YPulse: Condescension Does Not a Responsible Marketer Make
Renee Hobbs freaks us the fuck out.
Who is Renee Hobbs?
My Pop Studio is a pretty interesting site. Founded on the notion that society promotes developing self through sales, it "pushes back" by imbuing girls with critical thinking skills for battling media messages.
A series of free online games teaches kids about how media works by letting them manufacture culture: you can observe how your feelings about a product (like lip gloss) change depending on the backgroud music, create a pop star, and practice multi-tasking.
This could be a great resource for kids. In fact, it probably already is - the site boasts partners like Alloy, and Hobbs champions her team as masters of viral and WOM marketing.
In the meantime, our experience of the product is colored entirely by Hobbs' own personality, who's an overwhelming real-life version of Nurse Ratchett.
Listening to her is like being at church (with the preachy hellfire-at-your-door tonality) and gym class (with all the "puberty"-speak). She bestows upon us the knowledge of "What really matters in contemporary society," discusses stereotypes, and bemoans the "buying as being" mentality - all of which seem to be more of an issue for her than for anybody else.
At some point, she actually scolded us about how we "obviously" don't aggressively promote the importance of science and engineering.
We get the importance of her message but her implication - that all marketers do is manipulate kids to the detriment of their souls - is tiresome. We're not here to feel guilty about hocking cyber paper dolls and bubbly MySpace layouts; plus, those of us who have a kid in our lives know they can be pretty savvy.
When we visit My Pop Studio's Pop Star section, we can hear Hobbs shoving "value messages" down our throats. When we edit images on Photo Fakery, we see Hobbs sneering about the superficiality and unrealistic demands of the fashion world.
Because of Hobbs, the website condescends to both the media and kids. It truly walks a beautiful line.
Contemplating the success of My Pop Studio thus far, Hobbs makes an unsettling laugh sound and says, "We're academics! We make EDUCATIONAL MEDIA. For us this is a SLAM DUNK."