Here we have it again. A serious Dutch NGO, specialized in youngsters and media education, Media Rakkers, claims it wants to support children in growing up to be “critical consumers”. Its director, Liesbeth Hop, states: “There is nothing wrong with ads. They have an important information function and may be fun.” The researcher they base a lot of their work on, Esther Rozendaal, is quoted to say that it is impossible and sometimes undesired to let children not be influenced by ads. The NGO has a lot of commercial corporate marketing directors in their board of advisors.
If we accept that there is nothing wrong with ads, that they have an important information function and that it is sometimes undesired for children not to be influenced by ads – we have accepted the paradigm of Liquid Life by Zygmunt Bauman. We live in a hyper-commercial society in which we are doomed to be consumers. As consumers we cannot pretend to have a modicum of self-respect. All we can do is try to survive by buying while keeping up appearances.
It is this kind of resignation disguised as child empowerment that motivates me to go on and strive for a media education that gives children the tools to be citizens.