Common Sense Media Awards: What’s Enthralling? What’s Appalling?

csm-on-button.jpgThose of us aligned or partnered with Common Sense Media filled their awards ceremonies with support last evening in a massive ‘redlight greenlight’ show of “Offuls” and “Onnies” in kids’ media.

Shaping Youth readers will find no huge surprises…Common Sense Media’s picks for “Offuls” in mixed messaging went to:

Shrek for junk food, (which we shined the spotlight on many times over in features, here, and here, and here) the Transformers for the movie/toy disconnect (CCFC revealed PG-13 violence marketed to preschoolers in 129 Hasbro toys) Celebri-media (for constant coverage of lousy role models and celebutantes) and Rockstar Games (maker of Grand Theft Auto, and repeat winner for “gaming the system” with its Manhunt2 AO Rating being ‘dialed down’ to an M based on unspecific ‘revisions’).

As for CSM’s “Onnies,” you KNEW those sprinkles of magic dust would go to Disney Channel’s blockbuster hit High School Musical2. Richard Ross, President of Disney Channel Worldwide accepted the TV & Music award (along w/HSM stars Monique Coleman and Olesya Rulin, which made my tween squeal and power whine that I brought GACtv’s Lisa Izzi with me instead of bringing her). He also said, “through your support we’ll ensure our voices are not hollow” and urged parents to express themselves with conviction. Interestingly enough, he mentioned that after eleven years, airing his 61st Disney channel movie, his biggest ‘numbers shock’ came with HSM2 airing twice in China, gleaning an “above average rating.”

When he asked, “So what does that really mean? How many people is that?” “Oh, about 50 MILLION.” Whoa. That’s TWO, airings. Talk about massive reach and media impact en masse! See why we need to be more accountable about media messaging we produce and export to other countries? Yowza.

Meanwhile, in the name of family fun, J.T. Snow slugged a few against Wii boy Ethan to demo Nintendo’s popular award-winner Wii Sports, for “Best in Family video games.” By the way, soon, you’ll be able to even download DS demos at home through Wii, but pretty puhleeeze don’t try to tell me swinging a virtual bat at a screen substitutes for fitness…’k? Fun? Yes. Fitness? Egad, boot those bottoms out to the grass field, champ!)

CSM also added a humorous bit about kids asking about ‘erectile dysfunction’ in the 2nd and 3rd inning of a Giants game, eluding to the ‘tmi’ of ad placement for macho market share amidst sports broadcasts and live game big screens.

I can almost feel that tug on the shirtsleeve at the Giants game, “Mommy, what IS Viagra?” Hush, dear, have a hot dog…

Warm-n-fuzzy ‘awws’ went to the charming procession of little Harry Potter-ites who filed on stage to accept the award for “Excellence in Kids’ and Family Books” on behalf of all “readers and fans.” The Harry look-alike graciously thanked JKR for “creating action and suspense to spark the imagination, and “making kids like me ask bigger questions, like…does magic exist in the real world?” Sweet.

Steve Tish, Hollywood producer of Will Smith’s locally filmed San Francisco fave, “Pursuit of Happyness” buzzed the crowd with whispered gasps as he announced he had FIVE kids of his own. He gallantly personified industry accountability when he attested to ONLY producing films he deemed worthy, and made a plea for responsibility and ‘common sense.’ (note to self, put this film in my Netflix queue, despite the movie’s errant spelling of happiness which always chaps my hide on the literacy front. I somehow managed to miss it in theatres and on every inbound/outbound flight by one leg)

One of the fabulous hits of the evening was the probono video produced by Brian O’Neill to delight the crowd with the year’s pop culture mega-morph of media shifting every nanosecond. It’s truly a fluid ‘work in progress’ as new forms and functions take shape before our very eyes.

In my estimation, Brian should receive the ‘most underpaid talent’ award! Get that man in our consortium! (CSM founder Jim Steyer must have the power of schmooze, how come I keep paying out of pocket for industry talent like that?) Nice work…and au courant, even got Onslaught and the iPhone in there!

As for my own CSM evening highlights?

Hands-down, I’m thrilled to see pioneering AMLA media literacy guru Dr. Renee Hobbs of Temple University scoop up the Outstanding Media Educator award, for her well-deserved efforts on MyPopStudio, and multiple Media Education Lab projects.

It’s been an honor to connect with her since we first met in L.A. at the Mind on the Media’s TBIO summit a couple of years back, when Geena Davis was the TBIO keynote speaking to teens about the Dads & Daughters’ See Jane gender equity research. The Sisterhood of the Travelin’ Pants movie was still pre-launch, and the room was abuzz about Hollywood’s media imagery and girls.

Renee Hobbs and I ended up yacking our fool heads off on the bus en route to the stage lot for Disney or That’s So Raven or some such thing…and she gave me my first inspiration of solid encouragement that I was not nuts for trying to ‘mashup’ a consortium of industry insiders, parents, academics, child advocates and biz folks, all sharing the commonality of concern for kids, and media messages shifting to a more positive, meaningful track…

Anyway, we had a mini-reunion at the CSM event last night, and amidst hugs and kudos and her kind words about our Shaping Youth ventures, I was amazed that even with her jam-packed slate, she doesn’t miss a beat…She managed to catch my internet razz on Adrants for the way they covered her speaking engagement as keynote at the YPulse tween mashup that I wish I could’ve attended in New York.

Just when you think you’re shouting into an echo chamber, turns out someone of Renee’s caliber of excellence is not only appreciative, but following your work! It’s what keeps all of us “passionistas” in high rev mode…(that would be high rev energy not dollars!) So thanks, Renee, for ‘refueling my tank’ of dedication…

Last but not least, FCC Commissioner Debbie Taylor Tate received the “Outstanding Public Leadership” award, speaking “as a mom, a public servant who cares about kids, and an appointee confirmed by the Senate to protect the “nation’s greatest resource, our children’s minds, by making a difference through internet safety, childhood obesity, supporting producers, writers, and backers of positive programming.”

Interesting that other thoughts abound on the FCC’s role, like this LATimes opinion piece called, “The FCC’s not our mommy and daddy.” She eloquently bridged the concept of empowering parents to put media producers in the hot seat while supporting those passionate and motivated to instigate change…

“We all want the same things, it’s how we get there.”

I dunno. Do we really? In theory, that’s the case…pragmatically? Not so sure.

Dollars drive choices in media, ratings AND retail…So I’m not sure we all really DO want the same things when it comes to children…Thus the tug-o-war for the hearts and minds of our own offspring.

As the evening came to a close, kudos were lauded upon CSM’s Jim Steyer, (author of The Other Parent,) for injecting common sense and decency, turning vision into enterprise and creating an ethical compass where parents once again become the most important influence in kids lives over media. They’ve come a long way in four short years!

So thanks, gang, for a shared evening and shared vision…Of sanity without censorship, and using good ol’ Common Sense. Proud to be a part of it…



  1. Talk about support for a non-profit doing good things–I was very impressed with the Common Sense Media Awards Celebration…The room was packed, celebrity types on hand, and just a genuine passion for making the world a better place. (And the opening video pronouncing media’s heavy impact on our kids was very stimulating!)

    As a new friend and ally to sharp media analysts (like Amy, who invited me to pal around with her at the awards event last night), I am swooped up in the Common Sense enthusiasm of informing kids and families about good choices in the media. We’re pushing forward at Girls Are Champions (with GACtv) to create positive media for girls –empowering them through sports and active lifestyles–(I would love to get an “Onnie” some day–only for the reason that the “Onnie” is a confirmation that we’d be doing something powerful and positive in the media for kids…Hey, we can dream!)

    I also have to say it was icing on the cake to meet Dr. Renee Hobbs. What fantastic energy she has! And learning she is a pioneer in the business and highly-respected media educator, well, that’s just inspirational and motivating. Very cool.

    So for all you readers, send a mental round of applause for all those people who are media educators and media warriors, including Amy who’s spit and fight for the truth in media is invaluable. Each of us can live on purpose. For me, I realize media is pretty powerful stuff…With enough conviction, we CAN make the world a better place! 🙂

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