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Miscellaneous - Censorship and Music

  by Jon Rogers

published: 3 / 3 / 2010

Miscellaneous - Censorship and Music


In his 'Hitting the Right Note' column Jon Rogers looks at a recent Home Office report to curb the showing of sexually suggestive videos before 9 p.m. and asks what implications of this will watershed will be

A Home Office report on the sexualisation of children has recommended that music videos featuring sexual poses and/or sexually suggestive lyrics should not air before the 9pm watershed. The review which investigated the growing sexualisation of young people also advocated restricting the sale of “lads mags” to over 15s and local councils vet billboard advertising to make sure they do not cause offence on gender grounds. Dr Linda Papadopoulos, from London Metropolitan University, who carried out the research argued strongly for curbs to be put in place to stop “increasing pornification” and “mainstreaming of the sex industry”. The report hasn’t fallen on deaf ears either as the home secretary Alan Johnson has welcomed the report stating: "Changing attitudes will take time but it is essential if we are going to stop the sexualisation which contributes to violence against women and girls." On the face of it, very worthy work as no parent wants to see their children copy their “bootylicious” pop idols, imitating their dance moves “shakin’ that ass” and wearing rather revealing clothing. Well, unless you’re Katie Price that is, but that’s another story. But there are a number of problems with the proposals. The most obvious one is this thing called the internet. It’s all very well stopping MTV airing some video by N-Dubz, 50 Cent or Nelly for its dodgy, misogynist images objectifying women but anyone can go on line and watch the whole thing within minutes at any time day or night. And where is the line to be drawn over what is acceptable for our children to watch or not? Most people would probably agree that songs like Niggers with Attitude’s 'Find ‘Em, Fuck ‘Em and Flee' or 'She Swallowed It' (oddly not about a young lady having a sip of Coca-Cola) would rightly be restricted. And what about those pop and R ‘n’ B divas wearing skimpy outfits and dancing provocatively? Sounds to me like they’d be restricted too. And what about that little pop pixie Kylie Minogue, strutting her stuff in a pair of tight, gold hot pants? More debatable is perhaps the video for 'Can’t Get You Out of My Head' where her outfit is low cut, and split almost up to her hip. Nothing is remotely revealed but it is hinted at. I wonder what side of the fence that would fall on. When does showing a bit of leg become a bit too much? And what of the crazy fashion sense of Lady GaGa where sometimes it seems she’s just forgotten to put on any clothes at all. And if all music with a sexually suggestive lyric was banned before 9 p.m. then any music radio station might as well shut down before 9 p.m. or have Cliff Richard on heavy rotation. Rock ‘n’ roll and sex are, largely, inextricably linked. Even the term rock ‘n’ roll, according to some musicologists, is an euphemism for the sexual act itself. And better ban all those old blues singers like Bessie Smith. Not with all those references to “jelly roll” and putting sugar in her bowl (ahem). And things are no better with our current crop of pop starlets. Whatever can Girls Aloud be going on about in 'Love Machine'? I am sure similar sentiments can be found in the lyrics of the songs by the Saturdays if I can ever be bothered to listen to them. In theory this report has my backing and the more extreme examples certainly do leave a nasty taste in my mouth. But there is the danger of ushering in a new puritanical era of censorship where some government body pours over every music video or lyric for traces of sexually suggestive material – and if there’s just a bit more cleavage on display than the regulations allow its relegated to the 9pm watershed. And while the sentiment of the plans can be applauded there might be more to the question of the sexualisation of children. The philosophy of “girl power” as expounded by the likes of the Spice Girls and others seems to be little more than empty rhetoric about ‘empowering’ women to use their sexuality to get what they want. I’m sure the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft would be delighted where feminism has found itself in 2010. It is, as Lenny Bruce would see it, all “Las Vegas tits ‘n’ ass”. It’s not just music or advertising national daily newspapers make a feature of their 'Page 3' girls and where young women have dreams of being a lap dancer or bag themselves a footballer as a boyfriend and become a WAG. Nice to see they have such high aspirations. And if you are a celebrity it doesn’t seem to do you much harm if you have a nice little X-rated sex tape that you can, ooh, whoops, put on the internet. Hasn’t done Paris Hilton or Britney Spears (if it is her) any harm. And if you can’t face making a sex tape then you can always go out without any underwear on and accidentally flash the waiting paps. And what about everytime there a lingerie ad campaign where some model or celebrity is posing in not a lot, should that be banned too. So c’mon Alan Johnson if you are truly concerned about doing something then you need to crackdown on a whole host of other areas too and not just pick on a few obvious targets like music and some dodgy adverts, although they do have their role to play. The thing is once you start down that road things can quickly escalate and we could be about to be entering a new Puritanism. Then again there are some benefits with the watershed ban that might very well mean that the likes of Lily Allen gets played less often on the radio. That surely can’t be a bad thing

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