Helle Strandgaard Jensen recently graduated from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy with her PhD entitled Defining the (In)appropriate: Scandinavian debates about the role of media in children’s lives, 1950-1985. She has written a number of articles on the history of children’s media and the epistemological failures of ‘moral panic’ theory. She starts as assistant professor of Film- and Media Studies at University of Copenhagen 1 February 2014.
At the small and narrow desks in the old buildings of the Danish National Archives, it is virtually impossible to avoid peeking at your neighbors’ documents. In this way I discovered that, unlike me, most of the archives’ users come there to study their own ancestry. Personally, family history never excited me much until recently when I discovered a very peculiar kinship relation between two TV-star hand-puppets!
What I found as I went through the archive’s documents was evidence that a very popular Danish TV hand-puppet, a little chubby frog named Kaj, was made with direct inspiration from Sesame Street’s Kermit. At first I just thought it a funny fact. Lately, however, my mind keeps returning to the kinship between the two frogs and the story it relates of transnational transfers, and the tension between globally-marketed children’s media and local demands of enculturation.