Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Tween-Age World of Disney

I saw something somewhere yesterday about the top five cable channels watched in 2011. Any guesses what they are? The USA Network was number one. I never watch it. TNT was on the list, too -- another one I never watch. ESPN is not a surprise. The History Channel is -- apparently it's rise has to do with its venturing into reality shows like "Pawn Stars". And rounding out the top five . . . the Disney Channel.

So, how many of you watch the Disney Channel? If you have kids, you probably do. Well, let me rephrase that: if you have kids and don't homeschool, you probably do. An awful lot of homeschool families I know (and a few rare public school families) have resisted the pull of modern tween culture and kept such twiddle out of their family room. We did not resist enough.

For those of you who do not have the Disney channel blaring in your home on a daily basis, let me fill you in on a few interesting facts about modern tween-age culture and the efforts to tap into it.

Most of the shows on the Disney channel aimed toward the older child and tween are about characters who are performers. Hannah Montana was a pop star; Austin and Ally are a songwriting/singing duo; So Random evolved from a show about five kid performers in a sketch comedy show; Shake It Up is about dancers on a TV show; Jessie is a wannabe actress working as a nanny; ANT Farm's main character is a musical prodigy. (The same is true of Nickelodeon, for the record.) It's no wonder kids idolize the entertainment industry.

Disney Channel stars all seem to be "triple-threats" -- that is, they can all dance, sing, AND act. Even if they don't show all three talents on their own respective shows, Disney still finds ways to show them off. I've stopped being surprised when a music video comes on with an otherwise non-musical-seeming Disney star singing a song from a recent Disney compilation CD.

And these kids seemed to be owned by Disney for their tenure there. They do shows, CDs, tours, guest appearances at theme parks, guest star spots in stage shows . . . I think I heard they even live together in some kind of compound. A good gig when you get it, I'm sure, but I can see why it would feel stifling after a while.

Another interesting fact: the Disney channel does not show advertisement from anyone else. Every commercial you see on the Disney channel is for a Disney show, movie, or product. That gives you an idea of just how much money this conglomeration makes.

Which brings up a point I've considered lately. All these Occupiers and other such folks lately who are protesting the amounts of money made by rich business executives in the country . . . have they checked out the salaries of entertainers? Movie stars? Professional athletes? Those people make FAR more money than the average business executive. Nobody finds that objectionable. Hmmmm.

Yeah, I just had to make it political, didn't I? ;)

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