Landscapes of Global Capital
tv globe icon link to home Signifying Clusters: Children
Introduction
Feed the children
Corporate paternalism
The cure
High tech classroom
Techno-metaphor
Child prodigy
The obnoxious visionary
Unfettered imagination
We care
Harmonious music
Cynicism of legitimation
You can't buy love
Harmony of technology
Council for Biotechnology Information
American Plastics Council
America's Pharmaceutical Companies

Children are essential props in the legitimation advertising of biotech, pharmaceutical, and plastics company campaigns. How can one criticize companies in these sectors when they provide the drugs and materials to cure disease and repair the injured bodies of children? These ads seek to ratify the power of science and the good intentions of corporations. In an increasingly hostile political world where the topics of cloning, bioengineering, and stem cell research are loudly debated in the media, under attack from both the Right and the Left. These ad campaigns seek to diffuse criticism -- a tearful father testifies about how his daughter has been cured of leukemia, a scientist discusses a drug that can control asthma, and a narrator observes that plastics allow premature babies to survive. These are all positive goals -- one sees in the beaming faces and energy of the girl on the swing, the young soccer player, and the baby touching its mother's hand emotion-laden images that are beyond criticism.

Two constructions of children dominate these commercials: the active child and the gaze of health. The former is constructed from healthy active children participating in sports--moving, running, and smiling. The images used are not the diseased but the cured. The latter use close portraiture in which the child looks directly into the camera--the look itself testifies to the quality of their lives made possible by corporate science.


Sign Formulas & Branding

Signifying Clusters

Structural Frames

Corporate Paternalism < Previous

Next > The Classroom

© Copyright 1998-2003
Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey