Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pop Tarts

No, not the sort that you put in the toaster that spring up warm and jammy in the middle. The sort who strut their increasingly uncovered stuff on stages and screens while pouting at and singing to the camera/ audience.

Normally on this blog I don't venture into serious topics too often, preferring to keep things light and amusing, but I have decided to veer off topic today and write about something which as a mother is increasingly concerning me.

I would really like your feedback at the end.

Last week I read about an open letter the Irish singer Sinead O'Connor wrote to a young American singer called Miley Cyrus, who has achieved dubious international attention after a provocative performance at a televised American awards ceremony where she gyrated with a male performer dressed only in a nude-coloured bra and pants (her, not the bloke).

Sinead's point was this: that young women who perform explicit routines of this nature wearing next to nothing are not (as they may like to consider themselves) liberated and in control, but instead are pawns manipulated by record industry bosses who subscribe to the view that sex sells more than musical ability does.

I watched the performance that kicked all of this off on you tube and afterwards found myself wondering how we have got to a point where something as sexually explicit as this is considered suitable material to be performed on a mainstream stage in front of children.

The girl involved clearly thinks she has done nothing wrong, that dancing like this in her knickers in front of millions is normal. The TV executives evidently feel they have done nothing wrong in promoting the routine by facilitating its broadcast round the world. The (older) male singer she performed with clearly didn't think there was anything wrong with it judging from the way he followed her around the stage, and undoubtedly there were those in the crowd watching who found the whole thing thrilling too.

Me? I found it distasteful, tawdry and depressing. It's not all that long ago that women fought to get the vote in this country, to stop being viewed largely as a female body that was good for little more than home-making and breeding children. They fought for the right to have their voices and opinions heard, and to witness a teenager with a legion of fans (many of them doubtless young girls) translate this into donning a bra and pants and writhing suggestively round an older man while a crowd watched, whistled and screamed was depressing.

As a mother I disliked it intensely. Increasingly it seems this kind of rubbish is being presented and peddled to our children as "normal." Last week Annie Lennox gave an interview in which she denounced the growing trend for pop videos to be little more than porn. A comment left at the end of the piece mentioned scientific studies of the developing brain which demonstrate chemical changes in the brains of children who have been exposed to these kinds of images from a young age. They were not healthy or positive changes, and that is bad news for all of us.

I don't want my boys watching this kind of very explicit stuff at twelve and fourteen. I don't want them growing up with unrealistic images or expectations of what women are and how men relate to them because the pop industry thinks it's ok to serve up a young girl in her underwear and film her gyrating round an older man. 

I feel a letter to my MP coming on.....

Let me know what you think.

CT :-)





16 comments:

  1. Goodness - how depressing. It just shows how money is more important to the people who are involved in producing/showing these performances than anything else. Good luck with writing to your MP. (I wrote to mine this week about something, too.)

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    1. Somewhere the whole value system has gone haywire. I don't object to these things being available for adults who can choose what they expose themselves too but they should not be accessible for children :-(

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  2. I, too, feel saddened by the premature sexualisation of children. Today's ten year olds seem to be the equivalent of the middle teens of, what, thirty years ago? I listen to young girls talking at school about boyfriends and getting drunk at the weekends. I hear them discussing things they are too young to handle, and indeed, why should they? They are children. And more and more boys, thanks to access to video games like Grand Theft Auto where women are portrayed as pneumatic prostitutes, are talking about girls as objects in the kind of language that quite frankly makes me shudder.

    I have seen the Miley Cyrus video, and shame on her. I truly think some of these so called 'role models' have no idea how their actions affect impressionable youngsters. TV companies should be regulated, should be made to understand their moral obligations. The nine o'clock watershed is no longer relevant given most children have television access in their rooms, or on their phones and laptops.

    Oh, I could go on and on. But I fear whatever is done by those who are supposed to be in charge will be too little too late. And those of us who voice concern will be regarded as old-fashioned prudes. Maybe we should start a nationwide campaign?

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    1. Can't bear Grand Theft Auto - it is one of a handful of games we have put an embargo on in the house.

      Excellent point about not understanding the responsibilities that come with being a role model- such an opportunity to do so much good wasted. She is clearly too young/ lacking in proper understanding to be a role model in that regard.

      Agree too about the watershed- the advent of freeview recorders and the internet in its current form has changed all of that.

      The idea of a Nationwide campaign is a great one- I suspect there are many people who share these sentiments. I have now written to our MP asking what can be done. I feel v strongly about it. Fine if adults want to access this kind of stuff, but let's keep our kid's lives free of it until they are old enough to make sensible choices for themselves (and have had the opportunity to form relationships with boys and girls that aren't tainted by this rubbish).

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  3. If you are truly talented and believe in yourself and your abilities you don't need to do this, however we all know that sex sells. I agree with you that this is not suitable and gives totally the wrong impression to both boys and girls.
    The soaps are just as bad, no one is faithful.
    I wonder what goes on in the minds of youngsters when they look at this kind of material. Respect is the word that comes to me, as there is none! Miss MC has none for her own kind and is stupid enough not to understand her actions, she is not alone in her behaviour sadly.

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    1. As you say TV shows, perfume adverts, clothing adverts, even some of the outfits and routines on Strictly are a bit near the knuckle. Child protection is such a hot issue and yet so far the powers that be have failed utterly to keep up with this stuff being poured out on TV and in magazines in high street stores. It's insidious and it is time it was checked.
      Teenagers need to explore and let loose, which is fine when that happens with each other and in private, but I really can't stand it happening on mainstream channels which are watched by pre-teens and everyone behaves as if it's perfectly normal for them to see it. Enough is enough.

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  4. I haven't seen the video but can't help thinking this is but the tip of the iceberg, given what can be accessed on the internet these days. And, apparently, what gets communicated via texting on mobile phones. The innocence of childhood is, sadly, long gone.

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    1. It's time the laws caught up with the huge explosion in technology over recent years. We changed internet provider to Talk Talk in September because the boys had accessed some pretty nasty stuff on line, despite us having all the safety switches on on their computers. Talk Talk allows you to switch it off at source so nothing to do with porn, drugs, alcohol, gambling, self harm etc comes into the house, this includes wifi so at home at least their mobiles are also free of it. The real problem is that kids are curious without knowing (and why should they) the kind of hideous and harming filth that exists. In many ways our children are the guinea pigs for the internet and that is not a comfortable place to be.

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  5. A difficult and troubling issue and as one of your earlier correspondents has already written it is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg what with the internet and social media :-( Having experience with the glamour side of photography I am perhaps not in a position to moralise too much (at least in some peoples eyes), though I do think there is a huge difference between artistic glamour portraiture and the sort of sexualised & near pornographic peformances which you describe. For those of us with young children it is hard to keep them away from this kind of 'entertainment' though I have my doubts whether censorship and governmental interference is the answer !

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    1. I don't think there is anything wrong with teens wanting to look at naked bodies, it's a natural part of their development. There is as we all know a huge difference between a naked body and porn, to the extent that if you search for "naked women" you get all kinds of pretty nasty stuff coming back at you- things kids would not begin to understand or expect. M had to search for "enhancements" at work for a paper he was writing to do with mapping, and you can imagine the sites that popped up. It is everywhere and while I don't agree with censorship as a point of principle, something needs to be put in place to protect kids. An opt in button/ service to allow adults to see things but prevent children from doing so would be a good place to start.

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  6. I totally agree with what you say CT. I find the celebrity obsessed culture we seem to live in these days totally depressing. There is so much pressure on teenagers these days which can lead to all sorts of problems as I know from personal experience. I haven't seen the video but am quite sure I would be horrified. As a mother you don't want your children accessing this type of thing and thinking its normal. Would be interested to hear the response you get from your MP.

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    1. I asked J (18) what she and her friends thought of this girl's performance and she said they all found it sad and embarrassing, which is a start I suppose. The boys haven't seen it and I don't want them to- they are too young to contextualise and that is the crux of the problem I think. L has a number of female friends, his sister, and both his cousins are are girls too so he is surrounded by normality there, but I worry about the message mainstream culture puts out and appears to support nevertheless. Celebrity is utterly vacuous and yet it's worshipped like a religion. We've lost touch with something really important somewhere. Surely if enough people feel this way something can be done to put the brakes on it?

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  7. I'm not going to say much other than I completely agree with EVERYTHING you said. My son is extremely innocent for a nine year old but I found him and his friend pelvic thrusting on the trampoline, not getting what they were doing at all. Very depressing. On a happier note, my email address is emparko@gmail.com. x

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    1. It just makes you so mad doesn't it? I know when L accessed some pretty grotty stuff on line earlier this year I felt sick and furious at the same time. It's EXTREMELY aggravating that the idiots that pedal this kind of rubbish can reach your child despite your best efforts to protect them. Hopefully this silly girl has now tipped the balance too far and the momentum is growing so that people who are fed up with it will speak out and then change will come.

      Thanks for email- will try and sort pics for you tomorrow x

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  8. I just used good old wiki to find out how old she is... 20. I haven't seen the video but from your description, it sounds pretty demeaning. I wonder if she knows the impact it will have on children just a few years younger than her. Very sad indeed that she feels she cannot get where she wants to be in life without prancing around in her underwear. I'm not a celeb fan... I just don't get what people find so fascinating about them - they are just ordinary people after all.

    I would join your campaign if you started one :)

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    1. The really tragic part is you just know at some point down the line she will regret it bitterly. What I want to know is where are her friends and parents in all this? Surely they can't be happy about seeing their daughter head so stridently towards an unhealthy melt down. The cult of celebrity is largely built on ephemeral ground it seems to me. Thank goodness we have the countryside and all its wonderful plants and animals to keep up grounded Lou :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x