Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How Pop Became Porn

Somewhere in the 80's the Minneapolis Star Tribune (or maybe it was the St. Paul Pioneer Press across the river) carried the review of a Prince concert which had been a night or two before. The reviewer described how the culmination of Prince's show involved a king-sized bed upon which he knelt, lasciviously licking his fingers and stroking the phallic neck of his guitar as he played. The erotically charged show thrilled the reviewer, who later had a chance to party with him afterwards, dancing with this sexy man who though small in stature had become a giant. (This was before he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol.)

My thoughts at the time went down the path that young people were getting the message that to be famous and big you had to break moral boundaries and go even further in your debauchery than your predecessors. To be unwilling to do so was prudish and uncool.

This memory of the Prince concert had been long buried and forgotten 'neath the cobwebs of my mind until I came to last week's article by Liz Jones in the Daily Mail, which opens this way:

The woman is naked - or looks like she is. Only a flesh-coloured leotard covers her body. Her long blonde hair tumbles down her back. She's in a cage, sliding her fingers provocatively in and out of her mouth.

A scene from a cliched pornographic film? Sadly not. The woman in question is Shakira, a pop superstar and the fourth richest singer in the world.

The images can be seen in the video for her single, She Wolf, which will be watched obsessively, again and again, by thousands of young men and women, many of whom will form the opinion that writhing in a cage is precisely the way 'sexy' women should behave.

Jones' article focuses specifically on the way women have become portrayed in all this MTV sex-culture. I myself do not understand why no one can raise a voice against music that seems to encourage rape and gang banging and violence against women with being perceived as having their heads in the sand.

It may be that this is the down side of freedom, as capitalists play their hand to humanity's baser instincts, happy to accept the be on the receiving end of the transactions. (Profit) The only need then is to find new performers willing to go further than the previous ones...

After forcing herself through 24 hours of MTV, Jones concludes, "What I saw on MTV, and have glanced at several times on the internet, was an entire sub-culture of mainstream music videos in which sex is the only currency: in which girls wear bikinis, and boys take their pick.

It's depressing. It's demeaning. And it's corrupting a generation who simply don't have the moral guidance that would lead them to turn it off.

Like many other things, I do not think the answer here is more laws and repression of freedoms. I actually don't know what the answer is. I only know it seems like something demeaning to the human spirit is going on, and few voices are being raised to question it.

If the topic interests you, the 266 comments at the end of How Pop Became Porn will also make a good read.

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