#K12Media: Toys, Santa or Gender? You Decide!

08 Dec

The past few weeks we’ve begun to take a closer look at the holiday season, examining the meanings behind our holiday texts. Our first discussion centred on what, how, why, and when people celebrate, and whether people celebrate at all. We discussed the need for inclusivity and diversity in our celebrations of the season within our classrooms and schools, and the sensitivity we should develop towards the multiple traditions that surround us. In last week’s chat we were immersed in the special programming on television throughout the month of December, again examining the stories that dominate, our personal connection to particular stories, and questioning which voices may not be heard and which stories need greater inclusion.

 This week we’re stringing lights on another holiday-themed group of topics—please share any links with us throughout the chat, or any time using the #K12Media hashtag.

Please choose from the topics below:

All I Want for Christmas: Holiday Toys

The hype that surrounds the next big toy creates anxiety in parents, and a competitive shopping experience—whether its game consoles or dolls, toy manufacturers know the pressure that parents have to not disappoint their children speaks volumes about how successful Christmas advertising and marketing has become. If all media have social implications, then what does shopping for children’s toys around the holidays say about our society?

Santa: The Man in the Red Flannel Suit

A predominant image of Christmas is Santa Claus. Our modern-day Santa is a busy elf that lives to make toys and deliver them to good boys and girls. Has the pop-culture version of Santa changed the original man’s message and intentions? What are the messages that our current Santa sends to viewers? Does the message received depend on age, race, ethnicity, gender, and family tradition? Are the messages consistent across different media? What idea(l)s is Santa Claus a reflection of within our culture? Do media that subvert the mainstream vision of Santa reflect society’s changing attitudes towards commercialism and Christmas?

Gifts for Her/Gifts for Him

The holiday shopping season is a time to give gifts to loved ones that reflect their tastes, interests, and needs. When reading magazines, wandering through the mall, or channel surfing, many advertisers offer helpful suggestions that may ease the holiday shopping stress: perhaps its jewellery for the lady or tools for the man. Oftentimes, gift-giving guides create assumptions based on gender that begin to reveal many of the underlying stereotypes that still remain an undercurrent within our society. What types of “personae” are created to represent certain types of men/women/children, and how accurate are they meant to be? How can we enhance our understanding of these stereotypes, and begin to re-examine the values of consumerism that are also present in these guides? 

Image via ChristmasStockImages.com