Films in this programme

#096 Moral Panic: Innocence Lost

a critical view on the depiction of children in media

“Children today have become the most ‘watched’ of all generations, their lives increasingly regulated by adults” (Robinson, 2008, p. 116).

Concerns about protecting children seem to arise almost instantaneously in the wake of any new communication medium. Children are often seen as innocents who can be corrupted, damaged and permanently transformed by technology in ways that adults are powerless to prevent (Baym, 2015, p. 52). In the age of social media, parents are no longer simply worried about what their children wear out of the house but what they photograph themselves wearing in their bedroom to post online (Boyd, 2015, p. 54). What we see at play here is moral panic, aimed at maintaining the dominant power relations between adults and children.

The works selected for this programme relate to three moral panics in specific: the idea that media influence children to mature too soon, the commodification of childhood and contemporary panics about the alleged sexualization of children through the use of digital technologies. These moral panics intertwine and complement each other. In labeling these debates as moral panics, I suggest that both the scale and content of media coverage constitute a response that is somewhat irrational and disproportionate to the purported problem. Often, the assertions and understandings upon which these panic discourses are based are not supported empirically, but they do appeal to and mobilize broader underlying cultural anxieties. 

Moral panics embody a call to action, a suggestion that something must be done. But what is that something? With my channel programme Moral Panic: Innocence Lost, I invite the viewer to adopt a critical view. Are the moral panics visible in the works indeed irrational? Or are the concerns regarding children well-grounded? Should we indeed protect our children from all the dangers online, or should our children – digital natives – prevent adults from sharenting? The selected works can be seen as visualizations of moral panics, but also as a dissenting voice.

This programme was created by Lindi Eijsker as part of her Internship in 2021

Films in this programme

Beauty Kit
(FR 2002, 2:17 min)
Cutely designed fake-commercials for the Beauty Kit: a do-it-yourself suitcase filled with instruments, helping little girls to adjust...
Elena “Ladybug”
Irina Botea
(RO 2005, 8:00 min)
Elena dances accompanied by her band in Bucharest, Romania, in a transitional space in between 2 blocks of flats. People pass by. Is she...
Sky’s The Limit
The Notorious B.I.G.
(USA 2000, 4:50 min)
One of the dominant ideas in pop music is the importance of being young and staying young. This is no cause of wonder, since the music...
Sigur Rós
(CA 2003, 7:00 min)
The video takes place in a dystopian future, one where black ash falls from a red sky: the whole earth seems to be poisoned. The focus...
Kidfluencer Starterkit
Lotte Ottevanger
(NL 2020, trailer 1:00 min)
Kidfluencer Starterkit is an installation inspired by the Dutch documentary ‘Mijn dochter de vlogger’ (My daughter the flogger) by...
(FR 2003, 3:00 min)
E-Baby is a 3-D generated animated film that tells the fictional story of a futuristic baby monitored through the web and electronic...
Koppie Koppie: Someone’s kid on your favorite mug
Yuri Veerman & Dimitri Tokmetzis
(NL 2015, webshop)
Koppie Koppie is a webshop that used to sell coffee mugs with pictures of other people’s children. The pictures were taken from...
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