Noah Stepro

Noah Stepro

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Nickelodeon, Child Peddling and Demagogy

I have been on a Law and Order kick for several years now…the wonderful thing is that there are 20 seasons to the original show and a whole lot more to the multiple spin-offs. But what does this have to do with Nickelodeon’s pimping out child actors?

As I was watching an episode of Criminal Intent yesterday I saw a character actor who looked super familiar, but I couldn’t place her. Then this morning as I am making hash-browns and eggs and perusing Netflix for the kids I saw an old haunt from the 90s…Harriet the Spy! Though I was in high school by the time this came out, I went and watched anyways…loving the whimsical, unrealistic, overdeveloped plot and the adult, Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue. So of course I popped it on and sat back to breakfast and some retro childhood tv. and then realized that the actress from CI was non-other-than Harriet.

It was to my horror, however when I rediscovered that the overly-mature plot and chatter I enjoyed as a teenager was entirely inappropriate for my young children to watch. I’m not sure if things just flew over my na├»ve mind when I was young or if I was just incredibly unattended to (I think both were true), but what I didn’t catch then, stoodout with great prominence now (like viewing Greese as an adut…you catch ALL the inuindos).

So I decided to IMDB Harriet and realized she has been in some real classics like Euro Trip, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ice Princess. Is this symptomatic if being a childhood star? Is Shia Labeouf doing better?

I believe the real problem lies not in children actors, but in what they are perpetuating. For instance, Harriet is a classic children’s novel, but Nick made it a sexually energized preteen escapade that has kids believing the flirtatious interactions if three twelve-year-olds are normal social cues for a sixth grader. Did you know the average age of an actor playing a high schooler on Glee is 26? What are we telling young generations about growing up? About appropriate ages of sexual maturity? About interaction with friends? Parents? Strangers?

We arent even talking aboutwhat this is doing to the kids them selves (Lindsay Lohan anyone?). I think Nickelodeon is saying that if it sells, if it captures the attention of kids they will do it. This runs contrary to PBS shows for the same demographic. I don’t think I ever saw an episode of Ghostwriter (that’s right…I watched that show) ever reference the budding size of a twelve-year-olds breasts and then make a joke about her bending over so the boys could seek a peak. It is straight up marketing…give people what they want and they you will sell a lot…take away their choices for extra large drinks and they through a fit…even if it’s what’s nest for them. The maxim “if it feels right do it” is a recipe for disaster…especially when it comes to kids. This is what is known as a demagogy-rule by appealing to emotions, desires, appetites, etc.

What do you think?

Please keep your comments polite and on-topic.