Monday, 13 June 2011

Charlie Brooker on Sexualisation and the Daily Mail

"It was different in my day. Sexual imagery wasn't shoved in your face, unless you watched TV or looked at a magazine or newspaper or walked past a billboard advertising absolutely anything."

Charlie Brooker, writing in the Guardian today and saying pretty much what I've been saying here. Well worth a read.

There's also another Guardian piece exposing the Daily Mail's hypocrisy on this subject that is worth a look.

Thanks to Melon Farmers for pointing these out!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Infantilising Britain

So, 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?
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 instead.
According to the Daily Mail (for whom 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 China.
The 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. '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 extremist who defaced women's fashion posters when not plastering anti-gay stickers across Tower Hamlets. 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.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Spiked's Patrick West nails the nonsense about overtly sexual pop stars:

"There has been a moral panic about overly sexualised solo female singers ever since Britney Spears appeared in a school uniform in the video for ‘...Baby One More Time’ in 1999. The video was ideal fodder for people who believed that pop music was degenerate and will turn us all into paedophiles. After that came Beyonce shaking her booty, Gwen Stefani being rather fruity in her suggestively-titled 2004 video ‘What You Waiting For?’, Christina Aguilera doing her whore-chic, and Lady Gaga indulging in burlesque sado-masochist fantasies.

"Such performers seem to unite the conservative right and the liberal left: the former suggest that these artists encourage their young girl fans to demand bras at the age of seven, the latter that they objectify women as part of a monstrous neo-liberal capitalist conspiracy at the behest of those evil, nebulous corporations."

Read the whole article here:

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Flick Colby RIP

Calm Down Dear is saddened to hear of the death of Pan's People (and Ruby Flipper and Legs & Co) creator Flick Colby, who died on March 26th aged 65.

Read more here

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Scenes from PG-rated movies

We're regularly told that the mere sight of a naked person will traumatise and corrupt children... yet here are scenes from PG (or 'A' back in the 1970s) rated films that don't seem to have brought about the end of civilisation. Ironically, theses scenes - available for viewing by family audiences and shown on TV many times, are now often cut from daytime television broadcasts. That's progress for you!CARRY ON ENGLAND




Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sexy Covers for Unsexy Books pt. 1

The six Flash Gordon novels published in 1978 had no sexual content, and were seemingly aimed at a juvenile audience. But that didn't stop the publishers sticking a pair of boobs on the front of the the fifth volume in the series.

Stef Meeder's organ pumpers!

While much easy listening music is top quality stuff, Stef Meeder's horrendous collections of popular tune medleys, played on the Hammond organ, are as terrible as you'd expect. But these sexy covers probably helped shift a few copies.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Hot Gossip get Sleazy!

Hot Gossip appeared early evening every week at the end of the 1970's on the Kenny Everett Video Show, providing 'naughty bits' like this. Here we see them performing to The Village People's 'rock' tune Sleazy.

Films and Filming - and Flesh

Films and Filming was the serious film magazine in the 1970s - and most definitely not a top shelf publication. Could you imagine the outrage if covers like this were on display in newsagents now?

The Nipple Bra

This probably puts Playboy-branded T-shirts into perspective.