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Mac Pos System
Rationale


CBS entertainment, the owners of TV.com, post an annual list of the most popular shows among kids and teens. This list, riddled with shows from both major competing networks, Disney and Nickelodeon, houses famed children’s television writer and producer Dan Schneider’s latest creation, iCarly at its number one spot. iCarly, the top-rated children's program on cable television and one of the most successful shows on cable, won favorite kids show at the Teen Choice Awards for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Schneider, the shows creator has four shows in the top thirteen on this TV.com list; including iCarly, Victorious, Zoey 101 and the show that iCarly’s star Miranda Cosgrove originally appeared on, Drake and Josh. Schneider has also written and produced past Nick hits like The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel, and All That. (Most Popular Kids/Teens Shows) You may be wondering, why does this matter?

In Sarah Banet-Weiser’s book Kids Rule! Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship, she identifies Nickelodeon’s target audience, to be kids between the ages of six to eleven. In a sub-section of the book, Convergence: Children, Consumerism, Citizenship, and The Media she speaks of the network’s ability to influence kids through empowerment. (Banet-Weiser, 2007) Commonsense.org, a website dedicated to informing and educating kids and their families in the world of media and technology, rates the show age appropriate for children eight and up, with children aged six and seven falling in the “some iffy stuff” category. (Ashby, 2011) According to Banet-Weiser, children of this age are extremely impressionable, yet at the same time hold a great deal of influence over their parents money, which is exactly the reason advertising agencies choose to spend so much time, effort and money on this age group. (Banet-Weiser, 2007)

It may be quite shocking to hear, but this show iCarly, which has been, rated the most watched show on cable for three years running and targets children in what has been labeled as the most impressionable age group, has not been researched by any scholars. A quick search on the Internet and one will find, that the only research, easily accessible on iCarly, is fan-made or Nickelodeon produced. As you continue further on this page you will read about my attempts to gauge children’s understanding of iCarly, through research into the significance of the show’s title and the repetitive use of Pear products.


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As a class we began our research into iCarly through careful viewings. After just one episode, we all composed initial questions. First, why are their no parental figures on the show? How is gender represented? And what is the title’s significance? As we continued our close viewings I was able to characterize the title and Pear Products as a spoof of Apple, the American multinational corporation that designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. Through further research, I found it fairly common for the show to spoof popular products and even stumbled upon a Wiki page, where a person has listed every identifiable spoof the show has made. Helping to support my reasoning for investigating the significance and recognize-ability of the title iCarly, is a fake blog by “All Blogs Considered,” entitled “Apple Announces New Lawsuit Against iCarly.” The blog post creates a fake scandal in which they claim that CEO Steve Jobs, angered over the use of Apple’s trademarked lowercase “i” is launching the lawsuit to protect its patent from “dumb kids shows like iCarly.” (Hampton, 2010). The article proves that at least a small collection of persons have taken notice of iCarly’s repeated commentary on the Apple Company.

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While the show's reference to Apple merchandise may seem obvious to adults, the real question in this case is, do the children understand it? If Nick is targeting the most influential age group through the most popular show on cable television, they, by association would have an immense amount of control over consumers. But I am not just questioning their ability to influence people’s buying habits. My interviews with children on this subject can apply to nearly every other student’s work in this class. It will be some of the first research ever, to gauge the child’s understanding of what may be either an extremely beneficial, or compellingly detrimental influence on children. We can ascertain how much of the show’s commentary the children understand, by studying the show’s use of references to the very recognizable Apple Company and their products. Then we can use correlation to evaluate the show’s broader influence on children, when it comes to other serious issues that the episodes may tackle, like race and gender representation, or morals, such as lying or cheating.
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To accomplish my task, I asked six children ages six, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve a series of questions relating to the show’s title, the technology present, and its representation of Pear Products. Since the children were all so young and their parents were not in the immediate vicinity, for their comfort, I decided to ask them the questions in groups. The first group was the six, eight and nine year olds who were all siblings, the youngest, a boy and his two older sisters. Of the second group composed of the ten, eleven and twelve year olds, all three were girls, two cousins and the third a friend of the family. To avoid leading the children I set the questions up in such a way, that the child would have to mention a specific word or phrase in their previous answer to move onto the next set of questions.

My first question was: “I’m sure you all know, when you are writing the title of anything, like your name, the first letter should always be capitalized. But on the show iCarly the first letter isn’t capitalized, it’s a lowercase ‘i’. Do you guys know why this is?“

The children, while all eventually reaching the same conclusion, were drastically different in their approach.
  • The six and eight year old looked very lost, while the nine year old shyly responded with “because its not part of the word Carly it just stands for internet.” She did not say anything else, and the six and eight year old simply nodded their agreement.
  • The second group made up of the older children age ten, eleven and twelve were much more comfortable and open with their answers. They responded in paragraphs for nearly every answer, and all at once in different words said, the “i” stood for Internet and the Carly because it is her house. The twelve year old then mentioned that the show was mimicking the “i” in iPod and its meaning of Internet to gain popularity.

The next question was: “What type of technology is present on the show?”

Once again the children had similar answers.
  • The first group of younger children mentioned, video camera, TV, computer, a Pear shaped iPod.
  • The older group listed, TV, video camera, media interface (they called it the show screen), Computer, PearPod, PearPad, PearPhone.

The questions continued as follows.
  • Did you see the first episode of iCarly? If so:
    • Why did Freddie create the shows name?
      • Do you think Freddie came up with this name on his own?


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If the children mentioned iPod, iPhone, during the initial technology question.
  • Do you know what the “i” stands for?
  • Do you know why the “i” is lowercase?
  • Do you think there’s a similarity between the lowercase letter in iCarly and the lower case letter in iPod?
If the children mentioned the PearComputer, PearPhone or PearPad during the initial technology question.
  • Do you think its weird that the computer/phone/pad has a pear on it?
  • Do you think there is a reason the computer/phone/pad has a fruit as its logo and not another shape?
If the children mentioned the pear being similar to Apple.
  • Why you think the show did this?iCarly_wikie_pear_company.png

At the end of the questioning, I concluded the twelve year old to be the only child who thoroughly understood the shows commentary on Apple. She mentioned several other spoofs the show had made, and said she thought the use of the Pear Products was an attempt to make fun of Apple and also imitate the products in hope of gaining popularity. During the questioning, she was the first to speak, and the most verbose. She connected the naming of the show with the naming of an iPod and other Apple i-Products. When she mentioned that the Pear Products were fake, a sudden realization seemed to come over the ten and eleven year old. They both admitted that they had searched for the products online and now realize why they could not find out where to buy them. It was after being told by the twelve year old that the products were not real that they both agreed with her beliefs that the show was just using the Pear Products as a spoof, and for popularity gain.

On the other hand, once again the nine year old, or eldest child in the group was the most knowledgeable, and the younger two followed her lead. The only real comment they were able to make was to say that the show uses the PearPhone to make them popular. All three children assumed the products were real, and defended that assumption when I questioned them further on it. The nine year old said she thought the new PearPhone, which is actually shaped like a pear in the show was “cool,” that she would like to own one, and that the ‘coolness’ of the PearPhone is why the show chooses to use it. After she mentioned the new PearPhone the other two children agreed. The group of younger children did not understand the connection between the title’s “i”, Pear Products, and Apple. Even after we finished all the questions and I went back and specifically asked them if they thought the Pear Products were on the show to make fun of iPods, they vehemently denied it.

Conclusion


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Banet-Weiser in the sub-section of her book, entitled, Convergence: Children, Consumerism, Citizenship, and The Media, illustrates the idea of developing a ‘kid culture’ through network specific ‘kid only’ targeted programming. By offering programming like iCarly, with no parental guidance, the show feeds every child’s desire to be empowered, and creates a loyal following that believe and follow what their favorite show presents them, with barely any questioning. (Banet-Weiser, 2007) My interviews provide evidence, which allow me to argue that iCarly, is doing just this. They are using the ‘cool’ factor of Mac Pos Systems and Apple products to gain popularity, while also commenting on the brainwashing effects the company has on consumers. At the same time their products have a similar effect on their target audience, even leading children to search online for Pear Products to purchase.

Nick’s target audience of six to eleven is the perfect range for maximum network manipulation. They have their own money and/or a great deal of influence over the buying power of adults, and are easily swayed by the ‘cool’ factor of products. Yet they cannot clearly identify the underlying message or connections between objects or issues on the show. In the case of iCarly’s title, Pear Products and the Apple Company, the children age six to eleven, knew the meaning of the “i” in iCarly and iPod to be Internet, yet did not make the connection between the two. They all initially thought Pear Products were real objects that could be purchased and expressed their interest in buying them. While this provides an ideal situation for advertising on networks, it does not work for the show’s attempts at handling complex issues. pear_logo

In these interviews, the only child who immediately understood the connection between iCarly and Apple, at the age of twelve, falls just outside the shows target audience. She openly admitted after the interview, in an open discussion of child media, to having grown out of the show. Just as we identified in class, she says the show moves at too fast a pace and is “very jumpy.” My results prove that in the case of iCarly the target audience of six to eleven year old children are not understanding the adult issues this show is attempting to teach. While they may be able to identify certain aspects, like the presence of Mp3 devices and various other forms of ‘cool’ technology to make the show more popular, they cannot distinguish the underlying commentary. So when it comes time for the show to tackle more serious and elaborate issues, like race and gender representation or morals, such as lying or cheating, these interviews prove, the children will not be able to comprehend such subtle and complex messages.



I find iCarly...
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Works Cited ... Most images also have links directly to the sites referenced below.