Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Mon, Apr 30 2007

Shrek is doing a great job

There are a lot of comments floating around concerning the use of DreamWorks' Shrek character being used to promote both physical fitness and junk food. Most of the comments appear to be against Shrek as a model for fitness. The Shaping Youth blog joins the cry against Shrek selling candy and exercise at the same time.

I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest that the use of Shrek in seemingly opposite campaigns may be the best thing that has happened to kids in a very long time. Parents and teachers have a great opportunity to use this issue to teach kids valuable lessons about how consumers receive conflicting messages every day and how hypocritical grown-ups can sometimes be about these things. One day chocolate is portrayed as a junk food nightmare. The next day we hear about the beneficial properties of chocolate. And we have traditional brands of cereal now incorporating chocolate into new varieties. Special K has long been touted as a great cereal to eat when you're watching your weight. Suddenly, it's fine to have Special K with chocolate for breakfast as long as you avoid nasty trans-fats. (The Life cereal line also has a new chocolate version.)

Ads for chocolate candies often include descriptive words like "seductive" and "sensual" and show people devouring the stuff with expressions of ectasy. Some scenes make me wonder if we're approaching the soft porn approach to selling the stuff. And do you ever see a chocolate-centric commercial with an elderly person or a large-figured person enjoying his or her chocolate? Of course not. The actors are all young, attractive, fit-looking and dressed for a night on the town. (Or a night in the bedroom.)

And exactly what constitutes a chocolate bar anyway? Enter the not-unexpected call for regulation. Mixed messages? You bet. That's why I believe that the Shrek character fits in perfectly with the real situations kids (and grown-ups) are faced with every day in our society. Shrek's physique and opposing endorsements should fire up the discussions about how much our society is comfortable saying one thing and doing quite another thing.

posted at: 11:29 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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