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Children’s Idols and Cultural Differences

Stromae

Stromae

Last week I heard on the radio about a survey commissioned by Le Journal de Mickey in France, to find out the top celebrities or idols for 7-14 year olds. Unsurprisingly, Stromae came out top. He is certainly No. 1 in our house – and a hugely talented singer/songwriter, although his brand of disenchanted, cynical rebellion would suit an older age-group (in my opinion, but I’m just an old-fashioned Mum, right?).

Shy'm

Shy’m

Also in the top 5: actor/comedian Kev Adams, DJ/rapper Maitre Gims, actor Omar Sy and actor/opera-singer Loup-Denis Elion.  The top 10 also included judo champion Teddy Riner and (for girls especially) actress Audrey Lamy and singers Tal and Shy’m. Hollande and Sarkozy were fighting it out amongst themselves down in the dregs for the 50th place.

Loup-Denis Elion

Loup-Denis Elion

You won’t have heard of any of the favourite celebrities (except perhaps Omar Sy, who appeared in the feel-good film ‘The Intouchables’) unless you live in France and regularly watch TV or read the tabloids. So why am I telling you this? Is it an opportunity to bemoan that children seem to be attracted to the stars of entertainment? That they seem attracted to ‘easy fame’?

OmarSy

Omar Sy

Well, actually, no. Because the children’s choice is probably better than an adult version might be. There are no reality TV stars there, famous for little else than provoking scandal and appearing at every opening. There are no teenage boy or girl bands, who are created and controlled by money-hungry adults. These are all people who are working hard in their chosen field and achieving success after many years of practice. Sure, there could be more women on this list – but the women who are there are not just pretty faces or wives/girlfriends of other famous people.

MaitreGims

MaitreGims

What struck me most about the list, however, was that there were hardly any white people on it. Most of these idols are at least partly black, North African, Jewish… And that’s refreshing. You could argue that this is because most ‘ethnic groups’ (a term which sets my teeth on edge, since we are all ethnic in some way) go into the entertainment industry. However, dare I hope that this means that the younger generation are more ‘colour-blind’ than us older ones? And I also wonder what a list like this would look like in other countries: UK, US, Greece? Anyone know?

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8 thoughts on “Children’s Idols and Cultural Differences

  1. Marina Sofia – I can’t say for sure what such a list likes like in the U.S.. But I do know that the famous people – the heroes – that young people seem to talk about here increasingly reflect the diversity of our actual society. And to me, that’s a very good thing. Perhaps this generation is finally going to get closer to a really pluralistic society. Let’s hope so.

  2. Neat list. My kids are 11 and 9, and they are mostly into the Disney Channel, so any of the actors/actresses on those shows are a big favorite with my kids and their peers. But, I bet the list that kids from my small corner of the northeast United States would not reflect a list from kids in New York, Los Angeles, or even Kentucky. However, one thing is certain, I feel that kids these days are much more accepting of people who might look or sound different. I second Margot’s opinion — that’s a very good thing.

    • I wonder if the opinions would be that much divided across the US. It’s quite surprising, actually, how many of the children worldwide are quite conformist and homogeneous when it comes to celebrities – increasingly so, with the Internet. That’s why I suppose certain dance crazes etc. become so popular (Gangnam style, anyone?).

  3. When my ten year old daughter gets home from school, I’m going to get her take on this!

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  5. HMCotton on said:

    Yeah, speaking from Alabama in the South East United States, the list of idols doesn’t really differ from around the country since we all watch the same network television. Disney is a big contributor to teen idols. Mainly I guess because they are the ones willing to spend the money to employ child stars and shape and brand their entire image. This becomes a problem because as soon as the child star grows up they branch outside of the Disney universe and are now free to be who they want (I.e. Miley Cyrus) and it is often a let down because the image audiences have been fed are often false. That being said, some forefront idols are people like Justin Bieber, Selina Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, the Kardashian family (Lord help us all), the fellows from Duck Dynasty and whoever happens to be on America Idol. Kinda sad, America treats the TV like a babysitter and so children often find the people to look up to by flipping through the channels. Of course there are still wonderful parents out there who monitor their children and make sure this isn’t the case. Some of my best “idols” role models, mentors, have all been local people who made it a point to be present in my life.

    • Thank you for your comment (and for confirming some things I suspected). I know that when I was growing up my idols were much more local (with perhaps a few sportspeople thrown in for good measure, as I was into athletics at that age) – and of course there weren’t as many ‘reality’ TV shows on back then. Now that makes me sound really ancient!

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