These kids today with their boomboxes and hula hoops…
September 25, 2008 12:44 PM   Subscribe

What are the biggest controversies/battles in elementary school these days between kids? When I was a kid, you were either a Superman kid or a Spiderman kid. A Flintstones kid or a Jetsons kid. Nerds (the candy) or Gummi Bears. What are the modern equivalents?
posted by ericc to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure how helpful this is, or how old you are... but I'm 24 and I don't recall any "battles" of that sort when I was a kid. People had things they liked or disliked but it wasn't put against each other, or to the exclusion of anything. (For example, if someone didn't like Nerds they might give you crap about eating them, but it wasn't because some other candy was vying for superiority.) Maybe it depends on the school?
posted by Nattie at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

With my inner city kids, it was either Chris Brown or Rihanna. You could not like both. I had them write poetry to their favorite celebrity and most of their letters ended up saying something like, "Chris Breezy, why u wit that bitch? She got a skanky weave. You better off with me, here is my number".

It was really charming.
posted by amicamentis at 1:10 PM on September 25, 2008 [6 favorites]

Nintendo vs. Playstation vs. Xbox?
posted by porn in the woods at 1:13 PM on September 25, 2008

With the little kids we're around it's either Pokemon vs. Yu-Gi-Oh, or Barbie vs. Bratz.
posted by jbickers at 1:28 PM on September 25, 2008

iPods vs. the bully who stole my iPod

Actually, "Nintendo vs. Playstation vs. Xbox" is a perfect answer. (Sub-rivalry: DS vs. PSP).

MySpace vs. Facebook vs. hundreds of satellite social networks

Cell phone brands & apps vs. other brands & apps.
posted by greenland at 1:29 PM on September 25, 2008

In my kids' elementary school, it's definitely a "sports" vs. "not sports" thing. No one is ever violent or anything, but the kids do divide up based on what sport they play (or don't play), at least in the upper grades (4-6). Before 4th grade, there's not much of a division at all as far as I can tell.

I'd bet you're going to get different answers based on different regions.
posted by cooker girl at 1:46 PM on September 25, 2008

Right now? I'm guessing Obama vs McCain.
posted by philip-random at 2:12 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I have no memory of these "battles" when I was a kid. Lots of kids liked Superman and Spiderman and Flintstones and Jetsons and gummi bears and nerds, and I can't think of any reason why that would have been a problem. I think this may have just been a thing at your school.
posted by decathecting at 2:13 PM on September 25, 2008

I've got kids in elementary school. The kind of thing you're describing pretty much totally does not exist that I've seen. Social groups aren't forming around brands, products, or elements of popular culture. There's very little "this vs. that" fandom, because the market these kids are exposed to is way, way bigger than when you were a kid. It's not just Flintstones and Jetsons any more; these kids have hundreds of different niche cartoons to care about. It's not Superman, Batman, and Spiderman any more. You've got those guys and the billion little Japanese import characters and game characters and Homestar Runner and everything else.

The kinds of artificially constrained kid-controversies over choice you're remembering from the past are pretty much obsolete because of the proliferation of choices, choices that were much narrower in your childhood and before.

Having recently moved into a small town exurban area, the major social divisions I see are between pop cultural conformists and non-conformists, and those cut closely along the greater divide between the pickup truck anti-intellectuals and crunchy Prius people.
posted by majick at 2:23 PM on September 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

Pokemon vs Yu-Gi-Oh -- because much like the video game examples, most kids can only afford one dumb addiction at a time.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 4:52 PM on September 25, 2008

Good question, ericc. I don't know what they are myself, but I'll bet they're just as many toy polemics as there used to be. The thing is, even a lot of kids are not aware of them, since you really have to be on a particular wavelength. I wouldn't have known some from my own childhood if I hadn't visited the right friend's house, at the right time.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 6:08 PM on September 25, 2008

Well, I'll answer this from a middle school perspective.

Rap vs. Rock
Rap vs. Emo
Rap vs. Skaters
Skinny jeans vs. Regular jeans vs. Sagging
Girls vs. Boys

Actually none of these are really clear divisions. As others have said, culture in general is much more diffuse than it was even 10 years ago.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 8:05 PM on September 25, 2008

Where I grew up, it was Carolina vs. Duke, or Carolina vs. NC State. College basketball in North Carolina is really intense. It was the first question we asked a new kid on the playground for years. "Who's your favorite ACC team?" Then people would ridicule him based on his answer. There were elaborate dissing, rhyming chants to put people on the other side down. Maybe other regions have similar sports team battles?
posted by weezetr at 8:30 PM on September 25, 2008

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Naked Brothers Band, or whoever the latest manufactured pop band is. At least with the 7-9 year old girls enrolled in our study, and we're trying to get them to watch less TV. An uphill battle when those "pop stars" are everywhere!
posted by wilky at 11:40 PM on September 25, 2008

I'd love to see a playground fight over McCain vs Obama.

If anything, I think my generation was a "GI Joe vs Transformers." I think these days it'd be something along the lines of Pokemon vs Yu-Gi-Oh vs countless other ripoffs. I wouldn't think there'd be much of a game console debate. When I had an NES, I was excited to be able to play games on a friend's Sega.

With the revival of Batman and Spider-Man (I dunno about Superman), not to mention the X-Men, Iron Man, et al, I'm sure superheroes have become a common source of playground debates once again. I don't think they can afford the comic books these days, though.

Unfortunately, I think MTV could very well be the main source of grade school conversations now, and... that kind of terrifies me...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:51 PM on September 25, 2008

G-Unit vs. D-Block?
posted by Citrus at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2008

Thanks all.

Yes, I know it isn't (and wasn't even when I was a kid) an all-consuming battle between one or the other, but there were enough kids with preference for one over the other that you could see trends.

I know it still exists today. (There are enough Hollister kids that hate A&F and A&F kids that hate Hollister that there is some cultural competition between Hollister and A&F.* But of course that's not to say no one could possible like both or none. Still, it's interesting to note what they are.)

I was asking for what those trends are today in the younger set. I like the idea, but am clueless about modern manifestations.

Thanks much to those who offered examples.

* - btw, it's a manufactured compition as Hollister and A&F are owned by the same parent company.
posted by ericc at 11:41 PM on September 26, 2008

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