Issue: The Sexualisation of ChildrenThis is an issue that has come to the fore in recent years, as concern has grown around therise of ‘raunch culture’, a culture where women, especially celebrities, portray themselves ina highly sexual manner. Concerns tend to focus on whether this is a healthy influence onyoung children, especially girls, and whether it is encouraging them to grow up too fast andto imitate what they see, to look and act as if they are sexually mature when they are not.This section of work will explore how this issue is represented in different sectors of themedia.TEXT A:We are going to look at some music videos and images: Rihanna: S and M Christina Aguilera’s X Factor performance Shakira: She Wolf Miley Cyrus’s Vanity Fair photo shoot Miley Cyrus: Can’t Be Tamed 1. Pick out some features that show the artist is representing herself in a raunchy manner. What elements glamorise this image? 2. What ideologies and messages do you think they hope this representation sends out to female viewers? What do you think their Preferred Reading of this representation is? 3. If viewers take this view, do you think this representation is a good or bad influence on young girls?TEXT B:We will now read an article that appeared on theBBC News website on 18.02.2010 entitled Don’tSexualise Children – Tories. 1. What is the issue here causing concern? 2. Give some examples of products etc. aimed at girls and linked to raunch culture that are mentioned here.
3. The article doesn’t specifically mention women in music videos but how do you think music videos like the ones we have looked at above link to this issue? 4. How does the BBC article position its reader with regard to this issue? What view does it want us to adopt? How might this be different to the view of the stars who portray this image in their videos? 5. How does it do this? Consider: a. The use of sources – who does it quote and how might this promote their point of view? b. Consider the choice of words and what they connote in the following phrases: i. inappropriate sexualisation, ii. children are being bombarded with these images, iii. a lot of parents feel they are engaged in a kind of struggle, iv. such images etc. are damaging our children’s well-being 6. What kind of reputation does the BBC have in terms of news reporting and how might this also help to endorse its viewpoint on this issue?TEXT C:Finally, we will read an article dated01.03.2010 from the Mail Online, an onlineversion of the mid-market tabloid, The DailyMail. Note that the Mail is a typically right-wing paper and often is quite outspokenabout anything that challenges what it seesto be traditional British family values.1. Sum up what view the Mail wants us to take of this issue?2. What music video stars in particular are in its line of fire?3. How does the wording of the headline start to position us from the outset of this article to see things the paper’s way?
4. Now consider the role of the images in promoting this view – why do you think these images have been chosen? Make sure you describe at least one in detail. Look at the captions – how do they help anchor the meaning the paper wants us to adopt? Identify key words and think about what they suggest.5. Identify the sources the paper interviews. List them on two sides – those who support the paper’s view that such images are bad for children and those who defend such images. What do you notice about each list? Do you feel each side is treated fairly? What effect does this have on the reader’s views?6. Look at key words and phrases used. You can pick some of the comments below or find your own aim to find and discuss three. You should explain how the words chosen help encode a certain meaning:a. Can the male directors …really not come up with anything else?b. I felt nauseated one moment, bored out of my skull the next (journalist’s comment after watching 24 hours of MTV)c. …dangerous messages – MTV – which pumps this stuff out all day long – and YouTube are just too powerfuld. Soft porn merging with mainstream music videose. Stars try and defend it – journalist comments – they always spout the same nonsensef. (of Shakira): a tawdry pin-up on the cover of FHM magazineg. Can young girls tell the difference between dressing up for a video, a performance and real life?h. Young girls dress up for a Friday night out: they take the drag queen make-up and hooker uniform they see on screen literallyi. Absolutely nothing will change until a new wave of singers emerge who are intelligent, who write their own songs and control their own careers and, most importantly, manage to keep their clothes onj. Final sentence, summing up what she has seen in music videos: 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.
7. She quotes a father: I don’t see much difference between MTV and pornography.Why do you think she chose to quote this particular parent?8. The journalist also uses facts and figures: A study of MTV network’s content by the Parents’ Television Council in America found 1,548 sexual scenes containing 3,056 depictions of nudity in just 171 hours: that is a sexual scene every 6.6 minutes.How do you think this also helps manipulate the audience to see things the paper’s way?9. How do you think the type of paper the Mail is has shaped this representation? What factors govern its views?10. Do you think the journalist herself , Liz Jones, has an agenda?OVERVIEW: Do you think it is possible for a media text to report on an issue from pure motives and without any agenda? Is the reporting/ exploration of an issue allowing people to think for themselves or are we simply being manipulated into seeing things a certain way? Try and tie your ideas here into some ideas about audience theory. What ideas about audience are at the heart of this and similar debates? Do you feel that young girls will be negatively influenced by what they see in such videos or do you think the images portrayed are okay/ positive ones for young girls (and boys) to watch? Try and link your views to some Audience Theory…