fear of a children’s planet: the customer is kid

Whats always fascinating, often in equal measure, is disturbing. This is particularly so with the use of children in advertising, in art, and in the broader context. At one end of this seamy world, is the Charlie Sheen archetype, that without any difficulty, effortlessly manage to embodies the lion’s share of America’s problems, and the Western world with his undiluted misogyny and rich white man privilege. At the other end, the exploitation of children in advertising is the extension of centuries of child abuse, incest and forced labor onto the peddling of commodities. They are trotted out much as dogs and cats, manipulated into poses that mimic the desires of the pedophile, and in fact indirectly contribute to the trafficking of children. Contextually, its the same process of objectification of women, the “male gaze” commodity fetish, the voyeur, applied in a violation of the person. Metaphorically, its like land mines in Afghanistan and Vietnam and the children who step on them. The television networks are filled with a fetishizing of murder and death to which the subtext is, they’re basically out there, crazy and psychopathic; all to which children are pitched into this morass.

"Danish-Norwegian artist Nina Maria Kleivan seems to have a strange way of expressing art. She dressed up her baby daughter Faustina as the most evil figures of the 20th century to show "We all have evil within us. Even small children are evil towards each other"---Read More: http://www.mizozo.com/profile/redhead/profile_articles/page19.html

The idea of breaking resistance to children is hardly new. The conventions today are more subtle, less heavy handed, but the result is attained. In Herman Hesse’s “The Prodigy”,  from 1905,  Hesse  indicted conventional education.The story is of Hans Giebenrath,a gifted son of provincial bourgeois in  Germany who has the smarts  to get admitted into an elite Protestant theological college. His spirit, however, is systematically broken by his parents and teachers; over-anxious about his success, they neglect to consider his health and interior needs.Its capitalism as a religious cult.   Fading into apathy,in fact depression, he is sent home for medical reasons. Once home,  he mistakenly falls in love, becomes an engineer’s apprentice, and commits suicide…

Peter Simpson:What you will immediately notice about Hobin’s photographs is that all the people in them are children, thrust into darkly adult situations, and the allegory is in every case disturbing — children crashing toy jets into toy skyscrapers, a child posing as North Korea’s supreme lunatic Kim Jong-Il in front of a cardboard mushroom cloud, children standing beneath storm-clouds by a backyard pool while wearing water wings that proudly bear the logo of F.E.M.A., the federal agency that failed the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. There’s even one that speaks to Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean eating raw seal heart in the Canadian north. Read More: http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/bigbeat/archive/2010/09/16/review-in-the-playroom-with-the-meticulous-jonathan-hobin.aspx

“It’s a joke right? Actually, it’s a trailer for a 13-minute short film by Swedish artist and filmmaker Johannes Nyholm, which is currently in an upward viral spiral on YouTube. Entitled Baby Trashes Bar in Las Palmas, the video was posted just over a week ago and had more than four million hits counting at press time….

Reza Deghati. His photographs often convey both trauma and defiance. Read More: http://www.photoradar.com/news/story/celebrity-photo-pledges-for-unicef

…Chances are, in the time it takes you to read this column, you or someone you know has been sent a link to Las Palmas. When you watch it (and make no mistake, you will watch it), you will laugh, tickled by the contradictory image of an adorable tow-headed toddler engaging in the drunken antics of a lonely, obese tourist in a cheap resort bar.” Read More: http://www.leahmclaren.ca/articles_globeandmail_cannibals.html

"Gottfried Helnwein, Adoration of the Magi 2, 2005, Madonna is a young Aryan maiden, and she presents a Christ Child who looks like a young Adolf Hitler. The wise men all wear SS and Reichswehr uniforms. They stand attentively,with approving respect, next to the Virgin. The most prominent Nazi holds a document in his hands, while the soldier on the right seems to examine the child, perhaps to see whether he is circumcised." Read More: http://tomsthings.tumblr.com/post/3564683081/far-leftist-gottfried-helnwein-adoration-of

Bodusky: First, let’s take a few words to get into the brain of a child. As we all know from experience, children are not small grownups. Their brains are fundamentally different, the big difference being that right hemisphere brain development doesn’t really kick in until the age of twelve. This is important because without the right hemisphere involved, all decisions and concepts are very black and white. If you have kids, you’ve experienced this: The child that learns at school that drinking can be dangerous and suddenly thinks that glass of wine is going to kill dad. All things go into a category of good or bad; there are no grey areas for children. And this leaves them fundamentally and developmentally unequipped to deal with advertising in the way an adult can. Read More: http://alexbogusky.posterous.com/the-first-cannes-lion-for-not-advertising-at

ADDENDUM:

There’s Canadian photographer Jonathan Hobin’s recent exhibition In the Playroom, which features children re-enacting such news events as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the attacks of 9/11; Danish Nina Maria Kleivan’s photographs of her infant dressed up as Adolf Hitler or Idi Amin; and While the Baby Sleeps, a photo blog by a Finnish mother who arranges her unconscious newborn in fictional landscapes (Red Riding Hood, Mary Poppins) at nap time. Art involving the manipulation of small, defenceless humans seems to be everywhere these days. Read More: http://www.leahmclaren.ca/articles_globeandmail_cannibals.html a

---"Kids have always taken what they see in life and incorporated it into their play. Play is a tool that kids use to process and understand the world around them. All I've done is exaggerate those reflections of our world that kids see." ---Read More: http://thechive.com/201

/14/jonathan-hobins-in-the-playroom-exhibit-is-not-controversial-at-all-warning-graphic/

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Simon Houpt: During the phone call, Mr. Bogusky calls himself a “progressive capitalist,” then backtracks, saying he hasn’t yet decided to subscribe to that term. Capitalism, he explains, “hasn’t always had this form – this form generally is Reaganomics. It’s changed over time, and I think right now we’re in a period where it’s going to need to evolve again.”

Democracy has to “finish penetrating capitalism,” he maintains….

Bogusky: So, what about the companies that rely on advertising to kids as a way to drive sales? What happens to them? My sense is that they will be fine, too. They’ll probably sell a little less and they’ll probably have to make the products a bit healthier since it will be mom and dad that they’re trying to convince. But they will be fine. In fact, I think they’ll feel better. My old client at Burger King used to talk about pulling all the kids' advertising as a way to garner some positive press and put pressure on McDonald’s to do the same, knowing that it was a much, much bigger part of McDonald’s business. My guess would be they debate this at McDonald’s, too, but I have no way of knowing that. The trouble that arises when ethics and money place pressure in opposite directions is that no company feels it can afford to go first. The loss of competitive advantage would be too much. Read More: http://alexbogusky.posterous.com/the-first-cannes-lion-for-not-advertising-at image: http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=67589

…The new capitalism, he says, “is going to be about a lot of transparency, it’s gonna’ be a lot about change in expectations from consumers that do business with companies: ‘What should I expect from you?’ I think we have a very low bar, in terms of what we expect from the people that we exchange money for goods with….

"Although many people agree that this is exploitation of children in the worst way, advertisers think differently. The reason why children are so prized is because they can affect advertising in three ways. First, many young children have spending money of their own. Secondly, they can also tell their parents what they want and many are able to get exactly what they request. And finally, let's face it; children are the most open to advertising campaigns. With these three tested and true ways of advertising, children have spent billions of dollars themselves and influenced several billion with their parents. The statistics are startling. According to Global Issues Website, the average child in the United States watches between 25,000 and 40,000 commercials each year. Advertisers spend $15 to $17 billion to market to U.S. children." Read More: http://hubpages.com/hub/advertisingtochildren image: http://inspirationfeed.com/2010/08/30-stunning-examples-of-japanese-design/

…“Capitalism is the most powerful force on Earth – far more powerful than governments are,” he adds. “And so to be a good citizen, you need to think of yourself as a citizen consumer, I think. And you need to be cognizant and using the tools that allow you to vote for what you would like to see the world like – both with your dollars and with your votes.” Read More: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/persuasion/a-former-rock-star-of-the-ad-world-explains-why-he-doesnt-watch-commercials/article1930594/singlepage/#articlecontent

Read More: http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2010/06/alex-bogusky-muses-on-advertising-ethics.html

"All photos were found on American Apparel's web site and pasted together. In context, they look pretty bad. Whether the children were posed that way, mimicked the adult models, or were simply caught in a random position that we have given a sexual meaning to–does it really change the fact that these photos are the ones used to advertise clothing? What complicates the situation is that adult women often mimic the innocence and playfulness of young girls as a way to flirt or behave in a sexual manner." Read More: http://about-face.org/blog/archives/2654

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One Response to fear of a children’s planet: the customer is kid

  1. Kim Finley says:

    It’s very challenging art but I don’t dislike the use of the child as an object/tool/medium – that’s what so many people do to their own children consciously or unconsciously. (I saw this when I had my own babies – how people objectified their children – a whole other topic, sort of) I like the work and do not find it exploitive but expressive and thought-provoking – the advertising is a different area of discussion – different but not separate. Yet another fine post.

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