Nuts, Rihanna and Playboy
- actively stopping you from raising your kids to
think sex is dirty, shameful and for procreation only
the 'report' by Reg Bailey into sexualisation is upon
us, and details have been leaked all weekend. Bailey,
you might recall, is the head of the Mother's Union
(a position that makes more sense if you accept the
blaxploitation use of 'mother' as its meaning), a
Christian organisation that had already complained
about our allegedly increasing culture of sexualisation
- so the conclusions of his report are hardly a surprise.
It'd be rather like getting Life to look into whether
or not abortion should be legal.
Bailey's report - which would seem to be based not
on expert analysis, research and facts but rather
on supposition and opinion - makes for depressing
reading if you believe in freedom of expression. Using
the spectre of children being corrupted (which no-one
wants) and 'forced to grow up too early' (which is
actually a meaningless phrase), Bailey suggests -
no, demands - a swathe of new rules and regulations.
His least contentious call is for a ban on high street
shops selling inappropriate clothing aimed at kids.
You know, padded training bras, thongs for five year
olds, children's T-shirts with 'Porn Star' logos.
On the surface, this seems sensible enough - except
that all these cases have been shown to be freak occurrences
that were rapidly pulled from sale anyway rather than
the high street norm. And while we might all agree
that such clothing is inappropriate, it doesn't magically
appear in kids wardrobes - someone has to buy it for
them. If you don't approve of such things - don't
buy them for your kid, even if they are pestering
for them. Show some control over your brats. And quite
honestly, does this stuff really do any harm?
Does anyone really think that wearing a Playboy
Bunny branded T-shirt is the first step to a life
of vice? Or is it more likely that this stems from
a fear that teenagers might be growing up to have
a more relaxed attitude towards adult entertainment
than the moralisers approve of?
Bailey also wants OFCOM to tighten up their rules,
because of course the pre-watershed TV schedules are
just dripping with porn. Music videos, of course,
are his prime target - singers and backing dancers
wearing clothes he doesn't approve of dancing sexily.
It's likely that most kids won't see anything 'sexy'
in the dancing or the lyrics, but no matter - it's
embarrassing for prudish parents who can't remember
doing the same thing to Madonna's Like a Virgin,
so it must be stopped.
Bailey also demands music videos have age-ratings.
It's hard to figure out what he means here - his lack
of knowledge of the law and existing regulation causing
him to get muddled. If he's talking about home video
- well, they already are rated. Sure, there's an exemption
for music videos from certification, but only if they
have no sexual content. And if he means on TV - well,
isn't that what the watershed is for? If Bailey thinks
the average booty shakin' hip hop video or bumping,
grinding RnB promo will be rated 18 by any existing
censorship board, he's living in a dreamworld. So
presumably he thinks we need a new ratings board that
will apply the tastes of sexless religious nutters
According to the Daily Mail (for
who this report is a gift from God) Bailey "demands
a return to the days when parents could be confident
that programmes broadcast before 9pm would be suitable
for the whole family." When was that? The
1970's or the 1980's, when nudity was much more commonplace
in daytime schedules? The Mail continues
to claim that "the report accuses broadcasters
of actively working against parents by peddling sexual
content. 'Some parents even questioned whether the
watershed still exists.'" Yeah, that's some
dispassionate, unbiased reporting there Reg. Mary
Whitehouse couldn't have written better.
Bailey's answer to this is to say that TV regulations
should be slanted towards the opinions of parents,
rather than viewers as a whole - so you childless
heathens can fuck right off, cos no-one cares about
you. And who will these parents that OFCOM and others
have to consult be? Will every parent in the land
be consulted? Or will it just be the likes of the
Mother's Union and Mumsnet? I think we can guess the
answer to that.
And there's more...
Bailey wants all computers to be sold with internet
porn pre-blocked. So if you, as an adult, buy a new
laptop or PC, you'll have to ask your supplier to
unblock it for you - because it's apparently too much
work for parents - presumably too busy consulting
with OFCOM - to request a block or use simply blocking
software. Of course, it's hard to see how this will
work at equipment level - more likely the idiots at
the Mail misunderstood and Bailey in fact wants porn
blocked by ISPs. Welcome to Australia... welcome to
report wants lad's mags like Zoo
and Nuts hidden behind boards or
sold in plain wrappers. Because obviously a photo
of a woman in her underwear will corrupt kids. No
matter that magazines use covers as a way of selling
themselves to potential readers, as well as being
covered by both the Indecent Displays Act and the
rules imposed by major retailers - these publications
will presumably be cheerfully forced out of business
in order to prevent middle class parents from potential
embarrassment in Tesco as their kids stare, zombie-like,
at the covers. 'Sexy' advertisements will be banned
- lingerie ads being just too exploitative, and any
sort of skimpy, tight-fitting or otherwise seductive
clothing will presumably also be banned - I imagine
Bailey is in sympathy with the Muslim extremists who
deface women's fashion posters. And he's advocating
yet another complainer's charter, with a body where
the easily, professionally upset can report anything
they don't like.
The only thing missing so far is the previously trailed
ban on pre-watershed gay kissing. When this was leaked
a few weeks ago, it caused predictable and righteous
outrage, and it was clearly something that the government
would find difficult to support - so it's possible
that this homophobic element of the report has been
either dropped or quietly buried away. However, it's
original inclusion - or even the fact that it was
being considered - tells us everything we need to
know about the report, its author and its intentions.
Let's be honest - this is not about protecting children.
They are an excuse to block, ban and remove anything
that easily upset middle class parents find embarrassing
or that the unholy alliance of left wing feminists
and right wing moralisers find offensive. By hiding
behind the protection of children, they are deflecting
most criticism. But don't think this will be the end
of it. Allow this, and soon we'll have to stop shops
selling 18 rated videos in case kids get to see them;
close down sex shops and strip clubs in case kids
walk past them; ban post-watershed nudity in case
kids stay up late. Ban foreign travel in case kids
go to the beach and see a topless woman. It sounds
ridiculous, but it's the logical extreme.
Depressingly but predictably, the government seem
willing to listen to this crap. Bailey, like a Grand
Censor who will decide for all of us what we can and
cannot see, has decreed that the assorted industries
have 18 months to 'clean up their act' or legislation
will follow. We can only hope that once the dust has
settled and the government start talking to more sensible
people - as well as realising the difficulties in
legislating on so many nebulous taste issues - that
the more ridiculous, hysterical, censorial and moralising
elements of this report - that is to say, all of it
- are watered down or cast aside.
But I fear the worst...
published at Calm