Out of the Garden: Toys, TV, and Children's Culture in the Age of Marketing (Culture & communication in Canada)

Kline, Stephen

Published by Garamond Press, 2000
ISBN 10: 0920059651 / ISBN 13: 9780920059654
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Synopsis: In this work, Stephen Kline provides a detailed history of marketing to children, revealing the strategies that shape the design of toys and have a powerful impact on the way children play. Stephen Kline looks at the history and development of children's play, culture and toys, from the teddy bear and Lego to the Barbie doll, Care Bears and the globally popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He profiles the rise of children's mass media - books, comics, film and television - and that of the specialty stores such as "Toys "R" Us", revealing how the opportunities to reach large audiences of children through television was a pivotal point in developing new approaches to advertising. Contemporary youngsters, he shows, are catapulted into a fantastic and chaotic time-space continuum of action toys thanks to the toy merchandisers' interest in animated television. In a chapter on advertising design, Kline looks at the imagery and appeal of toy commercials and at how they provide a host of stereotyped archetypal figures around which children can organize their imaginative experience. In a re-examination of the debates about the cultural effects of television, "Out of the Garden" asks whether we should allow our children's play culture to be primarily defined and created by marketing strategies, pointing to the unintended consequences of a situation in which images of real children playing in the normal course of their lives in narratives about and for the young have all but been eliminated.

From Kirkus Reviews: Big business proves the villain in Kline's informed discussion of how TV-marketing experts have manipulated children's views of culture. Kline (Communication/Simon Fraser University) doesn't disagree with Ellen Seiter (Sold Separately--reviewed below) that TV is an instrument of socialization for children. But he questions whether what's shown on TV is a true reflection of society or, rather, a version shaped by marketing executives. Children's TV programming reflects the long evolution of a child's place in society, Kline says, illuminated by the 19th-century concept that children's ``books should serve children's needs''--a concept that culminated in 20th-century comic books. Disney's fairy-tale features gave cartoons respectability and opened the door to The Mickey Mouse Club, a revelation to children's marketing entrepreneurs like Hanna-Barbera (Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones). As spin-off products showed the strength of the market, ingenious promoters, capitalizing on the inattention of the Reagan-era FCC, reversed the process, introducing the product--e.g., Strawberry Shortcake--and then the TV series. Toys followed a similar route, from handcrafted wood to mass-produced plastic objects that became links to the world of imagination as marketers listened to what children wanted and pitched their advertising to symbol and fantasy. Just as children once used fairy tales, Kline says, today's kids use TV to ``negotiate'' with the real world--but the purpose of TV, he emphasizes, isn't to impart cultural values but to sell products, leading to poor production values to keep costs down, formulaic scripts that replay gender stereotypes, and the limiting of children's fantasies to the replaying of past episodes. A well-documented case (though padded with TV plots and dialogue, as well as with surveys) that the TV marketplace transmits not children's culture but that of toy companies. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Out of the Garden: Toys, TV, and Children's ...
Publisher: Garamond Press
Publication Date: 2000
Book Condition: Good

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Kline, Stephen
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Book Description Garamond Press. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Light shelving wear with minimal damage to cover and bindings. Pages show minor use. Bookseller Inventory # G0920059651I3N10

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Book Description Garamond Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1993. Soft Cover. Book Condition: VG. 406pp. Gift note on the first page (taking up half the half-title page), small curl/crease at corners, and soil to the outer edges. Wraps have light edge/rub wear and creasing to the spine. Actual book for sale pictured. 15.6 x 23.4 x 3.1 cm, wt850g Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 009670

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Kline, Stephen
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