August 18, 2015 by Nash Riggins
When you start having children, just about everything on planet earth turns into a threat. The spirits you enjoy glugging must be kept under lock and key, smokers have got to be avoided like the plague and the dirty music videos that used to give you that Friday feeling need to be left switched off until well after bedtime.
But no matter how careful you are, it’s become nigh impossible to protect innocent eyes from seeing what they shouldn’t – particularly where saucy music videos are concerned. As the brick-and-mortar music industry continues to struggle for survival, sex is becoming more and more prevalent in the Top 40. Have a quick flip through the music channels, and you won’t find a single pop video without partial nudity or a substantial amount of dry-humping.
Quite frankly, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea – which is exactly why the UK Government is prepared to step in and protect us from all these seductive, melodic shenanigans. Bless.
This week, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) announced it would be working with video-sharing websites YouTube and Vevo to implement a film-style grading system for online music videos. The idea is that these ratings will prevent kids from unnecessary exposure to dirty rap songs – and over 75 per cent of parents are apparently behind the move.
It’s not hard to see where this is coming from. But you know what? Slapping a “parental advisory” sticker onto Beyoncé’s next video will not prevent a single impressionable preteen from tuning in.
Okay, so if most young people watched pop videos on 4Music or Kerrang!, we could keep them from seeing age-inappropriate content with the help of standardised ratings or TV watersheds. I would never have to explain to my daughter why Rihanna likes touching herself whilst ranting about chains and whips or why Robin Thicke is so insistent upon us seeing him grope topless Victoria’s Secret Angels. But we don’t live in a perfect parental fairy tale; we live in the World Wide Web – and it’s impossible to shelter our kids from what happens there.
In this day and age, YouTube reigns supreme over the music world. At least two-thirds of teens rely exclusively upon the video-sharing platform for their music needs, all of the site’s top five most-streamed videos are music-related and industry dinosaur Billboard has even developed its own weekly YouTube pop chart in a bid to stay relevant. Bearing that in mind, it only makes sense that the BBFC should want to restrict the ways in which certain young people are able to interact with YouTube. The only problem is, the site already imposes age restrictions on music videos.
When a video on the site is flagged as inappropriate, users must prove they’re old enough to view it by logging into their YouTube accounts – which probably stops a lot more children from seeing Miley Cyrus’ tattoos than placing a five-second age warning at the start of her videos. But even a toddler is clever enough to fudge their birthdate on a fake Gmail account if they want to see a video badly enough. Easier still, they could cut out the middle man and search for it on thousands of other sites that aren’t prepared to appease the UK Government by adopting a ratings system.
We’ve got to face facts: we’re living in a brave new world of free-flowing information, and age restrictions or movie-style ratings simply won’t keep our children away from inappropriate materials. If anything, these hollow forms of censorship only delay serious parental conversations that are just plain inevitable. Unless you lock your kids in a broom cupboard or teach them how to surf the web with their eyes closed, at some point they’ll stumble upon dirty images you don’t want them to see. Sorry, but it’s going to happen.
So, instead of meticulously rating each music video according to how much side-boob we see, why don’t we just spend a little more time coming up with effective ways to help our kids wrap their heads around what’s out there? After all, we may not be able to prevent children from watching Robin Thicke mime dirty things in public – but we can certainly let kids know that repeating these sort of actions will probably land you in prison.