Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Save the children!

I'm not quite sure where I stand, with regards David Cameron's latest crusade to save the children of Britain from their feckless parents who might otherwise dress them up in padded bras at age six, and feed them, exclusively, on MacDonalds (1).

Obviously, there's an element of hysteria, 'Dangerous Dogs Act' type Being Seen To Do Something, even if it is a complete over-reaction, and ushering in incompetent legislation that will outlaw pre-teens wearing anything short of a Burqua. Also, I'm uncomfortable with the state telling people what they can and can't dress their children in. Fuck's sake, if it gets own to this level of nanny statism, perhaps parenting licenses and testing is the way to go. Surely that would be more efficient, effective, and logical than trying to legislate competence into the hopelessly useless.

On the otherhand, i am deeply uncomfortable about the way children are being targeted by companies who only see them as a market for product, and have no scruples about exploiting children's intrinsic insecurities, uncertainties, needs and desires. Capitalism isn't interested in children, capitalism isn't interested in innocent children playing with sticks and mud. It's interested in exploitable non-adult consumers.

(Of course, we should be glad that capitalism is only exploiting our children as consumers, and not as producers, as happens in other parts of the world, for our benefit.)

I have no problem with little girls dressing up in mum's high heels and trying on mum's make up. I have no problem with little boys doing it either. I have, however, problems with children being purposefully marketed to with products that are intended to make them appear more adult; carry suggestive slogans; exploit their vulnerabilities and insecurities; that encourage unhealthy habits and and reduce active 'learning' play and imagination; that will make them unhealthy and will accustom them to food loaded with sugar, salt and dubious additives.

While only a fool would ever be happy with their parenting, I'm no more than necessarily distressed with mine. There are lots of kids out there, however, who don't enjoy even the rudimentary level of parenting I strive for, whose parents actually feed them at MacDonalds 5 times a week, dress their six year olds up in tee shirts proclaiming them to be 'Junior Porn Stars' and so on. As I pointed out in my first post in this thread, I'm worried either way, because legislating against shite parenting is about as doubtful a prospect as standing about and doing nothing while big business converts childhood into one massive consumerist trip.
1 - "Cameron-backed report to protect children from commercialisation," by Patrick Wintour. Published in The Guardian, 3rd of June, 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/03/cameron-backed-report-commercialisation-childhood)

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