Can the government stop sexualisation of children?
As Rihanna herself says, ‘the music industry isn’t exactly Parents R Us’
A row over Rihanna's new music video suggests the British government faces an uphill struggle to implement proposals to clamp down on the sexualisation of children and inappropriate marketing.
Reg Bailey, the male head of the Mother's Union, has authored a report for the prime minister David Cameron into the retail, advertising and entertainment industries and how their methods are supposedly robbing youngsters of their childhood.
Parental grievances include fashion retailers sexualising children by selling adult styled clothes to 10-year-olds; some methods of advertising, such as the encouragement of 'pester power' and peer-to-peer (or more specifically, child-to-child) marketing; and sexual role play by popstars such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga in their music videos.
The Bailey review, published on Monday, has surveyed parents and found around half of them believe celebrity culture and music videos are encouraging children to act older than they are, while two-thirds have seen products such as toys, clothes and videos that they think are inappropriate for the age-range at which they are aimed.
Bailey will give the industries in question 18 months to clean up their act voluntarily under the threat of government legislation. Proposals include slapping age certificates on music videos and making it easier for parents to complain about inappropriate products and marketing.
However, if the attitude of Rihanna is symptomatic of the mood in the wider music industry, the government may have no choice but to legislate.
The popstar was criticised this week for the music video to her new song Man Down, in which she shoots a rapist dead. The Parents Television Council, an American pressure group, said the singer had given "retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability". The PTC also criticised Rihanna last week after she and Britney Spears appeared on stage in skimpy bondage gear and kissed each other.
Rihanna gave her critics short shrift, saying on Twitter: "I'm a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What's up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I'm just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!
"U can't hide your kids from society, or they'll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD!"
And in what could have been a direct swipe at the Bailey review, Rihanna continued: "The music industry isn't exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US". ·
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