Category Archives: children

Stop Crying Copyright Infringement, You Greedy Capitalist Bastards!

Anyone who knows me, knows that when it comes to issues surrounding copyright I am somewhat of an arrogant prick. I’d like to believe that because I have a Masters degree dealing with intellectual property I am somewhat of an expert in the field. But anyone who has a postgraduate degree knows that that’s self-delusional; all you really know how to do is talk shit for 150 pages (mine’s only 125), and in the end you still haven’t reached any conclusion, you’re just sick of rambling for 40 000 words, so you stop. But in the spirit of maintaining my self-esteem, let’s pretend that I am a knowledgeable git because it makes this argument so much more fun if we do.

Anyway, I found this article the other day that outlined how the Belgian copyright society believes that it should receive royalties from libraries which ask volunteers to read to children. The copyright society believes that this constitutes a public performance and should be liable to the same laws as other broadcasters. The author of the article, in their expert opinion, refers to the copyright society as ‘titanic assholes’. Now, before we deviate and digress to more colourful mud-slinging, let’s address, what I believe, to be the most pressing issues with this whole debacle.

Obviously, we have yet another case of capitalist greed taking over. And far from what any Germanic tribesmen might believe, copyright is not about protecting the capital interests of corporations. It’s supposed to be about giving the author a monopoly over their work in order to ensure that they are rewarded sufficiently for their creative effort, and to give them some type of incentive to create more stories, music, art-work, or whatever. And while my view may be idealistic and naive, let’s be honest. You cannot fully justify that if libraries (which pay all sorts of other licensing fees so that they may loan books) did not pay this proposed fee, that the authors, or companies which hold the copyright, would go out of business, or that they would be unable to encourage authors to continue writing. I’m sure if JK Rowling had found out that, God forbid, children were being read Harry Potter in libraries, she would have stopped writing the series. What an absolute load of bollocks!

Authors should be thrilled if their books are being read to children, because as stated in the article, it makes it more likely that kids will want to get their own copies. It’s like free advertising, duh! Consider it like this, when new food products come onto the market, the first thing that a company does is offer free tastings and promotions in supermarkets. That way the customer gets a taste, and if they like it they’ll buy a whole box of cereal, punnet of yoghurt or bar of chocolate. So reading to children in libraries should be considered in the same light; in fact, publishers should be running these readings themselves, and not leaving it up to library volunteers. 

Added to this, if libraries want to avoid paying fees then they can revert back to children’s stories which have fallen out of copyright. This would include all old-fashioned fairy tales and authors like Beatrix Potter. Now, apart from offending a variety of Swedish liberals, the irony of this is that these are established works that don’t really need advertising, nor are they making money for the publishing industry.  Therefore, by forcing libraries to pay ultimately undermines the longevity of the publishing industry. Subsequently, it’s the newer stuff that you want to encourage children to read, so why on earth would you make them less accessible? So that you can make a quick 250 euros? All this proves, is that yet again, we live in an attention-span deficient society in which long-term thinking and planning is blinded by short-term turnover and greed.

Because Denial Really Works (NOT!)



Last weekend I came across the most brilliant story about Egalia pre-school in Sweden, and it got me thinking if our constant push for political correctness is leading to vast denialism. The article outlined how the school had, in an attempt to curb gender stereotyping, banned the use of the words him, her, boy and girl (instead opting for they and friend), ejected all classic fairy tales in favour of more progressive stories, and colour-coded all toys in neutral, gender-free colours.  And while I applaud the effort, one huge problem remains; denialism doesn’t solve problems. Trust me, I live my life under a banner of avoidance that usually wraps itself around me and throws me straight back at the problem, shattering my carefully constructed excuses.

I’m not saying that gender constructions are good or bad (I don’t have the expertise to make this argument nor do I want to invoke the wrath of scary rugby-playing feminists), but we can’t just pretend that they don’t exist; especially with children. What happens when the little genderless darlings look down and realise that their parts don’t match? And yes, I know that biology doesn’t determine gender as such, but just bear with my ignorance for a moment.



Gender neutral dolls used by teachers



So anyway, the gremlins stop screaming long enough to look down, and realise they different. Then they see the ‘real’ world, outside of their pre-school bubble, and start thinking that they don’t quite ‘fit’ with this world, creating self-doubt, or that this world is weird, needs to be ignored, and becomes a social outcast (I may be psycho-analysing a little deeply, but I think I have a point). Unfortunately, much of one’s identity and culture is arranged around one’s gender. And while existentialists may argue that identity has evolved beyond the idea of a physical body, the rest of us mortals are still rooted in reality and our sex and gender plays a part in the way we socialise. If you don’t believe me, try act like the opposite sex and see how differently people treat you as a ‘butch chick’ or a ‘pansy-fairy manchild’. By denying one to establish an identity surrounding their gender, could result in a vast array of different social stigmas.
Lotta Rajalin – Director of Egalia
Pre-School

And while I may be simplifying issues above, and gender writers are cringing at my utter idiocy on the matter, I think my next point is far more substantial.  As I already highlighted, this school has neutralised the toys and expelled traditional fairy tales. I have no problem with making teddy bears green and yellow, letting the boys play in the kitchen (I worry about the boy who likes to play in the oven though), or that the girls play with Lego. I actually think this is progressive and a far better way of dealing with stereotypes than dismissing ‘him’ and ‘her’. But to banish fairy tales in favour of more ‘progressive’ stories creates another problem. 

These new, modern tales, focus on families with homosexual parents, or mixed raced relations, or stories of broken families. CALM DOWN! Before anyone accuses me of racism, homophobia and the like, I am NOT suggesting that these books should be discarded. My issue lies in ejecting traditional stories in favour of these ones. Because by doing so, the school is in effect creating yet another form of ‘other’. By not allowing children the opportunity to engage with EVERYTHING, you are ultimately demonising the ideologies propagated in the more traditional stories, thus creating a culture that views heterosexual relationships, maternal women, and career-driven men as abnormal. Therefore, in an attempt to subvert gender stereotypes, this would just help create a new type of stereotype. Surely, it makes more sense to expose little minds to everything, and then allow them to choose where they fit in? Because while our identity is definitely wrapped up in our gender, it’s the roles that we see associated with our gender which we then internalise and use to shape our identity. If we are not exposed to all the roles, we just end up choosing from the pool available to us; and isn’t that how patriarchy assumed its dominance for centuries, by restricting men and women to specific roles? So in effect, this pre-school is just as progressive as patriarchy. Wow! Talk about irony, huh?!   

The Movies Made Me Do It

I recently read this article which outlined how researchers in America (only in America!) have linked alcohol consumption in movies to teenage alcohol abuse. They argued that teenagers who watched movies in which the actors drank were more likely to drink themselves.  In fact, it is a more deciding factor than continuous exposure to people around them who drink, like parents, or if they have freely available booze whenever they want.  Apparently, the latter two had no impact on their decision to experiment with drinking, or with alcohol abuse. My answer, what an absolute load of baloney!

Apart from questioning the validity of the study, which consisted of a phone survey(!), two serious issues have to be considered. Firstly, where are their parents? And secondly, are teenagers really so dim-witted that they have to wait for a Hollywood celebrity to do it first? What ever happened to teenagers experimenting on their own? If you ask me, this is yet another excuse to shirk personal responsibility.

This study is aimed at 10-14 year olds, so enter my first issue. Mr Researcher, these are not teenagers, they are pre-pubescent trolls that should be under the supervision of their parents. You honestly expect me to believe that it’s all Hollywood’s fault, and not irresponsible parents that have given rise to slurring, wonky, drunken gremlins? Let me elaborate. When I was ten, I was not allowed to go to the movies without an adult, in fact, I wasn’t even allowed to watch TV (other than afternoon cartoons) without an adult. And no, I wasn’t locked in a basement, being deprived of the world. I was outside playing in the dirt, or trying to ramp over dirt with my bike, or, on rainy days, reading a book. So what has changed? It’s not Hollywood! It’s parents and their complete lack of personal responsibility. They would rather blame something out of their control, like a movie, than admit to the fact that they can’t be bothered to monitor what their ‘angel’ is watching. Added to this, it’s also amazing that no-one wants to comment on a society where alcohol is readily available to 10 year olds! How does America justify that one? That’s something you should try to fix, not ban the movies from displaying a normal ADULT activity. And again, parents should be around to contextualise drinking rather than allowing TV to teach their kids about the world.

Based on this, it negates my second point about teenage experimentation because these ARE NOT teenagers. They shouldn’t even be ready to experiment with anything other than fire crackers. So then why do we allow them to dress like mini skanks, and hand over all responsibility to them? They little. Let them have fun and be children. And then when they become real teenagers, all smelly and pimply, then we can have a real discussion on teenagers and drinking.

Pregnancy and Wine

EEEEKK!!! It’s been over three months since I wrote anything… Well I have, just haven’t published it cause more than likely I’m gonna offend someone. But I felt inspired after buying my weeks supply of booze on Wedneday! While I was standing to pay at the till (Yes sometimes I do follow the rules), the most ridiculously stupid pamphlet caught my eye. Now please remember that I’m in the bottle store… This pamphlet was advertising the benfits of healthy eating whilst pregnant. IN A BOTTLE STORE!!

I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but as far as I was aware no pregnant person (male or female, I’m not judging) should be anywhere near booze… It’s one of the most important reasons that I’m never having children. I mean who in their right mind would give that up for a issue-ridden little person who hates you??

But seriously, what bright spark thought that that would be a good place to leave a pregnancy advice adverisement?! Surely, if you are pregnant and actually buying drinks in order to see the ad you’re a lost cause already?? Maybe try put it near the veggies people… At least you know those people are vaguely interested in a healthy lifestyle. And if anyone was serious about doing some form of marketing research they would just stick it onto ice-cream and pickle jars?? That’s all pregnant women want after all… Well that, and for all men to stay the hell away from them.. I mean it’s their fault that she’s the size of a hippo on Supersized McDonalds!

Coke + Children = Armageddon

After spending another weekend in the company of a sugar-enforced little person, I’ve realised that life insurance may be the way of guaranteeing I live to graduate my Masters. Much to my amusement I’ve been compared to Mary Poppins when dealing with mini humanoids… seriously are people stupid?? No one should ever be that silly… I let them do what they want in order to gain their trust… and once they think that they have someone to beat upon, I sum up their strengths and weaknesses to determine what role they are gonna play in my munchkin army!!

At the moment I’ve discovered a certain 8 year old who is perfect to lead my militia division… He has a strange fascination with explosives and no fear of getting blown up… The perfect balance between naivety of war and pure unadulterated destruction. Mwahahahahahaha!!! I have a discovered, after obtaining several broken ribs and a bloody nose, that once infused with sugary goodness the sweet innocence of childhood is replaced with primal animal rampaging, and so I have decided that before my army can be formed, I need to enrich their lives with vast cascading pools of Coke…

Once I have mastered the art of free-flowing Coke and keeping the little ones stickiness free (after all, we wouldn’t want the weapons faltering because they too are sugar coated) I will have the world’s first unstoppable army… Never sleeping, primal energy, and pure adrenalin will ensure victory and eventual world domination!!

Should Children Be Watching This?

After finding that yet again, DSTV’s boastful array of channels had nothing really to watch, I switched to old faithful.. The Disney Channel. I wasn’t too impressed though that at 10pm they had on Disney’s Funhouse, a show aimed at toddlers and various other little people. But after flipping through 100+ channels my finger was just too tired to flip away, and so I started watching CGI Mickey and Donald help Goofy get ready for a date with a cow.

What kind of message is Disney trying to send, making a dog like Goofy go for a cow? Perhaps, they’ve finally gotten past their issues of race, colonialism, and xenophobia and are sublimally telling the little munchkins that it’s ok to be with someone not quite like you. And all I can say to that is well done Disney, it took you bloody well long enough!

And whilst this step forward is earth-shattering for Disney purists, one thing that did disturb me was Mickey and Donald teaching Goofy how to dance. You would think being on Disney they would teach him to waltz or dare I say it.. Improve his hot dog dance, a relatively innocent jumping around kind of dance. Unfortunately, after watching this I have come to see how Britney could have gone from Mouseketeer to the head-shaving super skank we see today.

Donald was the one who inspired this dance, a dance called the Hop Hop Shake, in which Donald hops around and then turns his feathery little ass to the camera and shakes it for all its worth. Parents blame skanky Britney for their pre-zit pre-teens’ suggestive habits and now I’ve come to see that it has been Donald and Mickey all along shaking that ass and corrupting the innocent minds of impressionable Oompa-Loompas.

Stupid Poms

Recently the Conservative Party in the UK announced plans to pay couples twenty pounds a week if they get married: http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,91211-1274419,00.html

Their reasoning is that the breakdown occuring in British society is due to children being raised in single parent homes and in order to fix the problem couples should be encouraged to get married and raise their children together. What an absolute load of rubbish!!! Who was the brainchild behind this, seriously? You cannot tell me that a child coming from a household with both parents who are constantly unhappy is going to be better off than a child from a loving single parent home.

Has anyone considered that there are a number of other factors that are much more prevalent which have given rise to societal problems? A big problem that is on the increase worldwide is that of teenage pregnancy. Teenagers fall pregnant and end up living on social welfare for the rest of their lives. The problem here is that more and more families are living below the bread line and in poverty, not that there is only one parent. Because teenagers fall pregnant and have children so young they are generally unable to finish or further their education. They are forced into low wage jobs in order to support their new family without any prospects of promotion due to their lack of education.

So surely, a better option would be to reward young people who finish school or enter into professional training of some sort instead of encouraging couples to marry.

My other main issue with this proposition is that even if you do get couples to marry it does not guarantee that it will make them better parents. One of the biggest problems in low income households is that parents often do not have time for their children because they are continually trying to raise enough money to make ends meet; and therefore children are left to their own devices. This will not be solved if couples are married. The family will still be low income and both parents will still be consumed by trying to stay afloat financially.

There are greater social problems at work here and marriage is not going to solve anything. I recently read that we are the first generation who are not expected to surpass our parents in our relation to our careers and finances. I firmly believe that the best way to rectify the problems facing society is to provide greater rewards for completing education and lowering the costs of tertiary and professional training. I’m not saying that this will solve everything over night, however I do believe it is a step in the right direction.

Rewarding marriage financially is not the answer to a better society, in fact it would lead to an even more dysfunctional one if you consider how many will get married only for the extra cash.

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