN3 only goes so far online. How do you guys do it?

Mallory said...

Yes! These are all really wonderful comments, and very insightful perspectives!

Anne: I know someone would bring up the sports thing, because as you might know, Mark is a crazy huge sports fan. Now he'll pull up the Twins' box score on his phone or the computer, or put the game on the radio. Winter with the Vikings is going to be very tricky, but I know Mark will come up with something.

Maria: Can't wait to hear about Batman ;-) , and good luck with all the kiddos at home! The channel we get on sunny days is PBS, so my kids know all about Chucky Cheese, which isn't a problem living in the middle of nowhere since we're about four hours from the nearest one (for the record, I've never been there myself). Sometimes rural living CAN be a blessing.

Anne R. said...

Maybe the NFL will still be in a lock-out and we won't even have to worry about seeing the games!

We love Raffi music too - have you listened to Elizabeth Mitchell? She is a Norah-y children's musician, very calming to have on in the house.

Mallory said...

I haven't heard of her, but I'll definitely check her out. We listen to a lot of Raffi, VeggieTales, Go Fish, and Kenny Loggins. Barenaked Ladies actually has a children's CD that is pretty humorous, too.