Friday, 10 June 2011

Why David Cameron is the new Tipper Gore...

Amongst all the recent furore about the Government's clampdown on the sexualisation of young children (like who is going to disagree with that?!) few noticed the proposal to apply age restrictions to music videos. Reg Bailey of the Mother's Union (anyone denote the irony in that? A man fronting an organisation called Mother's union) claims that the Government should 'consult as a matter of priority on whether music videos should continue to be treated differently from other genres,.'

This proposal worries me on all sorts of levels and it is my strong suspicion that this is censorship via the back door. As a teenager during the 1980's I remember well the ridiculous posturing of Tipper Gore and the PMRC and their witch hunt against stars of heavy metal and hip hop - claiming that Judas Priest were inciting suicide, 2-Live Crew rape and Ozzy Osbourne satanism. Looking back now, these claims seem ridiculous and I think in years to come people will say the same about the likes of Rhianna and Nelly being seen to promote underage sex.

There are numerous reasons that this thinking is misguided. Firstly, by putting age restrictions on these videos you aren't necessarily going to stop young people seeing them. Far more effective would be a proposal to educate parents not to expose their children to sexualised imagery. Secondly, by making these videos restricted you are only going to increase the desire of young people to see them. Who hasn't got a story to tell about a time when they were a teenager trying to see an 18 movie? Thirdly, everyone has a different view about what is morally acceptable. Is Rhianna's crotch waving any more offensive than Eminem's aggression or Aphex Twin's disturbing imagery? As soon as you introduce a ratings system these decisions have to be made and its a moral minefield - someone also has to take on the role of regulator. Fourth, it will hit the record industry (already under the cosh) as mainstream stores refuse to stock particular product because its deemed offensive (see how Walmart have applied such policies in their stores in the USA).  Finally, its a slippery slope - once such restrictions are introduced the possibility of outright bans are so much more likely.

The reality is that the best judges of the impact of these videos are young people themselves. Its only a matter of time before the hip hop video of champagne, beamers and hos will become depressingly formalistic (if it hasn't already) and at that point youth culture will simply move onto a new genre or look that seems more engaging and exciting. Until then we are probably stuck with this nonsense but, in my opinion, its everyone's right to watch what they want to and if parents want to keep this material away from their kids then they should do just that - legislating against it simply won't help.

No comments:

Post a Comment