The Craze for the Transformers: Children’s Television and the Rise of Consumerism in China

  • Bin Zhao


As with children’s television viewing generally, what the Chinese newspapers dubbed as ‘the Transformers fad (re)’ cannot be explained simply in its own terms. Press criticism focused on the surface story – children’s fascination with the expensive American-made toys and the promotional cartoon series plus the subsequent embarrassment and perplexity experienced by parents. However, this commentary tends to miss the most important point concerning a fad of this sort – its inevitability. This only becomes perceivable when examined against the background of the socioeconomic changes which have been taking place in China since late 1970s and early 1980s, and more particularly, the emergence of a consumerist culture nourished by the revival of advertising and other liberal policies adopted after Mao died. Western influence, encapsulated in the much admired ‘American way of life’ has penetrated through the economic spheres into the cultural and political spheres. Seen from a global perspective, the Transformers fad is a long-range consequence of American deregulatory policies in the field of children’s television, and of the world-wide enthusiasm for privatisation initiatives more generally.


Federal Communication Commission Primary School Pupil Spring Festival Commercial Advertising Overseas Edition 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyPeking UniversityBeijingChina

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