Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kidnapped: How Irresponsible Marketers Are Stealing The Minds of Your Children, by Daniel Acuff and Robert Reiher

This was a pretty unbelievably awful book. Obviously, this is an area that I have read a lot in, and of course, much of it is somewhat repetitive, but I can honestly say that this book was so off point that I don't think it should be shelved near the other books on this seriously important topic- this book was so bad, in fact, that it was utterly original. Juliet Schor, Alissa Quart, Benjamin Barber, Thomas Hine - don't worry- these guys are not at your level of research, writing, or common sense.

With what seemed to me to be a thinly veiled "Christian" agenda, Acuff and Reihert vigoriously decry the overwhelming marketing messages targeted to children, tweens and teens, but despite the book being touted as coming from marketing insiders (and there making it unique in what is quite a crowd of books on the topic) the information in the book is dated and weakly presented.

Some parts were actually laugh-out-loud bad. Each chapter ended with side by side comparisons of the family that was raising "healthy teens" and the family whose kids were "kidnapped" by the consumer society. Let me share with you.

Ages 13 to 15 - Empowering Behavior (The Good Kids )
Sarah loves music and listens to her CDs of pop and soft rock on weekends mostly. She also plays the piano and lends her singing and playing talents both at school and at church. Dennis isn't into music much; he loves sports and spends as many waking hours as possible playing them. They both have approved music stations on in the background sometimes while studying or hanging out in their rooms.

Ages 13 to 15 - Disempowering Behavior (The Bad Kids )
Dennis listens to all sorts of music. His favorites are rap, hip-hop, and a lot of gangsta rap music with lyrical content that is quite violent and filled with sexuality- content way beyond his years. Sarah, along with most of her friends, is infatuated with female and male music stars, and they all try to emulate them in dress and attitude. Sarah's stereo is almost always blasting and the radio is almost always blaring in Dennis's room.

What the heck is this about? First off, Good Sarah, singing away at her church, maybe listening to a little 'soft rock' on the weekends, sounds like a total zombie, not a real teen, and as for the "approved stations" on the radio- well, what, exactly is the approval process? Parents censoring the music their children listen to isn't what I expect to read in any book about raising media aware teenagers. Bad Dennis likes "All sorts of music", especially black music - and this is portrayed as problematic. I believe that Bad Sarah's radio might be blasting all the time, but if Dennis is into music that has "lyrical content that is quite violent and filled with sexuality", it probably isn't making it past the FCC guidelines and therefore isn't on the radio.

Kidnapped: How Irresponsible Marketers Are Stealing The Minds of Your Children

Quality: 5 Popularity: 7 Overall: 12

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