The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'children'
It is an early afternoon during the Easter bank holiday weekend, at an indiepop weekender at an art venue in Cardiff. A band is playing on stage, fuzzy guitar lines, drums and female vocals mixing together. The audience, or those who have arrived early, are standing and watching; they tend to be in their mid-30s and older; women wear hair slides and floral/polka-dot dresses, while the Mod Dad look, with Fred Perry polo shirts, short hair and sideburns, is popular among the menfolk. In front of the stage, what might have once been the mosh pit is now a children's play area, replete with LED-illuminated balloons. about four or five young children run around, squealing and bouncing the balloons. Wearing ear protectors, they appear to be unaware of the grown-ups on the stage holding guitars, the relationship between them doing this and the sound coming out of the speakers, or that there would be any reason to not run around in front of the stage. The concept of a “gig” seems to be alien to them. Elsewhere, smaller children bop gently up and down in time to the music in their mothers' hands, animated by parental enthusiasm; they gawp bewilderedly, their faces showing only undifferentiated emotion. The squawls of babies fill the gaps between songs and add a novel accompaniment to the jangly melodies. Occasionally, a musty odour fills the air and a balding guy in a faded Milky Wimpshake T-shirt leaves hurriedly, carrying a discomforted-looking infant to a baby-changing area.
Once upon a time, pop/rock/alternative music consumption was strictly for teenagers; you got into it when the adolescence hormones hit your bloodstream and you needed something that was yours and not your parents', spent a few years spending your pocket money on 7" records and dressing in a way your grown-up self might later find as embarrassing as your parents did at the time, and dropped it just as quickly when you Grew Up, got a job, married and had kids of your own and were saddled with the burden of adult responsibilities which you would carry unto the grave. Gradually the boundaries got pushed back, and a whole market of “adult-oriented rock” emerged; engineered to soothe the nerves of stressed Responsible Adults whilst providing them with just enough of a hit of what excited their younger selves a quarter-century earlier, it tended to a sort of soaring, platitudinal blandness; a weak substitute for what had been forfeited. Though over the past few decades, the idea that one must check one's musical/subcultural identity at the door of adulthood has been eroded even further. The pioneers may well have been the Goths, who stubbornly refused to Grow Out Of It well into middle age and beyond; though soon, the commodification of cool into cultural capital opened the doors further, until soon we had shops in trendy areas selling Ramones baby clothes and lullaby renditions of The Cure and Nirvana, and bands classified, back-handedly, as “dad-rock” or “dad-house”. This isn't completely universal—after all, supermarkets flog millions of records by the likes of Coldplay and Ed Sheeran for people who either never were into music or else vaguely remember what it felt like but have no desire to regress to that phase of their lives—but one no longer has to be a fringe-dwelling bohemian to remain particular about music
Of all the genres and subcultures, though, the indiepop scene seems to have become uniquely small-child-inclusive. As a critical mass of indiepop kids hit middle age and have kids of their own, they are more likely to bring them, en masse, to gigs and festivals, and adapt the events themselves for the kids; songs with rude words are dropped or bowdlerised, balloons are provided, and the gig becomes a mass playdate first, and a musical performance only tangentially to this. Flocks of toddlers run around, yelping and shouting gleefully, and it is seen to be their right to do so; anybody who objects to this getting in the way of their enjoyment of the music may as well be a fascist or a Tory or something equally unspeakable. The music's almost just a side product for the parents' benefit. Elsewhere, there are indiepop baby discos, acclimatising young ears to Belle & Sebastian and Allo Darlin' from an early age. Perhaps, elsewhere, there are pint-sized punks pogoing anarchically to toddler-friendly renditions of Anarchy In The UK, baby discos spinning gnarly brostep, or black-clad toddlers running around like swarms of ground-hugging bats at the Whitby Gothic Weekend, but such possibilities notwithstanding, this seems to be peculiar to indiepop. There are no boisterous toddlers at, say, shoegaze, psych or post-rock gigs; other festivals may have a few small children in attendance, but they are fewer in number, and where special provision has been made for them, it is away from the stages.
Why indiepop has, upon its members' parenthood, shifted wholesale into a toddler-friendly environment is not certain. Perhaps it's a natural outgrowth of the “twee” signifier, which originated in the 1980s as a rejection of the hypermasculinity of hardcore and/or post-punk rock, instead embracing, with varying degrees of irony, the signifiers of childhood. Much in the way that things that start as ironic appropriations often end up shedding the irony and continuing with some degree of sincerity (as seen, for example, with the “ironic” sexism of 1990s “lad” magazines), a scene whose zines and button badges copied old children's books might transform from a subculture questioning the inherent conservatism in the childish/mature dichotomy to a subculture tailor-made for small children and their parents.
It'll be interesting to see whether the toddlerification of indiepop changes the subject matter of it more than removing the word “fuck” from lyrics. Thematically, indiepop songs do tend to hover around adolescence and its long decay envelope, with themes of crushes, break-ups and being in or out of love cropping up disproportionately often. These days, this is even more so than in, say, the C86 days, as “twee” became stylised and codified into a somewhat excessively fey, cupcakey aesthetic, and some of the oddness of 1980s-vintage indie has been replaced by chaste adolescent romance like a plot from an Archie comic soundtracked by vintage Motown girl groups. Perhaps as the under-5 demographic at indiepop gigs swells, these themes will be displaced to some extent by songs about dinosaurs, monkeys, pirates, rocket ships, monkeys who are rocket-ship pirates, poop and other things more likely to appeal to actual small children.
Secondly, it will be interesting to see what a generation of kids who were brought up listening to twee pop from birth end up doing when adolescence, and the need to individuate themselves, hits them.
Recently, celebrity right-wing intellectual Niall Ferguson caused a stir when, during an investors' conference, he implied that economist John Maynard Keynes did not care about the future, on the grounds of being childless and gay. The comments seemed to have been an attempt to attribute Keynes' famous quote, “in the long run, we are all dead”, to an amoral nihilism that comes from neglecting one's duty to reproduce in favour of a decadent hedonism and aestheticism, and thus to tar Keynes' model of government borrowing and economic stimulus, popular amongst the left of the political spectrum but anathema to the neoliberal right, with the brush of this effete, degenerate nihilism:
Another reporter, Tom Kostigen of Financial Advisor, gave a longer account. Kostigen wrote that Ferguson had also made mention of the fact that Keynes had married a ballerina, despite his gay affairs. "Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of 'poetry' rather than procreated," Kostigen wrote. He added that the audience at the event went quiet when the remarks were uttered.Ferguson has apologised unreservedly for the remarks once they became public, calling them “stupid and tactless”; chances are that they've served their purpose as a dog whistle, and many of the sorts of people who see “Cultural Marxism” and decadent weakness all around them will agree wholeheartedly.
While Ferguson was rightly excoriated for the anti-gay tone of the remarks, there has been less comment on the other part of his statement, the assertion, still commonly held in many places, that childless people are selfish, amoral nihilists, who refuse to grow up and shoulder their responsibility:
There is, among many otherwise intelligent individuals, an assumption that those of us who make a positive choice to not reproduce are selfish, rootless and have no concern about future generations or the planet. But those who have their own children often forget about the world and just worry about their own ever shrinking one.
I have seen the most passionately committed feminist activists go gaga once they give birth. All the promises such as "I'll still come on that march/go to that conference/burn down that sex shop" disappear when they sprog. All those in my circle with offspring seem to become unhealthily obsessed with their own little world. Principles go out of the window ("I still hate the private education system/healthcare but I am not putting my politics before my children"), and socialising becomes impossible.Big families and the political Right have gone hand-in-hand for a while. Meanwhile, the white-supremacist British National Party, feeling the angry-white-people vote taken away by the less overtly fascistic UKIP, is encouraging its supporters to lie back and think of
"I know, by now you will be giggling over this suggestion. But think about it, nationalists need to buck the trend of 1.8 children per white household. We need to aim between 3 and 4 children each if not more," he writes. "And the bonus is that making babies is fun! So fellow nationalists, less TV and more fun! Let's do our bit for Britain and our race."
Matthew Collins, a former BNP member and now an anti-racism activist, said the post was an attempt by the party to get some attention after its poor election results. "It's tongue in cheek but there is a serious point. Griffin is always going on about being outbred and in the past he has said members need to put away their boots and go and meet women. The problem is that your typical BNP member is a social pariah who is more into pornography than starting a family," he saidA more frightening possibility would be if these people are successfully persuaded to do their duty, especially with the BNP's record on gender relations (they're not in favour of womens' rights; one of their MPs is on record as saying that women should be “struck like a gong”). I wonder in how many suburban culs-de-sac in BNP heartland, aspiring Josef Fritzls are now drawing up plans for soundproofing their basements and making notes on the movements and likely racial purity of fit-looking local shopgirls.
Dorian Lynskey, music journalist and author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs has posted a blog article about the rising infantilisation of culture, as seen in everything from food packaging to utility bills being written in a cutesy first-person voice. The catalyst having been a Sainsbury's branding exercise renaming tiger bread to “giraffe bread“, allegedly at the behest of a small child:
Surely rechristening a product to appease someone not long out of nappies marks some kind of turning point in the infantilisation of branding: a seemingly interminable trend which makes grown men think it’s OK to give their age as “27 & 3/4” without being shoved into a canal. Maybe I should ask my five-year-old daughter to rebrand the Jerusalem artichoke, which is neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem, and we can all start cooking with Goblinhead instead. Or would that be “a bit silly”?(And Sainsbury's aren't the only supermarket to do this; according to Morrison's, the natural voice of food products is first-person, in a wobbly, childlike handwriting, which is perhaps somewhat disturbing. I'm not sure I'd like the idea of eating a loaf of bread with the ascribed personality of a small, cheerful child.)
I think it’s partly related to the Cult of the Child, defined by one blogger as “the brainwashing some parents undergo that convinces them their children are innately, infallibly wise, untainted by worldly prejudices, and therefore their opinions and pronouncements should be heeded as if they were handed down from the heavens, and their every wish should be indulged”. Parenthood, instead of marking the point at which one irrevocably becomes an adult, is often presented as a second go-around, with the parent eager to shrink the age gap. The packaging of Little Me Organics (“Lots of mummys got together to create a range that was carefully selected to be the best for their little ones…”) and Ella’s Kitchen baby food bizarrely addresses parents as if they were babies themselves, making childhood synonymous with those sacred concepts in upmarket food branding, “natural” and “pure”. Handwritten, obviously, because fonts are for phonies.
And that’s the thing. The brand’s voice is “childlike” but it’s not actually like a child at all, because real children are complicated and tempestuous and say all kinds of stuff: it’s the voice of a parent trying to get a child to do something by approximating their outlook. Innocentese is relentlessly chirpy and nice, in a profoundly white and middle-class way which connects with its affluent customer base.Lynskey puts the blame for this kind of quirkiness on the rise of faux-naïf indie culture (think Wes Anderson, Zooey Fucking Deschanel, &c.), with patient zero having been the twee indie-pop genre of the 1980s, where a rejection of adult tropes was a reaction to both reactionary rock'n'roll machismo, soulless corporate music product and sexualised consumerism.
When, a decade later, alternative rock had come to resemble the things it had once opposed, via Britpop and corporate grunge, key indie bands once again reached for the satchels. Belle & Sebastian named themselves after a children’s book and wrote some of their best songs about school, while Neutral Milk Hotel recorded an album inspired by Anne Frank and the lo-fi, pots-and-pans amateurism of a particularly enthusiastic summer camp. These were gifted songwriters creating idiosyncratic private worlds born of refusal and I don’t blame them for what followed anymore than I blame Nirvana for Nickelback, but over the following decade this cult of childhood became part of indie’s schtick.This sort of tweeness spread outward, to the less muscular fringes of dance music (Lemon Jelly and Mr. Scruff are mentioned), cinema (from Wes Anderson and such to more mainstream fare), and, so on. And as we all know, every oppositional stance gets commodified sooner or later, and in this case, the result is Innocent Smoothies, inanimate objects addressing people in the first person, and a surfeit of typefaces that look like wonky handwriting. Though the end of twee may be in sight:
I thought perhaps that the whole down-the-shitcan vibe of the world at the moment would puncture the whimsy bubble. If anything it seems to have intensified the need to escape to a wuvly innocent world where nobody’s heard of the Euro crisis or Iranian nukes. But I suspect that just as indie music and cinema laid the groundwork for Innocentese, the growing revulsion towards twee art is the first sign of a backlash against it among consumers. As the language becomes more common, more widely mocked, less trusted, it becomes less useful for brands and one day soon — I hope and pray — we will see the end of the Innocents.
Authorities in Colorado are searching the skies after a six-year-old boy went for a joyride in his family's "experimental helium-balloon-powered aircraft".
On Thursday morning, according to the family and officials, the boy got onto the aircraft and detached the rope holding it in place. Sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said the boy climbed into the access door and the airborne device took off.
The craft, which is shaped like a flying saucer, has the potential to rise to 10,000 feet, Campanella said. Sheriff's officials last saw the device floating south of Milliken, which is about 40 miles north of Denver.
Boing Boing Gadgets' John Brownlee has an interesting account of playing a robot in an evangelical Christian school play as a child. An evangelical Christian robot, of course:
The play centered around Colby, a sentient Christian super-computer who — for some reason — had set up a secret neighborhood enclave for the Christian kids in the neighborhood. It was called Colby's Clubhouse, and inside, it was a Jim Jones phantasmagoria, in which a dancing, singing Christian robot led a gaggle of Bible-thumping kids in elaborate dance numbers, pausing only occasionally to recite scriptures. The main dramatic arc of the play concerned the arrival of new kid Eddie in the neighborhood: he cracked wise about Jesus, never read the Gospel, and was dismissive not only of the Colby Gang's impromptu hymnals but openly professed an admiration and affinity for that year's hot R&B supergroup, the New Kids on the Block. Eventually, Eddie is shown the error of his ways through the tireless proselytizing of the Colby Gang... as well as the direct intervention of Colby himself, who bluntly informs Eddie that he's going to hell if he doesn't mend his ways. Eventually, Eddie breaks down, falls to his knees, and welcomes Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior. At that point, Eddie is welcomed into the Colby Gang as an honorary member, presented with his very own pastel-colored, self-identifying t-shirt, and takes part in the exiting performance of the play's title song, "God Uses Kids." Curtain and applause.Of course, in retrospect, the play looks a lot more disturbing:
At the beginning of the play, Eddie moves into a new neighborhood. He's alone, depressed and friendless. Worse, he quickly discovers that none of the kids in the neighborhood like to play video games or watch movies or listen to records or play with action figures or throw the football around — you know, normal kid stuff. All they ever want to do is sing about Jesus. Raised non-secularly, poor Eddie finds himself ostracized from his newfound peers from the very start, and understandably compensates by adapting the defense mechanism of a smart aleck personality. He acts out. He differentiates himself through cynical non-conformity, but is soundly hated for it.
That's all bad enough, right? Poor Eddie. But consider what happens next. Eddie is invited to the neighborhood clubhouse. Hoping for the acceptance and friendship of the neighborhood's unseen but popular alpha dog — the mysterious but charismatic Colby — he goes, but instead of meeting another kid, the door is locked behind him and a giant metal monster lumbers out of the shadows. Its eyes spit sparks; its servos gnash like rusty teeth. It grabs Eddie by the arms and in a shrill falsetto scream that reverberates with metallic soullessness and the sounds of gears grinding, it inexorably begins to paint Eddie a picture of hell straight out of Bosch. Mewling, fleshless bird things with scissors for beaks. Oceans of boiling feces in which billions bob and drown. Bodies crawling with insects and scabs that never heal. Forced sodomy by impossible geometric shapes. The sound of infants screaming forever and ever and ever and ever. Eddie's mind breaks... as, in fact, had the mind of each and every member of the Colby Gang's under the same nightmarish duress. It is the initiation. He's been accepted. One of us. One of us.And then, of course, there is the theological question of whether an evangelical Christian robot would have a soul, which John's teacher couldn't quite satisfactorily answer.
(via Boing Boing)
A Swedish school confiscated birthday party invitations handed out by an 8-year-old pupil because he failed to invite two of his classmates, violating their rights, and possibly the Jante Law as well:
The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.
He says the two children were left out because one did not invite his son to his own party and he had fallen out with the other one.The boy's father lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman. A verdict is expected in September.
It has emerged that children in Britain are posing as paedophiles online to intimidate each other.
Officers have warned parents and children to be vigilant after as many as nine youngsters in Padstow, Cornwall, were targeted through the networking sites Bebo and MSN. Police initially believed a local man was trying to groom the children by befriending them online and arranging to meet them. But a member of the public has come forward and told them that youngsters are trying to settle playground disputes by posing as a paedophile to frighten their rivals.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: "Information from the public has highlighted a possibility that the offenders could be children aged 10 and over, masquerading as a paedophile. The investigations are continuing and at this moment we are looking into every line of inquiry and are not ruling out any possibility. However, the language used on the social networking sites such as Bebo and MSN is at times childish. It could be youngsters playing a sick game to try and intimidate friends they have fallen out with. This will be treated seriously and we will be contacting the families of the children involved and we will try and help them by involving social services."Granted, a lot of this is the inevitable modern variant of kids trying to scare each other with imaginary serial killers/monsters/urban myths, updated for the age of paedoterror, though it wouldn't surprise me if, in these jumpy times, some 12-year-old ended up on the sex offenders' register after pulling such a stunt.
(via Boing Boing)
This is not the Onion: The latest children's book to be making a ripple is "My Beautiful Mommy", written by Florida plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer, and intended to help children come to terms with their mothers' plastic surgery:
"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.
Then there are the body image issues raised by cosmetic surgery—especially for daughters. Berger worries that kids will think their own body parts must need "fixing" too. The surgery on a nose, for example, may "convey to the child that the child's nose, which always seemed OK, might be perceived by Mommy or by somebody as unacceptable," she says.
(via Boing Boing)
They're now selling toy airport screening machines for children. the Scan-It Operation Checkpoint Toy X-Ray Machine, a colourful box with a conveyor belt and a built-in metal detector, is designed to "help children understand and be comfortable and confident in the need and process of higher security protocols" in the post-9/11 age.
If there is a need for toys to instill into our children from an early age the awareness that we, as a society, are in a permanent low-level state of siege and need to accept increasing amounts of security control in our lives for our mutual safety, perhaps we can soon expect other similarly educational toys. How about a Biometric ID Card Play Set, with several Flash-based cards and a reader with working digital camera/fingerprint scanner, hich stores and checks the users' details? Or a Junior CCTV Surveillance kit, which lets youngsters play at silently keeping the city secure from ever-present threats? Or perhaps the Guantanamo Interrogation Play Set, with 9V battery-powered electric shock machine and waterboard? The possibilities are endless.
LiveJournal user icon of the day:
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A new form of child slave trafficking has been found in Britain, with human traffickers importing children to help adults claim benefits or asylum. The children are said to be rotated between families as need be. It is not clear what happens when the children are no longer needed, though "organ harvesting" was mentioned.
Bizarre musical juxtapositions of today: Li'l Gn'R, the "first ever Guns n' Roses kids tribute band", and Jewdriver, an all-Jewish band playing tribute to neo-Nazi "white power" band Skrewdriver (and apparently fronted by one "Aryan Sharon"). (Unfortunately, though, the Jewdriver site isn't Mozilla-friendly, and all the links are covered up by a gig flyer in an IFRAME.) (via Rocknerd and cnwb, respectively)
Canadian researchers have claimed that nursery rhymes put childrens' health at risk by not conveying the consequences of characters (such as Humpty Dumpty or Jack and Jill) suffering major injuries without receiving proper treatment:
The team from Dalhousie University ridiculed the idea that all the king's horses and all the king's men should even try to put Humpty Dumpty together again. "What sort of EMS (emergency medical service) training and equipment did these first responders have?"
The paper proposes a medically correct nursery rhyme:
Little Johnny rode his bike,
No helmet on his head.
He took a fall and split his skull,
His mother feared him dead. She rushed him to the ER,
Where they checked his neuro signs.
They noted a blown pupil
And inserted IV lines. They called the neurosurgeon,
Who came in and drilled a burr.
Now Johnny's fine; he rides his bike,
But he's helmeted, for sure.
A preschool teacher is taking on bad music, one kid at a time. "Rupert", of New York state, has been playing his charges everything from Belle & Sebastian to P-Funk, from outsider music to " The New Politicians (Pornographers to you and I)", thus innoculating them against the manufactured "tween" pop other kids list among their favourites. I wonder whether this will end up sowing the seeds of a backlash against the homogeneous swill that fills commercial-radio playlists and major-label rosters.
A video gaming magazine rounds up some 10-to-13-year-olds, gets them to review vintage games, like Pong and Donkey Kong and Tetris. (via MeFi)
Tim: Which button do I press to make the blocks explode?
EGM: Sorry, they don't explode.
Becky: This is boring. Maybe if it had characters and stuff and different levels, it would be OK. If things blew up or something or--
Sheldon: If there were bombs.
Tim (on Space Invaders): This is nothing compared to Grand Theft Auto III, because you can't steal a taxi cab, pick up somebody, then drive into the ocean with him.
When you expose 9-to-11-year-olds to Radiohead and ask them to draw what the music suggests to them, you may get something like this. Some are surprisingly existential, others are somewhat prosaic, and one of them is of a 1,000-foot ice cream cone, reaffirming the adage that when children recount a story they often put correct it, adding the crucial missing element of ice cream.
For the first few songs, the kids hardly move, scarcely even changing facial expressions. One girl plants her head on her desk face-first. The "hold your head in your hands and look completely confused" look is extremely popular.
Jeffrey, 9 Easily the most disturbing of several you're-going-to-hell panoramas. The booth in the center reads "Free Suicides." Someone buy this kid a Coldplay CD.
The street finds its own uses for social technologies, it seems: tourists in Brazil are targeted by swarm crime, where, upon emerging from their hotels, they are stripped of valuables by hordes of young children who suddenly appear and disappear just as suddenly. The children operate in fluid teams, coordinated with stolen (and thus untraceable) mobile phones by a teenaged recruiter/intermediary working for the organiser, who provides the phones and takes most of the proceeds.
If a law enforcement officer sees the crime and catches a child, the child can only talk about Neil. The mobile phone is not traceable. If the police catch Neil, he can only provide a mobile phone number. The adult allows Neill to collect the money ad jewelry, pay the kids, and then meet to pass over the loot to the adult. The adult is effectively "cut out" of the actual crime. Although some of the intermediaries like Neil or the children performing the crime may keep the money and jewelry for themselves, the adult repeats the process.
New problems for law enforcement officers to address: [a] fluidity of the crime and perpetrators, [b] spontaneous nature of the crimes, and [c] dealing with the children who commit the crime in the criminal justice system.
(via Die Puny Humans)
Denial's not just a river in Egypt A morbid new trend sweeping the USA: parents commissioning digitally retouched images of stillborn babies to make them look alive, or indeed sufficiently ungruesome to show off:
Her work is grueling -- she spends two to four hours on each picture -- but she has yet to turn down a photograph, no matter how grisly. Some of the photographs she gets are of 20-week fetuses with transparent skin. Others are of babies that have been dead in the womb for so long that their facial features have dissolved, requiring her to redraw them.
The next logical step would be to use photograph-aging software to interpolate the photographs into the life that never existed; advanced software would use the original photograph, as well as those of parents and siblings, to generate "photographs" of the phantom child at various ages, "growing up" in realtime in a frame on the mantlepiece. I can see a sci-fi/gothic-horror short story in this...
Research has shown that six-month-olds are better at recognising individual monkeys than adults. Proof that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and that children are more like monkeys than adults, or just that specialisation for human face recognition develops later?
There's something disturbing about a world where companies sell padded bras for 9-year-olds. (via Reenhead)
One-time big-name pop star Michael Jackson is releasing his first album in many years; and attempting to put his freak-show image and child-abuse allegations behind him, has attempted to make it as straight and boring as possible, with any eccentricities swept under the carpet of slick, commercial-strength R&B production. According to The Guardian, however, the result has been not only tedious, but also unintentionally disturbing:
Then there is The Lost Children, a hideous, syrupy sub-Broadway showtune featuring Jackson and an infants' choir. It ends with a fearful child's voice saying "It's so quiet in the forest... it's getting dark, I think we'd better go home now." It's creepy, has deeply unpleasant connotations and is appallingly misjudged.
Researchers in India recently did an experiment: they set up a computer, connected to the Internet, in a window where illiterate street kids could operate it, and watched what happened.
Mr Mitra found that within days the children were able to browse the internet, cut and paste copy, drag and drop items and create folders. One of the things they particularly liked was drawing, discovering how to use the MSpaint programme to create paintings. The children then moved on to downloading games and playing then. They did not stop there. By the second month they had discovered MP3 music files and they were downloading songs.
Cute: In an attempt to help cult indie band Guided By Voices break into larger markets, some journalists tested their music with a focus group from one of the largest music-buying demographics: 10 and 11-year-olds:
Zoe C.: "They look dirty in all the pictures."
Zoe S.: "They need more style: rings, earrings, and colorful clothes."
Tony: "Colorful clothes, baggy pants maybe, and matching outfits."
Cody: "They need a name that catches your attention. How about the Shining Stars? Now that's catchy!"
Lena: "The songs are mysterious, but definitely too weird."
Cody: "I could make this up just as good by making up three words."