'Merchants of Cool' (was RE: The Stranger, on Eminem & Elton)

From: Matt Jensen (mattj@newsblip.com)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2001 - 12:20:41 PST

Tom wrote that his 6yo seemed to handle the Grammy show okay. I expect
she's a savvy media critic already, thanks to Tom. More kids could use
such education.[1] However, for the millions of latch-key adolescents
watching a steady diet of MTV, which doesn't have to observe the same
Standards and Practices as CBS, it's a heavier task to ask them to handle
it all, unassisted.

PBS's "Frontline" has an interesting documentary this Tuesday, "The
Merchants of Cool", by Douglas Rushkoff. Part of the message is that
corporations like MTV manufacture trends like Eminem at least as much as
they reflect them. To sell kids on culture that is "theirs" and
uncorporatized yet, the media has to go further and further out there.

Here are a couple of interesting quotes from the online synopsis[2] :

+ "Kids feel frustrated and lonely today because they are encouraged to
feel that way, [says media critic Mark Crispin Miller]"

+ '"Even though I work at MTV...I am starting to see the world more like
someone who's approaching forty than someone who's twenty," says Brian
Graden, the channel's president of programming. "And I can't help but be
worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that
there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could
give a child to be ready." '

If you don't plan on watching, the two-page synopsis[2] makes many
interesting points on its own. By the way, I read about it on Plastic[3].

-Matt Jensen

[1] http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/HomePage


[3] http://www.plastic.com/article.pl?sid=01/02/25/023230&mode=thread

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