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[- Kidult Konspiracy?
By amy, Section question corner
Posted on Wed Sep 3rd, 2003 at 09:33:24 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
The New York Times News Service posted this story, which I can't seem to get out of my head for various reasons. There seem to be inconsistencies throughout the article as to what actually defines kidultism, but there are also some assumptions that bother me more deeply. While I have no particular interest in the Care Bears, Hello Kitty, or singing Itsy Bitsy Spider, I certainly do have some interests which might be considered more appropriate for a "younger demographic." Am I a kidult? Or is the very notion of kidultism, which is evidently considered "bad" - a way of pushing adults into doing more of things corporate society deems positive - like taking out mortgages and working all the time?


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

A quote from the article that intrigues, or at least confuses me:

While there is nothing new about adults reveling in kiddie culture -- Shirley Temple, Roald Dahl and Pee Wee Herman all had plenty of adult fans -- market researchers say an especially strong wave of childishness began about two years ago.

Theories on why things changed two years ago? (Assuming they really did... )

1) Dotcom bust - people stopped working every waking hour and actually had some time and energy to do something they wanted to do. Since the kidultish activities in the article range from doll collecting to buying a recreational vehicle marketed toward a younger demographic, I'm not convinced this is evidence of a sudden wave of "childishness" so much as a wave of leisure time (heaven forbid!)

2) I don't want to dismiss the obvious event of 2 years ago without addressing it: September 11th. An easy theory would be that 9/11 was so serious and adult, people wanted to escape into childhood. But that one sounds like Dr. Freud to me. OK, now I'll dismiss it. If anyone can make a good case for 9/11 connections, go for it; I can't come up with one.

And an even weirder quote:

Some social scientists, however, see signs of a deeply troubling trend. That so many adults expend so much time and energy pursuing the thrills of youth just proves how significantly "adulthood has lost its appeal," said Frank Furendi, a professor of sociology at the University of Kent at Canterbury in England. "Adulthood has got nothing attractive about it anymore. That's actually quite sad."

What exactly does he mean by that? What used to be attractive about adulthood that isn't anymore? Have the kidultish activities replaced adultish ones one-to-one? Were those leisure activities? Or were they working and taking out mortgages?

Well, I best get off this weblog now - I've heard blogging is kid stuff...

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Kidult Konspiracy? | 8 comments
[new] I Invented the Term KIDULT in 1980... (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Stranger on Tue Apr 20th, 2004 at 06:58:36 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME


Search on the word "Kidult" in Google. See what you find. Guess what? I invented that term in 1980 to describe a new kind of big-kid-hybrid-adult that I saw evidence of all around me. I found that this type of person was emerging way back in 1980 and I shared that concept (and the "Kidult" term) with literally thousands of people throughout the course of the early 80's. That term is now used by nearly every big advertising company in the world - they use it describe exactly that type of person - the big-kid-hybrid-adult (usually male).

Did I copyright the term for some kind of "proof"? No, I didn't. I don't really need proof. I'm not interested in claiming the rights to any of the things that come to me intuitively. While it might be nice to get some royalties on some of this stuff, I'm already very well paid from my "normal" work as a Systems Analyst and IT Project Manager.

I AM Jala*AN.
Lawrence, Kansas, USA

[new] kidult vs tween (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#7)
by paullloydsargent ( on Tue Nov 11th, 2003 at 09:12:18 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

The term 'kidult' might be a recent addition to US jargon (like 'yumtastic' or 'tween,' most buzzwords created in the US are advertising terms, no?) but the "trend" of adults buying kids' stuff predates 9/11 by at least a generation. What was the whole Gen X thing if it not a marketing demographic of post-kid/pre-grown up adults, already nostalgic for Goonies and GI Joe crap? In '99 or so I remember seeing, get this, news stories about rich dotcom types buying skateboards and kitsch. Remember their 'relaxed' new business models?

I do understand a sense of love&hate with american pop culture. It takes a lot of soul searching to revisit a childhood love for Disney World with critical eyes. Artifice vacations mixed with treasured family memories--I mean, where is the line? Parents took their kids to Star Wars, did the Santa thing, bought them junk by Hasbro and Mattel to prove as one does in this country, through the purchase of goods, their love for their children. So the unraveling of that mess isn't as easy as many would claim it to be.

signs, signs, everywhere signs...

[new] regressive tolerance (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#5)
by BrianHolmes on Wed Sep 24th, 2003 at 04:30:07 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Here's one of the things that has really made the artistic-political subculture obsolete: the total acceptance of anything if you happen to enjoy it, or if you think someone else does. Amy, I'm sorry, but I can't believe there's any reason to go on with the kind of ambiguity that seems to interest you. It's obvious that American consumer culture is out to infantilize entire populations, and while it's not so interesting to simply state the fact - the NY Times is already doing so - it is really important to give up the old cultural studies standby, "there's always a subjective angle to consumption." At this point one can only say, so what? A country, indeed a civilization (let's get Europe into this too) that can't find the political will to do anything except prey upon its people to make them into consuming blobs (there was a great article in the Monde Diplomatique a few years ago about how American capitalism treats populations like trash cans - now you see obesity on the rise in Europe too), a civilization that can't respond to the enormous challenges facing it - namely environmental decay and global civil war - is in need of some kind of public ethics, clearly an adult preoccupation.

People should be less tolerant of corporate abuse, particularly the kind that reduces your brain to self-indulgent mush (this is a general observation, not a personal insult). Americans should get back to criticizing what is now quite obviously a diseased civilization. Part of the overall disease is the sentimental manipulation that goes on via advertising and consumer seduction, at literally massive scales. Is there a fundamental difference in value between mass produced toys aimed at a statistically defined population, and children's theater programs that present original stage performances to school kids, allowing them to connect the magic of artifice with the human presence and effort that makes it possible? And offering them, not only an exquisite pleasure, but also an experience of the complex relation between distance and participation that has been developed in the theater over centuries? If you can't say yes, then you just have to go along with the deadening banality of consumerism - and people do this all the time because they don't want to appear "extremist," they want to be tolerant. Let's just go out and have some fun. It's to the point where Marcuse's "repressive tolerance" has just become "regressive tolerance" - collective self-infantilization.

If one answers the above question about children's theater by saying, but there are no such programs in the US, or only for privileged children, then there's a conclusion to be drawn: that's because in the US we have failed to realize the promise of a society of abundance. In France you still have such programs mainly in the poorest towns, because the local communists (not to be confused with the former soviet communists please) and other people on the left have been concerned with culture, they have seen it as a path toward autonomy and emancipation. But now the right wants to undo some laws which helped make this kind of theater program possible. So of course, people involved with culture have to actively protest and offer alternatives!

Pleasure, as the old cult studs people always said, is political. But it's far from certain that whatever makes you feel good is good politics - you have to choose, not to make repressive laws about what individuals do, but yes, to make public choices about what happens in the public realm. And the left, particularly but not only in the US, has to admit the huge political failure that it has been part of. Anything else, for intellectuals, artists and so on, is really regressive, it's burying your head in the sand. What we need in the face of the current cultural disaster - perhaps best exemplified by the success of the kidult Hollywood reality show of the heroic rescue of Jessica Lynch, for details see,2763,956255,00.html - is cultural critique and activism. That would be something to do with one's leisure time in the wake of 9-11!

best, Brian

[new] recollections (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#3)
by Anonymous Stranger on Wed Sep 24th, 2003 at 04:22:48 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME

Two points.
First, and poss slightly off-topic, Americans need to realise that 9/11 only matters to them. The rest of the world, which has always been very aware of its own mortality, just doesn't really care.

Second, you are really really fooling yourself if you think that this kidultism (what a stupid word) represents some kind of reaction against corporations - it is just the opposite, its a massive appeal to corporates to play mummy and daddy to a generation that has only ever known corporate control. That, combined with a blanket perception that Japan is cool (despite it being the 2nd most racist society on earth next to USA, the 2nd most sexist society on earth next to UK, the second most socially oppressive nation on earth next toChina, and THE most corporate controlled society on earth) adds up to an attitude of "just sell me anything that lets me avoid thinking."

  • re: two points by amy, 09/24/2003 08:16:27 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)
[new] connection (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by Anonymous Stranger on Fri Sep 5th, 2003 at 02:48:29 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME

The 9/11 connection might just be something as simple as an enhanced recognition of our own mortality. In America, at least, we've developed a mild sense of invulnerability, and that was shaken by the events two years ago. When it's driven home to you that yes, you too could die, denying yourself a simple pleasure like watching cartoons because it's childish just seems silly.

Actually, I see the recent wave of kiddiness as a refreshing sign of sanity...

  • yumtastic by TreborScholz, 09/05/2003 10:25:33 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)
Kidult Konspiracy? | 8 comments

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