, Volume 23, Issue 2-3, pp 161-176

Wanted: real Children. about Innocence and Nostalgia in a Commodified Childhood

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Abstract

Today childhood takes place within amultimedia context where education, marketingand entertainment operate together in one bigmelting pot. Childhood is commodified, asituation not everybody seems happy with. Dueto increasing exposure with violence and sexualactivities, for example in children's games,children seem to lose the chance to be realchildren. In the discussions about thiscommodified childhood, innocence and nostalgiaseem omnipresent concepts. In this article wefirst analyse the discourse about the innocenceof childhood as presented by Neil Postman inhis bestseller ``The Disappearance ofChildhood.'' Here, childhood is seen as a periodwhich can mainly be characterised in terms of a``not yet.'' However, Postman's view on childhoodpresents only one side of the romanticcontinuum. The other side – in which the childappears as having a nature of her own – can beillustrated by ``On naïve and sentimentalpoetry,'' an essay written by Friedrich Schillerin 1795. Both opposing views on childhood canlead to a different interpretation of theinnocence of childhood. Finally, Schiller'sdichotomy – the naïve versus thesentimental poet – can be seen as a useful legup to the clarification of nostalgia whichseems to go hand in hand with the feeling ofthe loss of (one's own) childhood.