Setting the Boundaries of Innocence

Gary Cross

in The Cute and the Cool

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780195156669
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199868254 | DOI:
 						Setting the Boundaries of Innocence

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Commercial culture abhors a vacuum and thus never leaves unsatisfied a marketable desire. Because modern adults often see their children's longings as innocent and kids' satisfactions as measures of their own happiness, the family becomes commercialized. This is especially true in middle-class America and has spread with increasing affluence. But when children's desires get away from parents' control and understanding and when capitalism draws out those youthful longings in ways that meet the immediate, but not the long-term, needs of children, parents see red. They demand boundaries and reassert older meanings of innocence, seeking shelter rather than wonder. When adults conceded that their offspring have autonomous needs and desires, merchandisers learned to sell the cool to kids. The modern penchant for associating childhood with wonder and the way that the cute becomes the cool have led inevitably to a renewed demand for the sheltered child.

Keywords: commercial culture; children; family; parents; sheltered child; wondrous innocence; cool; cute; consumerism

Chapter.  11663 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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