Industry Ears

"A New Generation Think Tank Dedicated to Promoting Justice in media"

WHO ARE WE

A consortium of entertainment and broadcast industry professionals with more than 60 years of experience dedicated to revealing truth and promoting justice in media.

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A CALL TO CONSCIOUSNESS

"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."

--Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Media watch...


Understanding the impact of media images.

Corporate media rarely thinks about our children.

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Industry Ears Media Watch Dog


Control Your Media!

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By Mike Stocke

The recent final of Britain’s Got Talent was broadcast on a Saturday evening, featured two finalists who were 11 and 12 years old, and was watched by millions of children of about the same age or even younger.

Yet the producers still thought it appropriate that the guest-star Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the raunchy band the Pussycat Dolls, was dressed in a knicker-skimming mini-dress, bumping and grinding her hips suggestively through her latest hit, while singing ‘Come on baby, put your hands on my body . . . right there’.

Ms Scherzinger’s gyrations prompted me to voice my concerns about the insidious impact the music industry was having on our children.

The lyrics of pop songs had become too sexualised, that music videos had effectively turned into soft-core pornography, and that the combined impact of both is almost certainly having a hugely damaging effect on our children.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback I’ve received from countless people, many of them worried parents, who said that they agreed with me wholeheartedly.

It seems that society – even the most liberal-minded sections of it – is finally waking up to the huge damage that this flood of highly sexualised images is doing to our children. As someone who’s been in the music industry for over 40 years, written some 400 hits and worked with artistes such as Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley, I long for the days when pop music was for everyone; when it filled the musical gap between childhood and adulthood.

Songs such I Should Be So Lucky and Never Gonna Give You Up may have had the odd moment of cheekiness, but they were, first and foremost, fun, could be listened to (and sung along with) by anyone, and never over-stepped the mark.

Now, however, an entire generation of young girls, some as young as eight or nine, is growing up transfixed by the writhings and thrustings of performers such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, singing along to lines such as ‘Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it’, and understandably convinced of one thing – that sex sells.

Just as worrying is the impact the same material must be having on young boys. What is happening now doesn’t just undo all the good work done by the feminists of the 70s, it drags us almost back to the Stone Age. Women, as seen through the eyes of the music industry, have become little more than sex objects again.

And what a surprise, the industry doing the damage, the music industry, is absolutely dominated by men. Katy Perry may have ‘kissed a girl’, but only because men thought they could make money out of it.

Though some have laid blame on record labels, I believe he got the idea right but the targets wrong.
For me, it is the broadcasters – and by that I mean the main terrestrial broadcasters, the BBC and ITV – who have to put their house in order.

Even today, five years after Top of the Pops was cancelled and when a single download costs just 79p, it is still impossible to have a hit single without support from these terrestrial broadcasters.

So if they said no to the pelmet-skirts, the bump-and-grind routines and the suggestive lyrics, the music business would soon fall into line, as, in turn, would the fashion and publishing industries.

Much of the most sexualised material originates from the US, where, paradoxically, thanks to tighter regulation and a high regard for so-called family values, it would struggle to be shown in many states on mainstream TV.

British broadcasters must also rediscover their moral courage and wake up to what is being done here. In time-honoured tradition, sex is being used to sell something – music. But what is new and frightening is that, this time, sex is being used to sell music to children. That has to stop, and quickly.

Some 20 years ago, I recall making a music video that was going to be shown on Saturday morning television, and in which a box of matches was visible at the edge of a shot. That video would not run.

That’s what the BBC and ITV executives have to do now: look at the choreography and the costumes, listen to the lyrics, and ask themselves some simple questions. Pop music used to be an innocent joy. Now there’s a real danger that its cynical and relentless addiction to sex could damage our children in a way that may last their entire lifetime – defining not just how they see themselves, but each other, too.

It’s time to put the lingerie, the stilettos and the mucky lyrics away – and to rediscover the simple pleasures of pop.

The author is a song writer