Today's Washington Post has a fine article on the failures and limitations of the Children's Advertsing Review Unit, which is the advertising industry's self-regulatory body regarding advertising to children. The main purpose of CARU is to act as a fig leaf to help the ad industry claim that it treats children responsibly. At the same time, the industry has loosed on our children a flood of ads promoting violence, anti-social behavior, boorishness, and materialism. And it has created in our children an epidemic of marketing-related diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism (and millions will eventually die from the marketing of tobacco.)Half Changed World notices the same Post article and, in a brief conversation with her 4-year-old, captures the lunacy of pretending that children can skeptically protect themselves from advertising:
Unfortunately, the article was illustrated with big color pictures of several products that have children's tv and movie characters prominently featured on them. So D took one look at the paper, pointed at the box of poptarts with Mr. Incredible on them, and said "I'd like those."
"Do you know what they are?"
"No. What are they?"
"Why do you think you'd like them?"
"I just do."
"If I put a sticker of Mr. Incredible on these" -- point at the bottle of children's vitamins that I've been trying to convince him to eat -- "would you eat them?"
"So why do you think you'd like those? Just because they have Mr. Incredible on them doesn't mean they're good."
"I would like them."