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The Cute and the Cool: Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children's Culture 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195156669
ISBN-10: 0195156668
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The strengths of Cross's work are his extended analysis of the rise of the consumer market and his thorough grounding in the details of children's popular culture in the United States since the late nineteenth century. On balance this is a lively, provocative, and very readable analysis of a persistant social concern about children and youth." --American Historical Review


About the Author


Author of An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America, Kids' Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood, and seven other books relating to the history of modern society, Gary Cross is a Distinguished Professor of Modern History at the Pennsylvania State University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195156668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195156669
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Gary Cross's book starts out with a painful paradox, and then becomes less subtle and nuanced as it goes on. There is something obsessive with our desire for childhood innocence, there is something unhealthy as we try to find spiritual meaning them by showering them with gifts and ensnaring them in the consumer marketplace. "We buy more things for the little ones at birthdays and holidays than research shows they want, and then we fret when older children seem so insatiable....We want kids to be kids, and yet we force our young into early adulthood when we introduce them to the consumer market." Cross discusses how children became idealized and innocent at the beginning of this century ("the cute") in such a way as to allow a certain a naughtiness. But as time went on, children began to react to the saccharine excess of innocence and became hipper, more saracastic ("the cool"). Adults became worried at these trends and began to engage in mostly unhelpful moralistic panics, becoming alarmed at video games, comic books, smoking and other pastimes.
Cross starts off with looking at ideals of "sheltered" and "wondrous" innocence, and found that the child psychologist supported elitist tone of the first was undermined by the commercial qualities of the second. He then provides a chapter on the image of the cute child in such areas as advertisements, dolls, the rise of teddy bears and Shirley Temple. He then goes on to discuss the charming urchins and coquettes that we see in such comic strips as Buster Brown, the Katzenjammer Kids and Dennis the Menace. We then have a chapter on how holidays became more child-centered.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is so enlightening! I never really thought about children's culture in this way before. The tension between the cute and the cool has been under looked until this clever and extremely readable account.
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