A report in the New York times about a new initiative by Disney to market to mothers raises some interesting questions, for me at least.
I am increasingly becoming convinced that one of the greatest threats to the church is the various effects of consumerism. Whenever we begin to think of ourselves primarily as consumers and only secondarily as humans made in the image of God, the results are always disastrous. So, reading that Disney is beginning an initiative to actively pursue the newborn and infant market concerns me. I don’t want to sound like I am picking on Disney here, because their actions are only representative of a larger culture of marketing which believes that it is appropriate to target ads towards the very young, people who are developmentally incapable of distinguishing between commercials and entertainment and discerning what is good from what is not. By getting a child to recognize and identify with specific brands while they were young, corporations can ensure future sales as the child grows.
What kind of desires will these products or ads inculcate in our children? (Should our daughters desire to be princesses?) How will our children understand their identities in relation to these products? (Should they define childhood primarily by the kinds of toys they buy?).