The Cute and the Cool: Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children's Culture Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children's Culture (Hardcover)
|Author: Gary S. Cross|
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|Today we're obsessed with children, almost worshipping them in our family albums, vacation splurges, and holiday giving, anxious for their safety and future, but also fearful of and vindictive toward them when they don't fit our image of innocence. Traversing the last hundred years, historian Gary Cross reveals the origins of these deep and contradictory emotions in the modern ideas of the cute and the cool. While child-rearing experts insisted that parents shelter and nurture the child, popular and commercial culture encouraged a contrasting view of innocence: in the 20th century, adults evoked wonder in children by presenting them with a fantastic new world of sweets and toys, and stories. In images of the naughty but nice Buster brown and coquettish but sweet Shirley Temple, Americans created a new image of the child as "cute." Holidays like Christmas and Halloween became celebrations of innocence. All this reflected a more gentle and affluent culture, but it also liberated adults from their rational worlds of work and tedium with material life. The problem was that the cute turned into the "cool" when children embraced their parents' gift of fantasy and unrestricted desire and rebelled against wondrous innocence by entering their own imaginary worlds of the anti-cute. Over the course of the 20th century makers of movies, comic books, and video games introduced growing children to the often violent, and very commercialized, worlds of the cool, but parents were unwitting pied pipers in this process. Over and over, adults tried to reign in these threats to childhood innocence by trying to shelter children from adult media and dangerous addictions, but with only limited success. Theappeal of the cute has ironically been the source of a deep ambiguity toward children and the childlike.|