Hatch 1Christopher HatchProfessor Renee HobbsCOM 410: Children & Media28 September 2012 Old Vs. New: Children’s Media Trends, and peer pressure can be a powerful force to combat anything a parent has tosay, especially if it’s of the opposite opinion. I was notplanning on choosing a book for my comparison, yet as I sathere thinking to myself regarding which form of media todiscuss, I simply thought of my favorite form of media as achild; and there was my answer. I loved to read, sometimesflying through a three hundred page book in a single day atonly eleven or twelve years old. With that in mind, it was easyto pick out a specific title, deciding on my favorite seriesgrowing up: Animorphs. Animorphs, written by K. A. Applegate and published by Scholastic, was a long andengaging story of six teenagers who acquire the ability to transform into any animal that theytouch. Using this power, they secretly fought an alien infiltration of the planet earth. Each bookwas told in the first person perspective, with one character being the narrator for each title.Animorphs was definitely geared for children ages 9-13, though I started reading them when Iwas seven, even though the series could be rather dark at times with its themes whichsometimes included war, loss, horror, murder, morality, innocence, right vs. wrong, and
Hatch 2betrayal. For instance, in the very beginning of the series, one of the characters, Tobias, breaksthe ultimate morphing rule and stays in animal form for longer than the two hour maximum.When that happens, the morpher is trapped in that animal form forever, and can never morphagain. Tobias lost his human life before he was a teenager, permanently stuck as a red-tailedhawk. Finding a series to compare to Animorphs was much easier to think of than finding theinitial series to discuss. Animorphs started in 1996, when I was just six years old, and I readthem all within the next five years, stopping with the last book when I was eleven, and justbefore I began Harry Potter. When I thought of a series, immediate Twilight came to mind.Twilight was much simpler to come up with because it is much more recent, became muchmore popular than Animorphs ever did or will, especially since Twilight has been turned into afive film franchise. Animorphs was briefly on Nickelodeon but never took off and only lasted afew episodes. Twilight, a four part series detailing the life of Bella Swan and her first love Edward Cullen, who happens to be a vampire. This quartet details the struggles of their relationship, as well as opposition to their union from all fronts. Twilight was written for a typically female audience for readers as young as twelve. Twilight focuses a lot on issues of love, loss, death, betrayal, freedom, and making your own decisions. So why did I choose to compare these two, I’m not exactly
Hatch 3sure, but I’m glad I did. The first thing that I’d like to point out is the target audience. Animorphshas a very set pre-teen male audience, which in my opinion is pretty inflexible. Any younger,and the reader lacks the skills to understand the book, and any older and it’s too childish, andthere are more appropriate books to take their place. Animorphs was written with a veryspecific age group in mind. Twilight however, geared towards female audiences as young astwelve, has a much more fluid audience range, with some reports that even forty year oldswere reading the series. This brings into question that as time has gone on, has children’s media adapted toinclude themes and interests much more blatantly adult than media in the same genrepublished before?Animorphs definitely has some heavy themes that can be on the darker side,such as when one character discovers that the mother he thought died years ago is really aliveand the commanding alien of the takeover of earth. As dark as that sounds, the idea of a secretalien takeover is laughable, keeping the series in its appropriate age range. Twilight on theother hand is about vampires, an inherently adult subject. One of my favorite authors of alltime is Anne Rice, a brilliant novelist that lured readers into her dark, destructive, and intenselysexual depictions of vampires. True Blood, currently a television show on HBO that is based offa series of novels still being published, that has been called “vampire soft-core porn” is anotherblatant example of vampires in a very adult context. For these novels to attract such a large age range there has to be elements too youngfor older reader, and elements too old for younger readers. I also ask,does children’s mediawith adult themes make children more interested in media exclusively meant for a much older
Hatch 4audience? For example, would a child with a laptop secretly watch True Blood online becausethey read and saw the Twilight? I see a huge discrepancy with this issue of adult themes too young in my comparison ofthese novels published years apart. Animorphs in its time was more than likely consideredviolent, but left out themes of love, sex, and teen pregnancy, all which occur in Twilight. I wouldask if there was a series that managed to blend the best of both worlds for children and adults,as non-offensively as possible, but I already know the answer: Harry Potter, which did a greatjob of keeping all ages interested but was written in a way that younger readers would seemagic and good vs. evil as the main themes, but adults would catch all of the themes the kidsmissed. What once seemed to be age appropriate entertainment (Animorphs) has turned into aquest to gather as many readers and as much attention as possible with in my opinion, noregard for the lowest age of the intended target audience. The media targets these two groups (young males and young females) very differently.These days you can’t even go to McDonalds and order a happy meal without having to specifywhich gender toy choice you’d prefer. Both of these book series take place during veryimportant years of their main character’s lives; all of them are going through puberty. All ofthem are changing: emotionally, mentally, physically, and in other ways as well. Just becausethe readers can all relate to that, doesn’t mean that they are all marketed to in the same way.Boys going through puberty are becoming men, saving the world and being a protector areparamount. Animorphs offered young male readers the chance to save the world, and with oversixty books we were able to do it again and again. Young girls going through puberty are
Hatch 5becoming women, and in the media are seen as needing that protection, as well as being mostconcerned with love. Girls reading Twilight were able to fall in love and need protectingthrough the eyes and mind of Bella Swan. Because of those basic urges, and premises ofpuberty, media producers have/had been able to relate to young viewers on an almost primallevel As a media consumer, and hopefully as a media producer one day, I see a problem withthe level of enticement that adult media plays in children’s lives. Yes, it is a parents job toprotect their children and decide what is, and is not appropriate for their children, howeverwhen the two most popular options are Twilight books and movies, or Keeping up With theKardashians…what’s a parent to do? Today’s youth are quickly growing up, and losing that oncebeloved childhood innocence. Where are the books and shows and games that revel inchildhood, that grasp onto it and never let go. Gone are the days of Tom Hank’s Big, or RobinWilliam’s Jack…instead we have teen pregnancy in Twilight, and much worse in other forms ofmedia. As I begin to wonder about the loss of innocence and growing up to quickly; thequestion has begun forming in my mind…”Surely a child exposed to no media must be betteroff than a child exposed to too much (adult) media…right?”Source:Barbaro, A. (Director) (2008). Consuming kids: The Commercialization of Childhood [Web].