Wheel of Progress-Capitalism (another false cycle)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I created this drawing today as a teacher and parent teaching aid. It's incredible how pervasive the dominant ideology is, and how the ad-men get into even the most conscientious of schools. Zeph's school is founded on non-harm Buddhist principles, however 'the winners' (the popular and influential) are still the kids who drink caffeinated energy drinks, know all the celebs, obsess over brands and labels, and are across junk food products like junkies in a chemist.

This is a reasonably new phenomenon in the school, so before it really takes hold a number of us are getting fairly active. Ad-men (and of course women) are setting the social agenda in the school through their new disciples – the whatevs. Those kids restricted in their access to pop culture consumption are made to feel inadequate, uncool. Peer-group pressure has hit middle years primary school in a big way, Target stores sell padded bra t-shirts to girls in this age group. Peer pressure was a thing that happened at high school when I was a kid. This is more of the aggregating hyper-mediated state I keep writing about...

Advertorial enterprise is a trillion-billion dollar industry engaged in strategic warfare against a bunch of disparate volunteer parents, teachers and carers. It's a David and Goliath scenario, and Goliath is romping it in.

So here's my catapult, my slingshot. Feel free to rip it and distribute widely (I can send you a high res copy if you want to make a poster of it). The idea of this drawing is to ask each child to imagine they're in the hub of the wheel (the mediated blob, or ambient blur), ask them to choose their favourite bought item, and then find out about it by researching all the possible energy inputs, social inputs, ecological inputs and pollution outputs that each item is likely to produce.

Click for bigger.

NB. Schools shred diversity by ordering students into year groups. This makes them easier targets for commerce pests to pinpoint specific generational desires, much like reduced biodiversity in environments encourage plagues and outbreaks – a weakened state. There are actual companies who profit by collating all forms of social data on all the various age and interest groups, and sell this information to businesses so as they can target consumers with deadly accuracy.

If our schools were generationally diverse the ad-man's power would be considerably reduced, especially if our elders abandoned the wheel of progress-capitalism too and began to behave again as elders. Currently schools are breeding grounds for self-interested bystander consumers. Addressing this issue may be part of addressing the strategic war on children by big business.


knutty knitter said...

We just banned all commercially packaged food in the kindy part of our school. It was creeping in with some of the newer parents. The older kids consider themselves cool if they have a three tier non plastic tiffin lunchbox.

We are lucky to have a small school with very mixed age groups who do interact lots. Unfortunately they do then have to go to a normal high school. Fortunately it is on the alternative end of the normal scale.

Its all very interesting :)

viv in nz

ronnie said...

fabulous stuff

I'll be sharing (we have two primary school aged creatures so all that you are saying rings very true)

for our part, we decided before our eldest beastie was born (he's now nine years old) that commercial TV and TV news had no place in our household.... ahhh the bliss of a decade without prepackaged 'entertainment' sandwiched between ads.

but we still have the pressure of the playground to deal with (so far, so good.... it helps if your kiddie is a sport god - our two spend most of their free time riding bikes and running around - so are naturally very fit - come carnival days they romp it in) and the years ahead are going to be a challenge.... all we can do is lay the ground work and hope the foundations are firm.... time will tell

Permapoesis said...

thanks kk and ronnie, good to hear your experiences and advice.

yes, if we can impart to our kids that cool isn't being a disciple of the dominant ideology (religion, really), then they're likely to have great internal strength, and be prepared for the uncertain and tumultuous world ahead of them.

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