see these songs: childhood and mass culture

rita marisa ribes pereira


This paper proposes a discussion about the construction of aesthetic values by children. The discussion focuses on the relationship between preschool children and popular music. It considers their preferences, their opinion about the music that they hear and dance to, and their conceptions of childhood that is built on the interface with mass media’s implicit concepts. At a first sight—or first “hearing”—one may have the impression that some of these songs do not belong to the universe of childhood. If one looked for them in music shops or on websites that offer lyrics, chord notations or MP3 downloads, they certainly will not be found on shelves or links dedicated to “children’s music.” Even in the productions labeled “childish,” we find recordings of children’s groups miniaturizing famous adult groups, singing the same songs or remixes with childish patterns, assuming the same costumes and the same choreography. Many of those child groups were created for game shows and competitions inspired by the headhunters logic. Although these songs are not categorized as childish, children are in fact the target audience, and account for the largest number of viewers, a fact which suggests that we reflect seriously on the roles that children are taking on in the world of consumption. The central inquiry of this text is into the meanings that children attribute to this kind of musical production. This issue leads us to reflect on two other aspects of equal importance: the meaning that this type of production has in the field of art and, consequently, the meaning that art takes in the life of children. In the context of the culture industry (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1986) and of an age of mechanical reproduction (Benjamin, 1987), exposure becomes not only a fundamental criterion of appraisal of art, but in fact comes to define its condition.


Childhood; Aesthetics; Mass culture; Music; Media


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childhood & philosophy Creative Commons License
e-issn 1984-5987 | p-issn 2525-5061