Sunday, November 10, 2013

Are Pop Stars Too Sexy For Our Kids?

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus performs during the iHeartRadio music festival at the MGM Grand

This Is A Fleshy, Naked Emergency – Pop Stars Are Too Sexy For Our Kids

Singers such as Miley Cyrus have left Netmums parents up in arms about sexualisation. I have a simple solution to the problem.

The parenting website Netmums has polled its members and found that more than 80% of respondents have seen their children sing or repeat sexual lyrics without realising their meaning. A third also said their child had copied the overtly provocative dance moves they had seen pop stars perform. As someone who appreciates the comedic moment in which a child swears unknowingly in front of an assembled audience of elders as unparalleled in its hilarity, I'm tempted to welcome this result. A younger cousin of mine once asked my dad, in front of everyone, if he "liked it hard and rough or smooth and tender", something he must have got from the media, and I still have to take deep breaths when I think about it a decade laterBut I realise that for most people, the results of what the Daily Mail calls a "disturbing survey" means we are now living at the end of times.

That's not to say that pop stars haven't become too sexy. They have. They're so sexy, in fact, that Britney Spears has been reported as longing for the days when, rather than having to troupe around in thigh-high boots, a metallic bikini and fishnets, she could keep it real like she did in that video for Baby One More Time, which was "about the dance" and nothing at all to do with indulging the older male generation's filthiest schoolgirl fantasies. But at least Britney kept her clothes on. Nowadays you don't exist unless you're maniacally twerking while dry-humping yourself with a foam hand left over from the last time they tried to revive Gladiators. Quick! Get them some of those metallic blankets that they give you when the swimming pool has to be evacuated. Or at least a cardigan. This is a fleshy, naked emergency.

While the sexualisation of female pop stars is an ongoing saga which will, much like the women who dressed up on Halloween as a naked person, reach its logical zenith any day now, we must take account of the fact that all this scaremongering wholly buys into the "devil's music" narrative of pop being damaging to young people, and, in that sense, this generation is no different to those previous. While my disco-dancing ditty of choice, Destiny's Child's Bootylicious, may be tame by today's standards (and if the thought of a 12-year-old belting out "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" fills you with horror, take comfort in the fact that I thought they were referencing an intolerance to the E-numbers in Rowntree's), back then the big worry was nu-metal and goth music, a genre which disturbed my school so much that they sent a letter home to school asking that parents not allow their children to wear hooded tops bearing slogans such as "deviant" and "Cradle of Filth". I'd like to see Miley Cyrus take on Mortiis, I really would.

In other words, music has always been held to be a corrupting influence on young people and a threat to the establishment, and it's important that we bear that in mind when we're questioning whether it has now gone too far, as 87% of Netmum parents polled believe it has. And let's not forget, it's not just the girls, either. A quarter of parents said that boys thought women wanted men to be "into violence and gangsta culture" – presumably they are just as impressionable as young girls, and are thus taking it upon themselves to rub up against those "bitches and hos" in the playground à la Robin Thicke. They certainly seem to be expecting women to have the kind of bodies that rarely exist in real life.

The solution to the problem is simple: don't let them watch music videos. I didn't know these oiled-up sex robots and their pimping boyfriends even existed until that joyous two-year period when my mum got Sky. And if you must let them watch music videos, while I fully accept they have become much, much worse and are practically porn now, perhaps use it as a chance to discuss what's happening with them in a non-judgmental way? Siobhan Freegard, a founder of Netmums, said in reference to the survey: "It's toxic to tell young kids that casual sex and violence are something to aspire to," and she's not wrong about the violence. But the fact she places it hand in hand with casual sex in terms of toxicity reveals more about our society than Miley and Robin's frottage ever could. — Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett | The Guardian

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