Sunday, December 15, 2013

Commodification And The Sale Of Innocence

**Warning: this post contains my opinions, and a rant to go with them. If your family choices are different to ours, please do not hear me judging you. You know what is best for your family, just as I know what is best for mine.**

Every day since the first of December, our family has opened one of our little advent sacks and read the message inside, and have enjoyed completing the Christmassy activity or tasks each day. Yesterday's message read,

There are a lot of movies about Christmas. Today we are going to watch a Christmas movie.

In hindsight, I should have hired a Christmas movie from the video shop. Instead, we checked ahead to see what was showing on free-to-air TV and decided to watch 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas' on commercial TV. (Also, in hindsight, I really should have picked a movie that I had seen ahead of time. I found The Grinch to be a little too 'old' for our kids.)
Our kids rarely watch TV, and when they do, the only watch ABC2 or DVDs that we have handpicked. We keep them very sheltered from the media, as far as we can, as we believe that there is plenty of time for them to be bombarded with the messages and pressure of the media and modern society, and their innocence and childhoods are a gift to be treasured, protected and nurtured. 

Last night, I watched my girls watch TV. I watched them take in the ads, the suggestions that they should want this product or that, that this object or that one would make them happy. I watched them watch news headlines, and promotion clips for other TV shows.

I wondered why, in a G-rated family movie at a 7pm timeslot, the channel would feel the need to air news headlines about brawls and murders, complete with confronting images. I wondered why they would advertise M-rated TV shows, complete with clips that I feel were definitely not appropriate for children. Why would I want my young children to see that? If I, as a mother, make the choice to allow my children to watch something that has been deemed appropriate for young children, then shouldn't that child-appropriateness naturally extend to the commercial breaks as well?

Unfortunately, a little research told me that my stance is not shared by the governing bodies in charge of monitoring TV advertising standards and viewing safety. Apparently, it is allowable for TV stations to air promotion of M rated material during G or PG programs in an evening timeslot, as long as the promotional material meets the requirements of the G or PG rating. In other words, as long as the ad doesn't show too much, it's ok. A bit of online searching led me to a complaint made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority about an ad for a M rated show that was aired during an evening sporting telecast, which is legally assumed to be PG rated.The ACMA found in favour of the TV station saying that although the
"promotion does contain depictions of sexual behaviour and references to sexual activity... [it] is considered to be restrained, as the sexual activity is implied rather than explicitly depicted [and is] mild in impact."

Which leads me to question, were the images of a young girl involved in a violent brawl in Northbridge this weekend being roughly thrown into the back of a police van considered to be mild in impact? What about the news voice over detailing the discovery of a body in WA bushland, of a man presumed to be murdered? Even the news is a product to be sold these days - news images are chosen carefully for maximum impact as ratings are ruthlessly sought. Shock and sex sells, and our children are not immune to this.

How about the ads for fast food and alcohol? Should it not be a shared societal responsibility (media included) to protect our children from obesity, poor health and the normalisation of alcohol consumption? What about (and I fear I may not have as many supporters here) the messages that come through in product advertisement? The idea that Christmas is about getting lots of presents, that we should always want more? Or the ad that depicts two men competing with each other over who has the 'best' and 'biggest' camping gear?

Last night's foray into commercial 'family' TV reaffirmed for me the choice we have made to embrace a simpler, more mindful and definitely less commercial Christmas - or, indeed, any other time of the year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

This Week.....

.... we have enjoyed an early family Christmas celebration...

All very busy opening presents.
.... we have celebrated Eden's fifth birthday...

Please forgive me for the paper plates and cups - at least we could compost them afterwards!
Birthday Girl.
Enjoying the very talented face painting by a clever kindy mum.
Eden's tiara birthday cake.

.... we have done some Christmas crafting, by ourselves and with some local friends...

The spice angels we made with our friends.
Christmas cards the kids made with their Grandma.
.... we have coped with the current heatwave by going swimming and relaxing...

.... we have had Grandma over for a stay...

.... we have enjoyed cricket and homemade beer...

Even Brannen has taken his place on the couch to watch the 'kiyet' (cricket)
.... we have done some Christmas cooking...

Gingerbread Christmas tree decorations.
.... we have made some Christmas gifts...

Lined tote bags for the girls to carry their swimming gear to swimming lessons.
My first attempt at a reversible tote with box corners - happy!
 ....receiving my university results. One distinction, and two high distinctions. I am very happy with that. I am changing my course slightly for 2014 onwards, to a double major in Sustainable Development and Community Development. I am slowly hatching ideas and plans for my future 'career' (or not) direction and am very excited about what the next few years may bring.

.... the lead up to Christmas is so exciting! What have you and yours been up to?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chicken Business

Our first batch of little chicks grew up..... into five roosters and one hen. We couldn't keep all the roosters so they were destined for the freezer. Their father, our main rooster, also needed dispatching, as he is now directly related to most of the hens in our brood. We also have received roosters for eating from a couple of local friends, so Nath has spent the last few evenings killing, plucking, and processing chicken meat. Tonight will be a big night - Nath and a friend have the last of them to get through, nine roosters and a drake (which will end up on the Christmas table). We'll have enough chicken meat to see us through a few months I would say.

Killing our roosters left us with a role to fill. We selected one of the roosters we had received from friends to fit the bill of our new head rooster. He is currently terrified of us, and wary of the chickens, but he has been working his way up the pecking order, one by one, so I am sure he will settle in at the boss spot soon. He's quite a pretty little thing, too, so different from the Plymouth/Australorp roosters we have been used to. Eventually I will get another big meat breed rooster, and maybe run two pens of chooks, but for now this new fellow will do. He is a Rhode Island Red/Isa Brown cross. Hopefully he throws more girls than the last boy did!


A few years ago, when I first started sewing, I made a string of Christmassy bunting with pockets on the front to use as an advent calendar. The problem with early sewing projects, however, is that over the years you become increasingly aware of the not-so-little flaws in your rudimentary sewing, in a way that is only glaringly obvious to you, the sewer, but nonetheless has the power to drive you crazy whenever you look at it.

I decided this year, as we pulled the very rustic Christmas bunting out of the suitcase, that I would make a new advent calendar for our family. I've been struggling a little with insomnia recently, and therefore found myself at four in the morning looking through Pinterest at different advent calendar designs, and settling upon one that was actually far more work than my sleep deprived brain realised. In the couple of days since, I have cut and sewn 25 little drawstring bags, 25 little fabric circles and hand sewn the numbers 1 to 25 onto 25 little felt circles.

And I am very glad I did, because this little advent calendar is gorgeous, and looks lovely sitting in a cane basket on our rocking chair.

Nath and I wrote out 25 little messages with 25 different Christmas-related tasks for the kids to do and reflect on, and every day they open a bag to find out what their Christmas activity for the day is. Every three or four days, they even find a chocolate each!

The advent countdown is on!
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