Greg Beato, of Soundbitten renown, has an interesting review of Alissa Quart's Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers and Justin Watson's The Martyrs of Columbine: Faith and the Politics of Tragedy in The Washington Post's Bookworld. He concludes that Quart's by-the-numbers attack on marketing to kids fails to account for the kids' agency:
A marketer might be interested in developing a peer-to-peer network of Backstreet Boys fans solely for the purpose of selling more Backstreet Boys albums, but the teens who actually create such a network have the power to imbue it with whatever meaning they like.
This crucial insight into cultural consumption is all too often ignored by both left- and right-wing critics of pop culture. Albeit for different reasons, both the right and the left want to locate power, significance, and value in the hands of the few, rather than the many.