Friday, June 26, 2015

Privatizer Product Placement

Fellow blogger Steven Singer has spotted one of the more troubling trends in the current education debates.

In the Marvel Universe, he ran across two examples of privatizer ideas embedded into the fabric of shows.

In Agents of Shield, a character uses charter schooling as shorthand for loving parental care-- if you really love your kid, you put her in a charter school.

In Daredevil, a character equates the of-course-their-corrupt villainy of the teachers union with the mob and evil corporate polluters.

Check out his original post to see the particulars.

This sort of thing troubles me more than the umpty-gazillionth essay by a reformster that will be read by a small sampling of other reformsters. One of things we easily forget in these debates is that while we struggle and holler and dialogue and argue, most of the US population goes on about their business unaware that there's any problem.

Product placement in mainstream media reaches those folks, and it reaches them in an uncritical, visceral way. It's a basic rule of politics and marketing-- repeat something over and over and over and over and over again, and people will start to assume that it's just one of those things that everybody knows.

We've seen it with the idea that US public schools are failing-- everybody has heard it so many times that they simply assume that it's so.

It is possible to push back, but it takes the same dogged repetition. Reformsters stopped saying that teachers wrote the Common Core because every single time they said it, someone was there to contradict them, to hold up the truth, to challenge them for the proof they didn't have. And so they stopped saying it.

Pushing back and calling out-- that's how these battles are fought.

As Singer surmises, someone at Marvel may have been paid for a little product placement, may have been told these issues are on the corporate synergy list, or may simply be repeating something they heard. In any case, and in all cases where we find this sort of thing, the answer is to send letters, tweet, emails, whatever fits your resources.

Here's the contact information for Marvel. Let them know. Pass the word. Speak up. Every repetition counts.


  1. Thanks so much for writing this, Peter. I thought it was kind of important, too. It's nice to know we education bloggers can work together to enhance each others messages.

  2. I sent an email to their media relations guy.

  3. This is vitally important. Those who push propaganda in seemingly innocuous venues, need to have the spotlight shown upon them. They should personally take responsibility for the ideas that they push. I have contacted their media relations department and I have shared.

  4. Marvel is totally owned by Disney, which gobbled up both it and Pixar a while back. Complaints should be addressed to Bob Iger, Disney's CEO.