Who’s Your Daddy – Big Brother?

My teenage daughter, Faith, loves the Expedia jingle and singing the nasal-sounding phrase at the end of their commercials. A while back we were watching something on television when an Expedia ad came on and she belted out “DOT-COMMMM” in unison with the tv. I looked over at her and said, “Your life is just filled with simple, inexpensive pleasures, isn’t it?”

To which she replied, “You wish.”

I was reminded of this vignette yesterday after reading two apparently unrelated news stories. The first was in the StarTribune’s Business section and described Senator Tom Harkin’s concern over the affect advertising has on children and his proposed legislation to control how food companies flog junk food to kids (Aiming at Kids: Pressure Builds on Foodmakers).

At first glance this seemed like some well-intentioned (isn’t it always?) nannying, especially since he’d like to limit the use of cute cartoon characters to hustle over-sweetened killer calories. (And somewhere right now Joe Camel shakes his head and says, “Dude, been there.”) Sen. Harkin loses me, however, by saying that it takes a law to keep children from being confused by conflicting messages from cartoon characters and their parents.

It’s not that I don’t recognize the influence of television, and that there aren’t a lot of even more insidious messages embedded there that undermine parents, but a little leprechaun is risking his lucky charms if he thinks he’s going to override the way my wife and I raise our kids. Are they going to obey a cartoon or their Daddy? (Yeah, I suppose our authoritarianism is crushing their little spirits, but at least they’re not choking to death on their own suet.)

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