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The Innocence Fetish: the Commodification and Sexualisation of Children in the Media and Popular Culture

Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy
Issue 135 (May 2010)

Abstract: Over the past century, a great deal of cultural energy has been invested in the ideal of childhood innocence, to the extent that innocence is frequently cited as our society's most valuable asset. More recently, however, the dominant sentiment - frequently represented in news and current affairs media - has been that childhood innocence is imperilled, and that the 'less responsible' aspects of our popular media are putting it at risk. This article argues that the reasoning that engenders innocence with cultural value invites, and even demands, its violation. Specifically, the very same influences through which the child has come to be valorised also lead to the desire for and consumption of innocence. Innocence has become a 'fetish', positioned as a lost freedom and plenitude inciting desire. This article draws upon psychoanalytic theory to place into its correct context the anxiety about childhood innocence. It argues that these 'responsible' lamentations about the sexualisation of children and the loss of childhood innocence contribute to (rather than avert) a fetishisation of innocence that both prepares the ground for childhood to become the ultimate commodity, and ignores the concrete circumstances, desires and capacities of children.

To cite this article: Faulkner, Joanne. The Innocence Fetish: the Commodification and Sexualisation of Children in the Media and Popular Culture [online]. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 135, May 2010: 106-117. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=129276536203412;res=IELLCC> ISSN: 1329-878X. [cited 10 Dec 16].

Personal Author: Faulkner, Joanne; Source: Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 135, May 2010: 106-117 Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 1329-878X Subject: Popular culture; Mass media and children; Child sexual abuse; Children in advertising; Peer Reviewed: Yes

Database: Literature & Culture Collection