We are still in the midst of some sort of uproar resulting from a combination of outrage at Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMAs. I have read numerous critiques of both in an attempt to understand the intense anger that these things have caused in some people (one of my recent blog entries was about the song Blurred Lines and my interest in it). One thing that seems to a constant aside from the outrage is the call of censorship.
“Parents: make sure your kids don’t listen to this music”
“I’m so glad they censored Miley’s use of the word Molly in her song”
“This is inappropriate material for such a broad audience”
A large group of people seem calling for censorship. Why? Because they don’t want their kids to listen to music that might say the word “bitch” or promote certain behavior? I’m not saying that media does not influence us. It does, subtly and not so subtly we are influenced by the things that we see on television and hear on the radio, BUT being influenced by them doesn’t necessarily mean we will do what is said.
I’m not even talking about violent video games or songs about shooting people – those are topics for a whole other discussion. I’m talking about this type of media: half-naked women, veiled drug references, and the odd curse word. I don’t see why these things need to be censored.
1. Half-naked women (or naked women for that matter): Why must this be an issue of censorship? Why does it corrupt a young girl for her to see what another woman looks like? Does watching a woman dance around naked on camera make me want to do that? Personally, it has the opposite effect on me, but so what if it didn’t? What is the inherent problem in being half-naked in public (public decency laws aside)? Why is it so offensive? Maybe the concern is the effect on young boys. Maybe there’s a belief in corrupting the innocent male mind with a look a woman’s body. Can’t we teach kids that the body is normal? Not something to be giggled at in magazines (or online now, I guess). If we didn’t create a culture of shame and hiding around women’s bodies then people, especially young people, wouldn’t react the way they sometimes do if they see them.
2. Veiled drug references: if you know the meaning of the reference then the song isn’t corrupting you, you’ve already been corrupted. If you don’t know the reference then you just won’t notice it. Take the line “dancing with molly.” I think that the media attention and the parental uproar at the potential meaning of the word molly taught far more people what the word molly meant than that song would have. For anyone who doesn’t know what molly could refer to, the lyric does just say “dancing with Molly”, and Molly is a perfectly acceptable female name…
3. Cursing: this one holds the most truth in that it is true that we tend to parrot the behavior of our idols in many ways. If a celebrity calls someone a bitch and you a young person who idolizes that celebrity then maybe you’re more likely to call someone a bitch. Firstly, on a slightly controversial note: who cares? If kids are cursing to each other and not at teachers or parents then who cares? When I was younger my language was very different depending on whom I was talking to. This is a skill that we should learn. Even as an adult you probably shouldn’t be talking to your kids the same way that you talk to your drinking buddies, and the same goes with your boss. There a sections of our lives that we have to know how to behave in; most people learn this from a mixture of experience and advice.
When I first swore in front of my mother she explained two things: 1. She found it offensive and that it was something I should realize could easily offend, and 2. To be careful that I am in control of the words I use so that I don’t end up cursing in a conversation with a boss someday. If you are a parent calling for censorship because of concerns of the influence of bad language, why not work on talking and explanations instead? No, talking and explanations don’t always work, and normally won’t work straight away (I think it took me a while to fully follow my mom’s advice) but they will stick, and normally by the time it’s important the lesson will have been understood.
People aren’t stupid, we all know that a blurred image or a beep in the audio is a censoring of some kind. This is what kids hear. They may not hear the exact words, but they know that something “bad” is being said or done. When it’s censored there is usually no discussion about what is censored, which leaves no way for kids to understand why it might be offensive.