In recent weeks, talk of the impact on children, of the heightened presence of sex and sexual references in the media has been a hot topic. Off the back of a report by Reg Bailey on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, voluntary regulation and an industry wide summit called by David Cameron for October, there are clear indications that many in Britain want a change with regards to the current trend in broadcasting, and the press at large.
This discussion is relevant to us as young people too. In light of new ‘artists’ such as OG Nikki and the ever present reality of sexual relations in films, adverts and especially music listened to by young people one must question whether in actual fact we are in a climate of cataclysmic decline with regards to where we’ve drawn the line of decency. We must also consider whether thousands of impressionable young people are being negatively impacted by the relaxed threshold or whether in fact the so-called ‘overtly sexual’ representations in aspects of the media today should in fact be welcomed as acceptable. Perhaps young people can be considered as having the mental capacity to differentiate between entertainment and reality; a line of argument that has been all too readily espoused by some within the debate concerning the impact of video games.
With video’s like S&M by Rihanna and Monsterby Kanye West et al receiving backlash and even facing difficulties when it came to airing on television, many adults (and numerous young people) still echo the views of the Home Office review last year to curbing the exposure of such content. It is however the reality that, the accessibility afforded through the internet makes it substantially harder to section content, age-appropriately.
Some studies have proven the negative potency that results from such ‘sexed up’ content. Can you envisage an age where music videos too, have age ratings?
Research by London Metropolitan University psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos last year, argued that the growing rampancy of sexualised images in the media was having a damaging effect on children and young people, particularly criticizing certain music artists for their tendency to ‘sexualise women or refer to them in a derogatory manner’. Her research also argued that such ‘sexually provocative music videos were far too commonplace and easily accessible by children through television; suggesting that the loophole exempting music videos from the 1984 Video Recordings Act should be closed as well as requiring broadcasters to ensure they are only shown after 9pm.’
Especially in this era of the internet where content is so accessible, perhaps the problem isn’t the sexualisation of the media but a need for changing attitudes and mindsets? Perhaps such expressions of, what can be called, ‘art’ desperately deserve a removal of taboo connotations. Clearly there are lines of decency that still exist, not many people would support near-naked, overtly obscene, profanity-filled content as accceptable to watch before watershed. With this said, perhaps if more young people were to be consulted it would become apparent that the effect of ‘sexed up’ content isn’t as tragic and corruptive as it appears from the ‘adult’ perspective.
References: Guardian Online