Hollywood Targets Kids
With Film 'Study Packs'
By Chris Hastings and Beth Jones
The Telegraph - UK
Hollywood studios are targeting children as young as five in an effort to drum up business for their latest hits.
Study packs for children of all ages have been produced, drawing on summer hits such as Steven Spielberg's forthcoming adaptation of The War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise, and Madagascar, and circulated to tens of thousands of British schools free of charge.
Critics have urged teachers to shun the packs, and dismissed them as a crude marketing device to sell cinema tickets. They are furious that they are sent to schools in the run-up to a title's release and urge children to see a particular film as part of their studies. Some of the packs also carry details of spin-off toys.
Nick Seaton, the chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "This amounts to cynical exploitation of a captive audience. Films are about entertainment, not education, and these companies should not pretend otherwise. Teachers should put these packs in the bin." In the past, teachers would only use films if they were directly related to a play or novel on the school curriculum. Now, even films with little obvious educational value have their own classroom material.
Pooh's Heffalump Movie, the recent Walt Disney release, had a pack aimed at children studying for key stage one art and design, literacy and citizenship. The animated film Robots had work sheets for literacy, art and design, and citizenship that encouraged children to consider the motivations of three of the robots in the film as part of their citizenship studies. Sometimes "resource material" is also delayed to coincide with the release of a film's DVD, something that the producers of the new Star Wars film Revenge of the Sith are considering at the moment.
Even some members of the film industry are sceptical about the latest publicity methods. Julian Fellowes, the writer of the film Gosford Park, said: "I think this is part and parcel of the policies that have betrayed a generation. The best way to learn literacy is to read a book."
The packs are produced by a charity, Film Education, which is funded by cinema distributors and exhibitors. The film directors Lord Attenborough, Terry Gilliam and Danny Boyle are among its patrons.
Christina Luby, an education officer with the charity, last night confirmed that some teachers were sceptical of the merits of the packs, but said that they were popular with most teachers and pupils.
"Children are gripped by the materials which are both entertaining and educational," she said. "Our materials are designed by teachers with teachers in mind."
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
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From Jim Mortellaro
This is an interesting article. But it comes as no surprise to this respondent. Back when I was in grammar school, around 1953 and 1955 specifically, we were visited by people from the Pepsi Company in class.
We were presented with recordings of two or three different jingles and asked to comment on which sounded better. I vividly recall telling the Pepsi representatives, when asked, that all but one sounded 'contrived,' fake. I also recall their being quite happy with this response.
This occurred both in public school and parochial school. Talk about marketing to kids. After that last episode, I began drinking Pepsi and asking Mom to buy it over Coke. I suppose I was even then, a pushover for a sales pitch.
The point being that such took place in the fifties too. This is not a new phenomena.



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