Children’s entertainment industry changes for worse

Daniel Skinner, Entertainment Editor

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For as long as today’s teenagers have been alive, there have been toys, video games, dolls and LEGOs for them to play with. While some toys may be more extravagant than others, they all have one thing in common: a goal of bringing entertainment and happiness to children, along with the possibility of bringing in additional revenue for toy company investors.

From the 1990s to present day, there are a lot of changes that have affected the children’s toy industry both for better and for worse. One particular brand that has, in my opinion, transformed into something much worse than it was in earlier years is the Barbie/Mattel industry. Having a younger sister made me aware and interested in the things that she was interested in, and I’ve watched as the movies, dolls and merchandise have gone from things that seemed to empower girls to believe in themselves and instead focus on gimmicks and less substantial material.

Barbie remains a highly controversial role model for girls, some people considering her to be a symbol of sexism.

“I never liked Barbies,” said senior Kelly Taylor. “I thought [they] were sexist and held the stereotype that girls need a guy and a woman needs a man.”

However, brands like Barbie are accepted because they send good messages to children about their independence and ability to be who they want to be in the modern world. The real difficulty is that today’s interpretations of brands like Barbie have changed the goal of the marketing to be solely about entertainment rather than teaching kids good morals.

Barbies aren’t the only toys that have changed since the 1990s, though – in fact, several television shows oriented toward children have also gone into the same path. For example, a popular Cartoon Network cartoon called “Teen Titans” was recently revamped and placed into the station’s show listing. While it is definitely more kid friendly, its plot has changed drastically and many loyal fans of the series are disappointed in the changes.

“I love the original version of “Teen Titans,” but I loathe the new version,” said freshman Gina Maravola. “It’s way too dumbed down.”

The reason that this is representative of toy and children’s entertainment  culture in general is that most toy companies have moved their brands into creating products that seem more superficial and less about the morals and lessons the industry can teach children. Barbie was once primarily known as a respected role model for girls, but now she is even mocked by Mattel in her own animated series, “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.”

It is clear that children’s shows and dolls should be altered to fit with modern times, but they shouldn’t go so far as to lose what made them popular in the first place. While not all teenagers follow their old favorites, they still are important in some way.

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Children’s entertainment industry changes for worse