Alissa Quart (born 1972) is an American nonfiction writer, critic, journalist, editor, and poet. Her nonfiction books are Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels (2013), Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child (2007), and Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers (2003), her poetry, Monetized (2015).
She was an editor at large for The Atavist, an award-winning nonfiction iPad and enhanced ebook publisher: Her multimedia story with Maisie Crow, “The Last Clinic” was nominated for a National Magazine Award and a Documentary Emmy in 2014. She is editor-in-chief of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, founded by Barbara Ehrenreich. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times Sunday Review, The Nation, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and Marie Claire, and she has appeared on Nightline, 20/20, the Today Show, CNN, CBC, and C-Span. She coined the term hyperlink cinema in 2005 and popularized the term hipster sexism.
She teaches as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and is a 2010 Nieman Fellowship recipient.
In 2003 she published Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers which illustrates and criticizes the way that corporations chase teenagers and pre-teens. From the annual Advertising & Promotion to Kids Conference to affiliate programs by catalog retailers such as Delia’s that have teenagers advise their friends on what is desirable to Disney and McDonald’s holding focus groups in high schools, Quart shows how companies have become increasingly sophisticated in hooking youngsters into a world of extreme consumerism that is ultimately harmful to them socially and developmentally. She points out that companies trap these impressionable individuals “into a cycle of labor and shopping” with “brands “aim[ing] to register so strongly in kids’ minds that the appeal will remain for life.”
The book received generally favorable reviews. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review calling it a “substantive follow-up to Naomi Klein’s No Logo”. It received consistent praise for its analysis from other sources such as the New York Times, The Nation, and the book industry monthly Bookpage. The work received criticism for its proposed solutions which the New York Times’s William Holstein described as laying the responsibility on corporations instead of parents, unrealistically advocating for homeschooling, and suggest[ing] teenagers involve themselves in DIY activities such as starting their own music group which he sniffed “doesn’t strike this parent as the ideal path.”
Branded has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Finnish.
Image By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Alexandra Daddario) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons