According to Benet-Weiser, Sarah, consumer citizenship is asituation where one makes decisions based on social, ethical,economic, and environmental contemplation. She uses a study survey onover fifty children, who watch Nickelodeon. She refers to the onceexperimental television network as now a “Nickelodeon nation”(Banet-Weiser 38). Theresponsibility lies in the freedom given to the kids once they arewatching Nickelodeon. The network gives the children a chance to havereal choices and real political identities. The idea of consumercitizenship comes in, as the children are the target market for theshows on Nickelodeon. This means that much of their attention orientsto the shows and hence their lives in general. Nickelodeon shows areimportant in children lives since it forms an information basis andteaches children some values like family at their tender age. Thisessay focuses on the choice definition of family, different responsesfrom different backgrounds and the reaction from a popular culture.
The nickelodeon television network realizes growth and stability ofits company due to their loyal target market, children. When childrengain interest in the animated world, it is because their minds aretender and eager to learn new things. It is the prime time to engagea child in learning due to the receptive nature of their mind.Children also fancy a colorful world just as nickelodeon (Landis61). At their tender age, family forms part of the crucialissues in their lives. A popular show on the network is SpongeBobSquare Pants. The show involves underwater life forms ascharacters and a sponge. They all live and interact under water as afamily unit. As in the show, the definition of family goes beyond thebiological family unit, which is blood-related. Family is a bond thatexists when people share many things and activities, on a dailybasis. Nickelodeon shows such as SpongeBob Square Pants, teachthe children important family values as family being the basis of asocial unit, problem resolution in the family, respect andassistance. According to Banet-Weiser (88), some other shows createcontradictions within the family unit. Such shows appeal to theparents to be non-violent and “Let the kids be” while appealingto the children that it is “Us against the world.” Here, there isa conflict of interest since the children will be in control.
The idea of consumer citizenship received quite a number ofdifferent responses from different target groups and part of thepersonnel, as well. Banet-Weiser clears the idea of being “in”the Nickelodeon world by giving a comparison of some views on thematter from creative directors, programmers, and Nickelodeonchildren. She highlights the show’s view on the girl child, ironicgender approach, and diversity (Banet-Weiser104). She refers to the ideas and questions that come up inthe show over the years as a complex. The adult target groupquestions whether the network tames or champions these social issues.As per Banet-Weiser, the network is majorly focuses on attainingprofits while overlooking their social responsibility to the growingchildren, the leaders of tomorrow.
Banet-Weiser adds on that the network considers the children asconsumers of their product. Therefore, in the Nickelodeon world,children have commercial rights to form an allegiance to their choiceof view, have rights and political decisions. Though it may benefitthe children later in life, they skip a crucial learning period.Later in life, children may require the skill of making life choicesamong many opportunities out there, but the very basic qualities likefamily values bypass them. From a personal point of view,Banet-Weiser strikes the nail hot. The main objective of thetelevision network should not only be profit maximization, but alsoteaching their viewers primary values. Value education should be aresponsibility to the network since they possess the necessaryplatform to reach out to almost all the children worldwide (Jakubiak,Cori, and Michael 42). She argues that it is only right to doso since it is logical that a great deal of the network’s membershave children in their audience.
On the contrary, to Banet-Weiser’s critique, there is a positivefeedback from the popular television culture among children. Childrendo not just watch television it is more of an interactive show thanit is watching. It is evident since the cartoon programs often askthe viewer questions regarding the show’s context. Viewerinteraction and other features of the network’s shows make itaddictive to the energetic children. The children form allegiance tothe network, being oblivious of the educational time and informationthey miss. Consumer citizenship may be beneficial in a way or two,but in all the occasions, it pulls the balance of scale down on theproducer’s side. Having the idea of watching Dora the Exploreor SpongeBob Square Pants as a cultural determinant may beminute, but then again the odds of negative results in the future aremuch higher. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the cablenetworks balance their objectives or narrow the gaps between them.
Banet-Weiser, Sarah. Kidsrule!: Nickelodeon and consumer citizenship.Duke University Press, 2007.
Jakubiak,Cori, and Michael P. Mueller. "Critical Civic Literacy and theLimits of Consumer-Based Citizenship." AssessingSchools for Generation R (Responsibility).Springer Netherlands, 2014. 35-51.
Landis,Winona L. EverythingYour Heart Desires: The Limits and Possibilities of ConsumerCitizenship.Diss. Miami University, 2013.