As I saw my daughter crawling around in an empty cardboard box next to our Christmas tree last night, I started pondering the meaning of Christmas and how this holiday and our society have been affected by consumerism.
I’m neither the first nor last. Charles Schutz made a great commentary in his first Peanuts television special. So when my wife, a very practical woman whom I trust with all household finances and didn’t get a D- in economics like some blog writers, asks what we should get said daughter for Christmas, I respond boxes.
She thought I was joking, but I’m really not. Wrap up some boxes that we can help her open and she’ll be tickled pink. For once, I’m not being solely cheap, I’m being practical. I doubt we can ever do this again with her, she’ll love it, we’ll save money, and we’ll save house space.
Next year she’ll more likely resemble this happy lad. Techno lovers should click here for the remix. As I rock out to old Mortal Combat tunes and watch this kid, likely hopped up on about 5 dozen pixie sticks, celebrate his new Nintendo, I wonder about people that market exclusively to children.
They’re offering a valuable service – they drive up the value of items that parents can give to their children and then enjoy their reactions. They, like I, are really in business to promote consumerism via capitalism. I am an unabashed supporter of capitalism, consumerism less so.
And there’s nothing wrong with capitalism as long as there are checks and balances in place. Major league baseball and our government both have them (flawed as they might be at times) and marketing needs to have some safeguards in place via the FCC and industry standards.
This mentions nothing of the parent’s or society’s role, which would need a separate post or two. For example the American Academy of Pediatrics brings up an interesting debate about not wanting to try to make our children fat, although McDonald’s and Kellog’s may be the only reason shows like Sesame Street are still running. And not to mention that the AAP doesn’t look inward at its own medical profession and its pharmaceutical reps about Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertising. Three fingers pointing back at them.
Where was I? Let me check my pockets. There, there’s the point I was looking for. The point is that people marketing to children shouldn’t be villified for raising interest among future clientele as long as they’re following some sort of ethical guidelines. And the marketers of the Nintendo 64 apparently did an incredible job if this little boy was any indication.
Now just let heaven help me if my girl’s fifth word is “Wii”.