BISHOP SLAMS 'DISNEY CONSUMERISM'
Tuesday July 23, 2002
LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - The hot favorite to become the next spiritual head of the Church of England launched a blistering attack against the consumer society on Tuesday, saying it corrupted the young and made them prematurely sexually aware.
Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co, child talent shows and computer games came under particularly heavy fire from Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Wales and favorite to be named this week as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans.
A government source said this week news on the appointment of the new archbishop -- the subject of intense religious debate and media speculation in the last few months -- would come before Parliament breaks for summer recess on Wednesday.
In a book serialized in the London Times newspaper this week, Williams hit out at children's talent shows and electronic games, which he says typify modern society's unashamed perception of the young as merely another type of consumer.
"Anything but innocuous is the conscription of children into fetishistic hysteria of style wars," Williams wrote.
"It is still mercifully rare to murder for a pair of trainers, or to commit suicide because of an inability to keep up with peer group fashion; but what can we say about a marketing culture that so openly feeds and colludes with obsession?"
"The Disney empire has developed this to an unprecedented degree of professionalism," he said.
He also argues that the growing trend towards talent and beauty shows for youngsters puts pressure on children to become sexual objects at too early an age.
Born in Wales in 1950, Williams became Oxford University's youngest theology professor at 36, was enthroned as Bishop of Monmouth in 1992 and elected Archbishop of Wales in 2000.
A talented linguist, he would become the first Archbishop of Canterbury from outside England since the church's 16th century breakaway from Rome.
Liberals in the church have backed Williams, a well-known fan of U.S. cartoon satire 'The Simpsons', while traditionalists have railed against his tolerance of homosexual clergy.
Besides his attack on consumer society, Williams is likely to create further waves with his support of women bishops, his open criticism of the Afghanistan conflict and his dismissal of any plans for a U.S. invasion of Iraq as immoral.