I am the furthest thing from a puritan when it comes to entertainment. I don’t have a problem with violence, sex, drugs, in music, movies, or games. But the other day, I saw something that I found truly shocking – the music video for Iggy Azalea “Mo Bounce”. If you haven’t yet seen it, take a look before continuing to read this blog. It will make more sense.
It wasn’t the fact that the lyrics are “Mo’ bounce in the mutha f*&kin’ house” (you can read the poetry here if you want). It wasn’t the fact that every woman in the video was virtually naked, wearing skin-tight leotards, and bouncing and gyrating their butts and boobs throughout the entire video. Some might consider that evidence of sexual exploitation of women. Others might consider that evidence of women’s liberation and empowerment to do what they want with their bodies. Rashomon. That’s not the issue, and I’m not taking a position one way or the other.
It wasn’t the fact that the video came on right after an episode of The Simpsons’ that I was watching with my 7-year-old daughter (just to illustrate what a puritan I am not… And it was a season 20 episode, not a season 8 episode when The Simpsons’ was still pure and innocent! lol). It wasn’t even the fact that the video was effectively soft-core pornography. My daughter and I had a funny conversation about the content and lyrics, and it was a good learning opportunity for both of us.
What truly repulsed me – what I found fundamentally immoral and disgusting was how the video mixed children into the equation of it all. The video was a series of images that jumped from soft-core porn to little kids “bouncing” along with it. Mixing children into the adult content. Just look at this screenshot (the caption is from YouTube):
This is not a question of blocking kids from watching the video. I am not a proponent of censorship, even if I loathe the content. Kids watching the video is one thing. That’s a parenting issue, and it’s none of my business to the extent that it doesn’t affect my kid. Bad stuff is out there, and they are going to be exposed to it sooner than later.
I make a lot of YouTube videos, and my kids appear in a lot of them (it’s the inevitable result of a life that is consumed by the demands and joys of family life). The fundamental guiding principle I have is that my kids should never be embarrassed by their appearance in any video. Although some might argue that they are too young for “legal” consent, I always make sure they like the video before I post it. And they always have unquestionable veto power over any of their appearances. If they have a second-thought about a scene in which they appear, it ends up on the digital editing floor.
At the end of the day, the issue isn’t even one of whether or not the kid will be embarrassed for what their guardian decided for them. I am sure kids appearing in diaper ads might be a little embarrassed about it later on in life. But that too is a parenting issue, not a fundamental moral issue. The fundamental moral issue here is what is clear and over-the-top sexualizing of children. Mixing children into any portion of that music video is obscene. Period. Kids should not be sexualized. That’s the line. Iggy’s video doesn’t just cross the line that ought never be crossed of sexualizing children – it twerks all over it, and it’s just flat-out wrong.