Kids' Pop Culture Today

By Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn)

It all started 2 weeks ago, when we went shopping for school supplies (yeah, school starts in January here). Kiddo wanted a schoolbag with wheels, you know, those spiffy luggage-like bags. Hubby and I were like, as long as it doesn't break the bank we'll get it for you. We get to the bags section at the shop - and there they were, the good-looking, mini-business-class-looking bags on wheels. And as it's kids' bags, there's got to be some cartoon designs on it. There were 3 Spiderman ones, and one Ben 10 bag. Kiddo goes, I want Ben 10. Check the price - it's good. (Didn't get that exact pic but this one gives you a pretty good idea).

Next up were the school supplies - notebooks, pencil case and yada yada. In the section we check, everything's got a design on it, from Ben 10 to Hannah Montana to High School Musical.

Didn't pay it much attention... Until the day school started and what a sight for the eyes - every little boy has a Ben 10 bag, and every girl has a Hannah Montana one. Some of the less-gender conscious had, surprise, High School Musical images!

If that weren't proof enough that something is up (marketing, kids pop culture, craze-of-the-moment), we attend a birthday party for my cousin's daughter last weekend, and of course there are the Disney Princesses pics everywhere, even on the birthday candles! When it's time to leave, kiddo was one of the 3 boys in a gaggle of girls' party, here come the goody bags. And guess who I found on the goodies? Yup, that's right -Ben Tennyson of the alien fame!

And now on to the really scary bit - I'm a jeans and top gal, and there I was the other day at my mom's place. My 3.5 year old niece was there, and when she saw me, she exclaimed: Tee (she never said Auntie, only Tee when she started to talk and the name's stuck! Even her younger sister who's 2.5 calls me Tee). Anywayz, she goes: Tee, you look just like Hannah Montana!

Huh? What? Say that again?? You mean I'm dressed a decade younger than what I should look like? Wait, I'm not even thirty yet, for God's sake! And then came the real question - Hannah (that's her name too, btw, my niece), sweetie, you know Hannah Montana? (at your age, I didn't add). Of course she does, and there she breaks into some song I know nothing about but which she assures me is a Hannah Montana song.

Bear with me, yes, I am getting to something! It struck me as strange that all kids today, irrespective of their age, know these characters. Ben 10 for boys, Hannah Montana for girls and High School Musical for both genders.

And, uh, is it just me or are these shows a little a) violent b) grown-up c) well, even more grown-up respectively?

In my days at ages 3.5 and 7 (as the kids in my entourage are aged), we'd get really sweet and harmless stuff like My Little Pony and yeah, the classic - Barbie!! Boys had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even though that was action-packed, it wasn't exactly as violent as Ben 10. I mean, some of those aliens in there give me nightmares!

And then you move from Ben 10 where Ben is a happy-go-lucky ten-year-old to Ben 10 Alien Force - where's he's now a teenager, Gwen is grown-up too and so is Kevin (and he's a hunk, btw! Oops, can see myself slipping down the Mom-thinks-of-cradle-robbing path here!). So yeah too - Gwen and Kevin are 'together'. Hannah Montana's concerns despite the hidden identity thing is that, well, she's a teen and gasp, boys are cute! High School Musical - well, there was the love story between Troy and Gabriella but it wasn't overly in your face. Though in that respect, where the movie is concerned, I turn to my 12.5 year old niece and all she does is *Zac Efron/Robert Pattinson= squeal and hysterical shaking*. Yeah, I know - scares me too... Oh well, seeing these pics I can understand... (especially when you imagine Pattinson with some bronzer or self-tanner on!)

My point today being - what is it with the pop culture that's geared for kids today? Kids are no longer kids, are they? Case in point - Hannah (3.5 years old) wants to wear jeans and tops like Tee and like Hannah Montana. When I ask, what about Barbie (innocent and sweet doll)? She gives me a blank look!

Fashion, movies, TV stuff, books - everything is trying to convert our kids to one particular brand/image. You cannot escape, unless maybe if you lived on Pandora (that needs 5 years in cryo to get there!). In the meantime, what do us parents do? Well, apart from reminiscing on our sweet innocent days, we try to keep them from growing up too fast.

But pop culture seems to be saying - fast is not fast enough!

Does someone else 'get' what my rambles are about today? Are we moving too fast with our time, or am I simply an ageing mom clinging on to 'her' ideal of innocence through nostalgia?

Speaking of kids and how they turn our lives upside down, come check out my latest book, Storms in a Shot Glass, where a little bump is about to create a lot of ripples...

PA Jane Smithers needs a baby as much as she needs the immature boss, bitchy mother and lunatic Russian models cohabiting peacelessly around her. What she also doesn’t need is a man who pops out of nowhere, intent on taking over her accidental pregnancy.

Cold logic and hard facts rule the world of millionaire corporate lawyer Michael Rinaldi. Until he meets Jane, and the insignificant-looking woman plunges him head first into the churning waters of tempestuous emotion and hot-blooded impulse.

Unlikely feelings crop up at the same time relentless gossip escalates. Both realize their respective world has irredeemably changed. The question is - will they be able to live with this reality?

From now till later, cheers!

And don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO


  1. I completely agree with you Z !
    Our kids no longer have the innocence that we the same time, we cannot really blame them...when we see all the crap the TV keeps showing..
    anyways, its food for thought indeed ..

  2. The marketing pros know a good thing when they've got it - I just watched a documentary on marketing to children on CBC a few days ago. Completely vile and the worst in business avarice, if you ask me. They even have stats on which kid behaviour is most effective in getting the parent to cave in and buy the whatever-it-is for their sweet darlings (strangely enough, it is indeed nagging.)

  3. The documentary is called How the Kids Took Over. Check it out...if you dare...

  4. Divine piece Z. It does seem that tame and classy Barbie has become for the 'older' folks. I mean, when Fashion Week both in NYC and Bombay host a show dedicated to the doll?!

    I do have some stories of my own about the frenzy of marketing for kids. Take the 8 year-old daughter of a friend of mine, whom I spent loads of time with when they visited NYC earlier this fall. She's big on Hannah Montana AND the Wizards of Waverly Place. That's another one!! But it was fun to get into it with her, though the themes they deal with are totally understandable for someone like me, how can they be geared to young girls and boys? And when my little friend broke out in a rendition of one of Hannah Montana's songs, it was some performance, sinuous moves and sexy eyes and all!

  5. Hey gals

    Thanks for your comments!

    Anu - TV is definitely crap today. You can only 'escape' a bit through DVDs of stuff like Up or Ice Age, but how can you keep your kids from TV influence and the world outside in general? And that too is pretty much 'boys' flicks. The girl stuff, don't even go there! Yeah, our days were innocent, weren't they? And here we thought we were the original hellions! Ha!

    Julia - That documentary sounds scary! Ah, nagging, that ever-effective weapon! When the boys do it here, we ignore them, even in the shops, lol. It's like, if you wanna make a fool of yourself, go ahead, I'm moving forward! They know not to tempt it, and some people who look at hubby and I could say we're heartless but that sort of behaviour does not cut it with us! Thank goodness none of them ever tried the rolling on the shop floor thing!

    Nina - You're right about the sinuous moves and all that in Hannah Montana. Even her clothes are sexy, and I shiver when I imagine my nieces wanting to dress like her already! I dress like that but I'm 27, for God's sake! The 13 year old who's so into Twilight is pretty much a tomboy otherwise, and her mom breathes a sigh of relief there! Who'd have thought, eh, there came a time when a girl being a tomboy is seen as a relief!
    In my days, even Sabrina The Teenage Witch was tame compared to what they air today!

    Thanks again for dropping by, ladies!!

    Big hugs

  6. Z,

    I totally agree with you about the loss of innocence these days. Little girls have boyfriends these days. My niece was glad when her little five-year daughter's boyfriend moved away. lol It was innocent, sweet and cute.

    Even your generation was not as innocent as mine. Smile. Your Barbie had Ken. lol

  7. Hey Z - great post! I completely agree with you about the marketing aspects towards kids. They're bypassing parents all together because they bank on kids getting their way. And that doc that Julia mentioned sounds cool! Going to look for it. Cheers!

  8. Hi Sandy and Joanna

    Thanks for your comments!

    Sandy - my son turns 7 this year, and I remember last year we were talking and he mentioned how there was this girl who was the most beautiful in his class and how all the boys liked her. I thought - uh-oh. So I kept on talking, and asked if he liked her too. And he replied that no, he liked someone else, another girl who was the popular one's sidekick! I was like, way to go son! The next day I made sure to check out who this girl was who had caught his heart already, and sure enough she was a cute little thing but so not prom queen material, you know?
    And yeah, he's 6 going on 7!
    Then the other day my 11 year-old stepson was quiet and sulking, and his dad asked him if anything was wrong, and even if he was in love! Lol. We don't shy from the issues, better have it out in the open.
    Yeah too - Barbie had Ken. But to me back then Ken was here to just like open the door and hold her shopping bags, you know!

    Joanna - totally agree about bypassing the parents. I look at the ads on Cartoon Network and cannot believe how in your face and persuasive they are! And there we parents go just switching the TV on and letting them watch, half the time unaware what marketing strategy is being bombarded on them!

    Thanks again!!

    Big hugs

  9. I read this article and all I can do is smile.

    I remember being very surprised the day my 8 year old daughter came home from school singing BOOM BOOM POW by The Blakc Eyed Peas because one of her friends at school was playing it from her cell phone.

    I was surprised for 2 reasons - one being that my 8 year old girl knew that song and the other being that children that age have fully functional cell phones!

    I look back fondly at the days when my daughter used to watch the barbie movies all the time and Monsters Inc was her favourite movie. Now its Bratz everything.

    It really is strange how the times have changed since we were children.

  10. So true. Kids sort of bypass being kids these days.


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