Friday, June 7, 2013

What's the Appeal of High School?

Who's seen these at Target? I can't seem to avoid them.

Monster High in all their ghoulish glory
Target Audience: 8-12
They call them 'dolls'. Personally I think they're spindly insects who escaped from the Amazon, crawled through a nuclear waste deposit, and settled down in a high end department store. My friends' little sisters have them. They scare me. The limbs snap off because either
1. Some of them are zombies
2. All of them are made in cheap Chinese factories
Apparently infesting the world with radioactive fashion bugs isn't enough, so Mattel's releasing a sister franchise.
Left to right: Briar Beauty, Apple White, Raven Queen, and Maddie Hatter
This seems much nicer. The characters are fairy tale creatures, so none of them have stupid names like Draculara and Venus McFlytrap. Although I'm not sure Apple is an improvement.
I did play with dolls up until around twelve, but they were shall I say this? Human. Most of the girls I see with Monster High are six. They barely know what kindergarten is. Why, I wondered, do they want to play with high school toys?
Then I remembered my own childhood.
This began as a movie. I won't even get started on it because none of the actors were high school aged.
Target audience: 8-12
Then it spawned dolls.
Target audience: 8-12

High School Musical: The Junior Novel
And look, literature.
Target Audience: Guess

From the time I was eight, I read books and watched movies about teenagers. The cheerleaders. The jocks. The geeks. The outcasts.It gave me a warped idea of high school. I expected a soul-crushing universe where everyone's organized into a caste-like system based on grades, money, and letterman jackets.
When adults think of teenagers, they imagine someone who can drive a car and flip burgers for minimum wage. Books, movies, and toys, regardless of which demographic they're pandering to at the moment, are all about high school. That's only the upper half of adolescence. The lower grades, especially that 12-15 gap, are invisible. They push the message that "Older is Better". High school is a glamorous world of tryouts, sweet crushes, prom, and cutthroat locker room conspiracies.
Let me say it. High school is exactly like middle school, but with more people and more homework.
I've always been an avid reader, but I could only find one book about middle school that was actually meant for middle schoolers. There have to be more out there, but I looked.
Oh well. There's always those little pink Candy Apple books.
They sell these at Justice next to the sparkilicious lip gloss.
Target Audience: 8-12
Technically middle grade encompasses those first few years of middle school, but as you can see, the franchise doesn't always hit the target audience.
So I read up. Just like everyone else. If you want quality entertainment, you're forced to look elsewhere.

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