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TV-Hero(in)es of Boys and Girls

Reception Studies of Favorite Characters

Maya Götz

Out of all the media that today’s children encounter, what makes a particular TV character a child’s favorite? Based on 80 case studies, in-depth fan studies and standardized surveys with over 5,000 children between the ages six and twelve in Germany, this book elucidates how girls and boys use TV characters in their everyday lives and their identity work.
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“Bibi and Her Mother Are Witches“

Extract

“Bibi and Her Mother Are Witches”

TV Favorites, Everyday Life and Identity1

Favorite TV characters and stories are deeply embedded into children’s lives and identity work. This cannot be simple, because human beings are anything but that. The following excerpts from the case of Martina shed light on this complexity:

“I really like that Bibi has witchcraft and is a bit cheeky.”

Martina is 10 years old and is in the fourth grade. She lives with her younger sister and mother, as well as her “new” father and his 17-year-old son in an apartment in eastern Germany. Her older sister and her dog have stayed with her father following her parents’ divorce. Martina enjoys watching the daily soap opera Good Times, Bad Times and The Simpsons. Her very favorite character however is the children’s television character Bibi Blocksberg. Martina describes her: “Bibi Blocksberg is a little witch, she can do magic, so she is cheeky too, she puts spells on people, she does spells she`s not really supposed to.” Martina has a lot of Bibi Blocksberg audio tapes and books. She watches the shows on television regularly and is able to tell a whole range of the stories in full detail. Martina says she often imagines what it would be like to be Bibi. In the stories she retells, Martina stresses how Bibi helps disempowered people. For Martina, Bibi’s intentions are always good; however, she also recognizes that Bibi often crosses boundaries,...

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