Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Charlotte Church Slams Music Industry for Doing Its Job

From the Telegraph

The singer said she was put under considerable pressure to market her own music in ever more suggestive outfits.(1)

In a keynote speech, Church said the music industry must take responsibility for playing artists who relied on "soft porn" to boost their profile(2) as she backed calls for an age-rated system for music videos.(3)

Her address to radio executives comes as there is increasing concern about sexual imagery to sell music(4) with singer Miley Cyrus appearing naked in her video for the single Wrecking Ball.(5)

"The irony behind this is that the women generally filling these roles are very young(6), often previous child stars or Disney-tweens(7), who are simply interested in getting along in an industry glamourised to be the most desirable career for young women,”(8) she said as she delivered the John Peel Lecture at the annual Radio Festival in Salford. 

"They are encouraged to present themselves as hyper-sexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win."(9)

1. Well, if you don't have a great voice (she doesn't) or songwriting talent (she doesn't), what else do you have, especially once the brand image of being a child star disappears? Sorry, that's the free market. If you want a record deal, you've got to be better than thousands of others.
2. Anyone who thinks that someone wearing skimpy clothing is soft porn is nuts. In most cases it's not much less than what Betty Grable wore in the 1940s. Or what Kate Bush wore for Babooshka in the 1980s.
3. There is an age-rated system for music videos. If you want to buy Duran Duran Greatest on DVD, it's rated 18 for a good reason. The content in these videos is no worse than what used to get shown on Benny Hill.
4. Sexual imagery has always been used to sell music. People were complaining about what Elvis was doing, remember?
5. She's no more naked in that video than a woman lying face down on a beach.
6. Miley Cyrus is 20, and by definition, legally an adult. She can make her own choices.
7. So what? Judy Garland and Liz Taylor were child stars. Didn't stop them being a boozer and a slut.
8. Madonna is worth $500m. Britney Spears is worth $200m. OK, there's some richer women out there than that, but most of them inherited their wealth. There's very few self-made women in business worth that much.
9. And that's because that's how you win in the pop music market. In no country on earth where people are free is this not the case. Olivia Newton-John singing Physical in the 1970s, the French singer Alizee in the 1990s, or Korean K-Pop. All rely on their sexuality to sell records. Unless you're going to suggest censorship


Lola said...

And what about Opera? Carmen is dead sexy and suggestive. Or ballet? Or theatre.

There's a lot of cultural snobbery in this.

Lola said...

...and something else. When you hit them with logic a la MW 'they' usually respond with an answer beginning with the phrase 'Well, I just think....', when clearly they don't, think, that is.

Anonymous said...

(4) Why is she complaining to "radio executives"? You can't see what the singer was wearing during the recording sessions (probably something comfy and practical). She ought to be addressing the music TV people.

Anonymous said...

Let's be devil's advocate. The sexualisation of girls at a younger and younger age contributes in no small fashion to the misery of a good many women, who by virtue of their own aesthetically challenged bodies can never hope to live up to the ideal as presented in the media/music/fashion world. We have censorship anyway so its just a case of where the censors draw the line. There are advertising standards and if we need it we can tighten those with legislation.

However, it would be far better if those who worked in these industries [fashion/ music/ film/ advertising/ marketing etc] owned them and had a more direct role in managing them rather than just being employees. Then I think it far more likely that they would take a more community minded approach to such matters rather than the fastest way to make a buck and to heck with what it does to people who get in the way or can't handle the consequences.

The Stigler said...


Yeah, Carmen's about the sexiest opera. It's what I take newbies to, because there's lots of great tunes.

Don Giovanni basically tries to get some humour out of rape (as in, pretending to be someone's husband). You don't hear many feminists complaining about it, even though I thought it was quite foul.

Lola said...

TS....and there's 'Strictly Come Dancing'...

Anonymous said...

Do they get starkers in 'Strictly' then?

The Stigler said...


Well no, but do you want to argue that the tango isn't a sexual dance?

If you've got a problem with nudity, should we remove the La maja desnuda by Goya from the Courtauld?

Anonymous said...

@The Stigler.
The Tango? Surely we can differentiate between something which is merely suggestive and something that is 'in yer face'.
The same way we can differentiate between a Rubens and a Linda Lovelace. Or is that elitist?

The Stigler said...


Lola and I were discussing things that are sexual, and the Tango is. It's groin to groin, and goes beyond suggestive.

I'd love someone to try and distinguish between that Goya and Playboy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we are missing the point.

Which is that pop music is pop music (which I happen to love) and pop videos are pop vidoes (about which I am heartily indifferent). Anybody who watches pop videos for sexual reasons is a bit weird - they are simply not "sexy". Not even Rihanna ones.

Miley's "Cannonball" is a crap record musically. I forced myself to watch the video and it is embarrasing, You just think "The poor lass, she must be frozen silly and she's not wearing the correct safety clothing for working on a building site".

Anybody who buys a record on the basis of the video is an idiot (I bought Madonaa's "Vogue" because the video was so cool, but frankly, the record is shit, so never again).

But at least Miley had one halfway decent record (the Hannah Montana OST), Church's output of "good pop records" is precisely zero - even though she is far more womanly and attractive than Miley.

Anonymous said...

Still, if they got their kit off for the Tango I imagine you could appreciate that the nude version was not the same as the fully clothed one. At the core though is that every facet of the human condition should be marketable and exploited regardless of the costs to those who don't quite measure up [the vast majority]. Routine objectification of women for the sexual gratification of men is justified on the simple basis that there are paying customers who must be satisfied.

The Stigler said...


Haha. You've just reminded me of the bit from The Full Monty where they comment on the welding technique of the woman in Flashdance.

The thing with sexy videos is that they're more about controversy than anything else. And that goes right back to Duran Duran, Belouis Some, through to The Prodigy and Christina Aguillera. The only one I think is genuinely sexy is the video for Britney Spears Toxic.

And in the case of Xtina, Dirrty was used to show she's no longer a child performer. Miley is desperately trying the same thing and failing, because she looks so awkward.

The Stigler said...


People who don't feel they measure up are not going to feel better if sexy stuff is taken away in the media. They'll still hate themselves if they go into a bar and are stood next to a hot woman.

Of course, that'll be the next stage. Ban porn and objectification in the media. After that, they'll want women wearing burqas.

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC156, yes, that's what it boils down to.

I don't think normal blokes care one way or another about page 3 girls, or Miley or NUTS magazine etc. If anybody "cares" it's the feminists acting, they claim, in the interests of not-quite-perfect women. Well try looking in a "women's mag" and it is far, far worse. It's cover to cover soulless totty with perfect skin.

They might or might not have a point, I don't know.

TS, Dirrty, schmirrty. That record is actually - and rather infuriatingly - quite good and the video is also quite funny I suppose.

But her best record by about a thousand miles is "Soar" and I have no idea what the video for that one is like.

The Stigler said...

I'm not too well up on Xtina, although I liked Beautiful and Dirrty.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, "Beautiful" was an awful record, it's the usual self-pitying crap like C.R.E.E.P. or "Born This Way" etc. That's far worse porn that proper tits and ass porn, deliberately preying on people's loneliness and feelings of inadequacy etc.

Lola said...

Then there's OK Go, who make great videos with no sex at all.

(apologies for late response - v busy. L)