The exposure children have to sexualised and explicit images in modern life has been a growing concern for critics and parents for years. This issue has been brought to public attention again in recent months with particular focus on the music industry setting a bad example to young fans. It has previously been suggested that musicians should follow more guidlines when creating music videos to ensure they are appropriate for all age groups but industry insiders protested feeling they were being singled out against other more neglegent media outlets.
A cover of Nicki Minaj’s hit song ‘Super Bass’ by 8-year-old Sophia Grace Brownlee and her cousin Rosie Grace, which became a Youtube sensation receiving over 17 million views, has raised some eyebrows due to the erotic lyrics the youngsters mimic. Dressed in pink and sparkly princess outfits the girls extend their homage to Nicki whose signature style elaborates on the girly, playful stereotype. In contrast the adult themes explored in ‘Super Bass’ combined with explicit lines and strong language don’t exactly classify the song as acceptable children’s entertainment.
During an interview on the Lorraine Kelly show Sophia Grace’s dad denied accusations the song lyrics could have any negative impact on his daughter’s childhood or development stating he limited Sophia’s exposure to the ‘clean’ version of the song.
Rihanna has also been under the microscope this week following the release of her new song with Calvin Harris ‘We Found Love’. The R’n'B star’s racy music has been the source of increasing controversy for a while and her latest album ‘People Gun’ has shown no signs of her becoming shy and retiring anytime soon.
Rihanna recently retweeted a comment posted by a fan on Twitter in response to the negative reaction some of her work has received: “So man down promotes murder S&M promotes sex and WFL (we found love) unbelievably promotes ‘rape’ hence your album title ppl gun…idiots”. She also tweeted herself about the claims her new track glorifies sexual assault: “haaaaaaa RAPE??? Of all things??? Ppl gone #TALKthatTALK whether u doing bad or good!!!”.
And people did talk when it came to Sophia Grace’s talent on the Youtube clip, of all the thousands of comments written on the site you will be hard pushed to find a negative one. It seems the public have looked passed the possible cause for concern of the youngster’s innocence and cannot speak more highly of her immense natural talent and their excitement to see how she develops into an inspirational woman.
There’s no denying or escaping the fact music, media and advertising companies are using sex and shock tactics to sell more than ever, but whose responsibility is it to filter these images from the young and vulnerable? The stars themselves don’t seem to think they should have to edit their music to be more appropriate for younger audiences, as Rihanna also strongly protested earlier in the year when her song ‘S&M’ was censored on some radio stations.
However, parents and critic’s outcries that modern music is ruining the minds of the youth is nothing new for our generation. If you look back at the sexed up vocals of the Rolling Stones in the 70’s or Elvis Presley’s jaw dropping gyrations in the 50’s you’ll see there’s always been concern about pop-stars causing corruption through their means of self-expression.
Does music promote corruption or is it just a sign of the times? It’s unfair to blame the music industry for increases in social disorder or even crime; it seems so far-fetched that such topics could be linked other than as artists documenting their experiences and views of the modern world, like D H Lawrence when he wrote ‘Women in Love’ that resulted in the novel being banned from public reading in 1920.
To keep children away from every upsetting, shocking or thought provoking experience would have as detrimental effect on society as no restraints or protection at all. I feel quite confident that I will be able to relax in my rocking chair while the next generation of leaders, workers and parents make and learn from their own mistakes while running the world and won’t cut my pension to pay for compulsory lap dancing classes in primary schools.