Reception Studies of Favorite Characters
TV is still the leading medium in children’s lives. It is no question that other screens and other electronic media are playing an important role in girls’ and boys’ lives, but in terms of time spent and content that is produced, TV still dominates. Many studies have been conducted and books written on how watching television, especially extensive television watching, can be associated with a range of problems and deficits. It takes time away from other experiences, can be cognitively overstimulating, is over-commercialized and so on. Children can learn content from television, both information and social scripts, which may encourage certain behavioral patterns (and a tendency towards violence). Television, and its everyday significance for children, is certainly not without troublesome issues.
At the same time, television opens up fantasies, widens perspectives, and forms part of children’s work on their identity. Listening to girls and boys talking about their favorite TV characters, explaining what they like especially about them and how they themselves have changed since discovering the character, it also becomes clear that girls and boys use television characters to define themselves. They enjoy the stories and develop with the characters. As adults, we are often astonished and perplexed by the enthusiasm that children develop for TV characters.
Sometimes we regard this enthusiasm benevolently – at other times with disapproval. Even from a perspective with only a minimal awareness of gender, binary worlds become clear. These realms are populated by superheroes and cool losers on...