Saturday, 27 February 2010

You're not going out looking like that

Liz Jones needs to watch a good porno. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that the permanently pissy pundit is sexually frustrated - I'm sure she's found countless ways of fruitfully filling her days on the farm in Somerset. But if she's going to accuse every female pop star of turning their videos into pornography, she really needs to jog her memory about what it's supposed to look like.

It might also help, if she's going to position herself as a champion of women, that she take a slightly more positive view of her own sex. Because, on the strength of her latest article in the Mail, they're all a bunch of weak-willed, underdressed whores who spend their whole time looking to be violated.

Liz's problems (well, the ones I'm going to address today at least) began when the not-exactly-dowdy psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos submitted a report to the Home Office on violence against women. In her report, she argued that provocative pop videos shown before the watershed are exacerbating the problem: 'Children and young people today are not only exposed to increasing amounts of hypersexualised images, they are also sold the idea that they have to look "sexy" and "hot".'

Sniffing out the chance to bash a few women in the name of 'sisterhood' Liz picked up this story and ran with it. Unfortunately, along the way, she forgot to visit anywhere even remotely close to coherence.

Whereas some women like to work through their issues with a vigorous kickboxing class, Liz is more than happy sticking the knife into everyone from Madonna (like shooting a fishwife in a barrel) and Beyonce to Shakira and Girls Aloud.

Take Rihanna for example. The Barbados beauty's last album yielded a remarkable eight hit singles, including Umbrella which managed to top the UK charts for ten weeks. And yet Liz charitably describes her as "an American pop star most famous for having been beaten up by her boyfriend." In an critique so surreal that David Lynch would have trouble following its logic, Liz shares her disdain for Rihanna's new video because she dresses "in leather bondage gear... writhes on a floor [and]...sits astride a zebra." Maybe Liz's taste in porn is a little more underground than we gave her credit for.

As if further evidence of that were needed, consider the fact that when Liz sees a women lying prone it can mean only one thing - they "look as though they have been or are about to be raped."

It's all getting a bit much for the poor, demented soul. In the name of research she bravely spent 24 hours watching MTV to make sure she didn't sound out of touch (I think we can consider that a fail on all counts), commenting "My eyes hurt. My brain has lapsed into a confused coma. I felt nauseated one moment, bored out of my skull the next." Which is strange, because she could have been describing how I felt by the time I got to the end of her article.

But before pop music gets consigned to the graveyard shift, alongside the infomercials for Nads hair removal, perhaps we should consider the role of parents in all this. Sorry - there's no point. David Cameron can't even stop his "very young daughter listening to Lily Allen's music" so what hope do the rest of us have? Well, the rest of us might retain control of our iTunes account, or observe the 'parental advisory' sticker on the CD before we bought it.

Of course, it's not just the music videos that have got Liz seething with puritanical rage. MTV's other output also has a lot to answer for. There are 'reality' shows featuring "hysterical, tanned, fake-breasted imbeciles with names like Brittany" and "hip-hop's answer to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which a half-naked girl is leered at by sportswear-clad men who have nothing witty whatsoever to say to her". Imagine that - girls called Brittany, and young men clad in sportwear. It's like the tenth circle of hell has been discovered in Liz Jones' Freeview box.

That's why she's so busy lamenting the female stars of yesteryear: "Where are the Carole Kings, the Tracy Chapmans, even the Bjorks of today?" she asks plaintively. Perhaps if she'd spent more time researching her favourite artists and less time watching Tila Tequila's bisexual dating show, she might have noticed that Carole King recently toured Japan with major R&B stars Mary J. Blige and Fergie.

Ultimately, Liz is concerned that girls and young women are having their self-image destroyed by a barrage of negative images. This lack of positive role models is giving them an unrealistic perspective on what it takes to be successful.

Rather than tuning into MTV, perhaps impressionable young women should pick up a good magazine and embrace the unattainable world of high fashion instead. It worked for Liz - although she did famously boast that she blew half a million pounds on her shopping addiction whilst working as the Fashion Editor of Marie Claire. And all in the pursuit of looking 'sexy' and 'hot'. Dr Linda would be so disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. I understand Dr Linda's point. The more women behave provocatively on screen, the more they'll be viewed as objects, leading to domestic violence. But that strikes me as being similar to the theory "If girls go out looking like tarts of course they're gonna get raped...", which is obviously disgusting.

    Regardless of what sex we are, we should have the freedom to express ourselves however we want, providing we don't offend anyone. Then again, what is considered offensive?