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August 19th 2010 print

Philippa Martyr

Third thoughts on porn culture

I am inclined to think that this newfound morality stems not from having little ones sitting next to you on the couch during Video Hits. Rather, I think it’s coming from a collective music-biz envy of (the admittedly repellent) Lady GaGa’s astonishing mega-multi-media empire, which is currently coining money out of every orifice.

I couldn’t let Bill Muehlenberg’s piece pass without some post-apocalyptic deliberately-childless feminist thoughts of my own. I heartily agree with Bill that sexualising children is utterly wrong. But I think he’s missing the Joe Miller of all this ‘sudden’ discovery of morality. 

Kylie Minogue’s former producer, Mike Stock, is now – now, look you – hitting out at too-sexy music video clips. This would be the same Kylie Minogue whose video in 2000 for ‘I’m Spinning Around’ featured exquisitely-detailed close-ups of her backside hanging out of short shorts while she writhed on a bar in a crowded club. And the same Mike Stock who produced singles for Samantha Fox in 1988/89, around the same time that he was also trying to make money out of the no-talent rock star groupie Mandy Smith. And the same Mike Stock who engineered Kylie’s transformation of her singing-budgie persona into Sexy Kylie with ‘Better the Devil You Know’ in 1990 – that would be the video clip with her writhing around in a state of more-or-less undress with a well-muscled chappie who was clearly not a relation. 

I don’t remember Mike Stock having much to say on morality when Kylie was fresh-faced, supple, in her 20s and still very sellable to the pimply heterosexual teenage boy demographic. Now, however, Kylie no longer works for Stock, is over 40, has had cancer treatment, has a suspiciously smooth face and a strong gay following (male, that is), and is engaged to a handsome Spanish model some years her junior. 

And what of Kate Ceberano? Now Kate, to my recollection, has usually been pretty modestly dressed in her clips, but didn’t she record a very successful single called ‘Pash Me’ in 1997 which left little to the imagination? And do my beady old eyes deceive me, but is that Katy Perry joining us on the sidelines, wearing a burqa? The same Katy Perry whose 2008 lesbian-lite single ‘I Kissed A Girl’ broke light-speed records in the sales department, and whose current single ‘California Gurls’ features Katy and her backup dancers prancing about with bikini tops adorned with a pair of very round, very white cream pies, each with a strategically placed cherry? 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but these overnight cheerleaders of purity are somewhat suspect. I am inclined to think that this newfound morality stems not from having little ones sitting next to you on the couch during Video Hits. Rather, I think it’s coming from a collective music-biz envy of (the admittedly repellent) Lady GaGa’s astonishing mega-multi-media empire, which is currently coining money out of every orifice. 

Much as I don’t want to look at Lady GaGa even for a moment, the protestations of Perry et al remind me of nothing so much as so-called ‘professional’ organisations who try to stitch up the trade in their goods or services for themselves by denouncing their opposition and urging legislation to ban them. And while I would love to think, along with Mike, that the times they are a changin’, I have a very strong feeling that they’re not changing at all. 

My dear ladies – and you are ladies, I’m sure, all of you who fought for abortion on demand and the right to breast-feed in parliament – I have some very bad news for you. You have porn on music TV not because Madonna is a floozy, or because Britney Spears forgot her underwear, or whatever other excuses we make to ourselves. There is porn on TV because you let it happen: you let other people’s kids watch it without comment, and you let your kids watch it without comment, and you send them to schools where other people’s kids watch it without comment, and you couldn’t be bothered policing their viewing, or teaching them that this kind of thing was wrong and destructive. 

Ladies, the answer is in your hands. It’s called the remote control. Switch the damn thing off, and let it stay off.

Read Bill Muehlenberg’s “Second thoughts on porn culture” here…