UPDATE: An Australian study has found sexy pop music videos are having an effect on how young children dress and behave. Believe it or not, researchers from Adelaide studied what children up to Year 7 wore at their school disco and observed whether they were dancing ‘exotically’. The answer was: apparently pop music has a lot to answer for.
Well, I had the same thought:
The Hogsbreath Cafe is not my natural habitat. Generally, I’m not big on theme restaurants after overdoing it at The Hard Rock Cafe back in the 90s. And somehow, I’d always assumed the Hog in Hogsbreath referred to bikers, possibly confusing it with that other HOG – the Harley (Davidson) Owners Group.
It turns out the ‘hog’ is in fact pig-related. Had I been paying attention, I might have learned this from the restaurant chain’s logo which features an actual hog and no motorcycles at all.
So anyway, I recently found myself in a small coastal town with a gaggle of children who begged me to take them to the Hogsbreath for dinner. As the only adult in our party of six, I was apprehensive but game. Mostly though, I was hungry. From the moment we walked in, I was also pleasantly surprised. It was clean, great menu, well-priced. A family restaurant for people of all ages, is how they describe themselves on their website. Yep.
My cheeseburger was delicious. My glass of wine was hitting the spot. There were coloured pencils for the little kids. Curly fries. Life was good. Until.
“Is that what women do at the hairdresser?” asked one of the teenagers wryly, pointing to one of the many TV screens playing music videos.
I spun around to be greeted with the sight of spread legs. Six pairs of them, all belonging to Pussycat Dolls – the LA-based group of strippers turned popstars – who were inexplicably singing a song about ‘not needing a man’ while doing a seated dance routine at the hairdressers. Except their dance moves mostly involved pretending they had an invisible cricket bat clamped lengthways between their open knees.
In my own chair, I was not dancing. I was seething. Meanwhile all the kids at my table stared at the screens.
Suddenly, the clip changed to a close-up of one Pussycat Doll feeling her boobs with wild enthusiasm. “She’s checking for lumps,” I told the kids gravely. “Every woman must do that each month. It’s very important.”
Next, the women began running their hands over other body parts as if to make sure their internal organs were in place. “Good to be thorough when you check” I added.
And then the clip got worse. After checking their boobs, crotch and internal organs were all there, the Pussycat Dolls began pulling off their clothes. “All that lace must be very itchy” I explained to the kids. At this point, I noticed the song’s lyrics which were accidentally hilarious: “I don’t need a man to make me happy, I get off being free. I don’t need a ring around my finger, to make me feel complete” sang the Pussycat Dolls, dancing around in their knickers while fist pumping to the empowering idea that they don’t need a man.
No, but they really needed a cardigan, some pants and an M15+ rating. Woo.
A few days later I visited a new gym and there too, the TVs were showing music videos, the same tired and tacky mix of OTT sleaze that blurs one song into the next. It was 6am. I don’t want to look at strippers before I’ve had a cup of tea, thanks. Or possibly at all.
I had a similar experience a few years ago when I took my son bowling. At the end of each lane were giant music video screens. We were literally bowling into half-naked gyrating women covered in oil. He was about 10. We never went back.
How has this kind of imagery become wallpaper? How have we allowed a small group of men in the music industry to confuse pop music with stripping and portray women in such a demeaning, one dimensional way? And how did it quietly become a backdrop to our daily lives?
Wait. This is the part in the story where readers who know I used to edit Cosmopolitan (with sealed sections!) will snort derisively into their latte: “Hypocrite! What sort of smut did you used to peddle, lady! Not so happy now you’re on the other side, huh? HUH?”
Actually, there’s a huge difference. You could only see the contents of those sealed sections if you bought the magazine and ripped them open. Your choice. I did not take my sealed sections and wave them in your face while you were on the treadmill or trying to enjoy a cheeseburger with your family. I did not barge into your lounge room and show them to your kids on a Saturday morning.
Is this how every generation elbows the previous one out of the way? By making their pop culture so unpalatable that they force them to retreat? Did my grandmother feel the same dismay about Elvis and his pelvis?
Well bugger that, because I’m not ready to shuffle off to Classic Hits. I love pop music. I just hate the imagery that accompanies it.
The vast majority of music videos featuring women are as soulless and nasty as bad porn. Girls in their undies faking how insanely pleasurable it is to hump the floor or feel your own boobs at the hairdresser? Please.
You want to watch that stuff? Go for your life. Freedom of choice. But when it becomes wallpaper in restaurants, gyms and other public spaces, where is my choice? For myself and for my kids? I want it back.
Here’s the Pussycat Dolls music video in question:
And Rihanna’s video for a song called S&M:
Have you noticed images like these creeping into public places? Does it mean anything to you?