11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A subject that needs addressing...but maybe not like this.,
This review is from: Branded (Paperback)
"Branded - The Buying and Selling of Teenagers" sees Alissa Quart focusing on the increasing pervasion of corporate marketing to teens and pre-teens. She examines the harm that such efforts can cause to children, arguing that it forces youngsters to act in a more 'adult' way far too quickly, and isolates individuals who do not subscribe to opinions on the 'right' labels, stars, movies, etc.
There's no doubt that this is an important subject for study. Quart's book focuses its attention on the United States, though the foreword for this UK version pays lip service to the situation in this country. And much of what Quart argues strikes a chord - it's easy to believe some of the examples and arguments that she puts forward, because they reflect the fears of many adults.
Unfortunately, those arguments are put forward in a simplistic and judgmental way, and by failing to back up her comments with any evidence beyond the anecdotal, Quart loses credibility. The vast majority of her arguments are based on personal opinion, or are supported by nothing more than evidence of single events taken in isolation. There is no attempt to demonstrate credible support for her claims regarding trends in youth marketing, and the exploitation of teens. Quart claims that the standards of dress, image and personality set by corporate marketing are forcing more and more teens into financial difficulties, eating disorders, steroid abuse, and other problems caused by their desire to fit in. These accusations may very well be true - but there is no evidence in this book to support this, other than vague speculation and isolated examples.
Quart seems to have failed to research her subject, and is instead relying on her preconceptions of the issue. Her belief in her argument sees her using rather spurious examples to support her arguments. One particularly obvious example is her deconstruction of teen movies. This would have been much more credible if she had shown any evidence of having identified the satirical nature of many of the films and scenes that she mentions. For example she points out that in the film "10 Things I Hate About You" there is a conversation along the lines of 'I like my Skecher trainers, but I love my Prada handbag'. Quart suggests that this scene is encouraging teens to express their emotions in terms of labelled products - whereas in fact the whole scene is poking fun at label obsession. She uses the film "Clueless" as an example of this branded inanity, and fails to understand that the whole movie is a satirical observation (as Jane Austen's 'Emma', which the film is based on, was). I found it difficult to read parts of this book without thinking that Quart was forcing the 'evidence' of her examples to fit her argument (or simply failing to understand that evidence) as opposed to conducting deeper research.
Its a pity really. Quart obviously has strongly held beliefs on this matter, and she writes in a pleasantly accessible style. But without supporting evidence, much of her argument comes across as shallow. There is a very simple claim at the heart of this book - that children are too young to be targetted in the ways utilised by marketing companies. I tend to agree with Quart on this point - but attempts to change this situation should be more objectively argued and strongly backed by evidence, otherwise they lean towards sensationalism rather than genuine debate.