Is music by Pink appropriate for preteen girls? That was the basis of a recent lawsuit in New Jersey in which a father claimed his ex-wife was a “bad parent” for taking their 11-year-old daughter to a Pink concert. The basis of the case illustrates a regular quandary for parents, dance teachers and glee clubs selecting music for a recital, DJs taking requests at bat mitzvahs and the tweens themselves. The Pink-concert lawsuit is not the first time a judge has ruled on the question of what music is age appropriate for a preteen, nor will it be the last.
The father accused the girl’s mom of abusing her discretion as a parent by taking their child to a December 2013 Pink’s Truth About Love tour concert in Newark, NJ. The mother acknowledged that she was concerned about taking her daughter, who was ‘dying to go.’ The mom told the court she even looked up clips from the show on YouTube before deciding it was age-appropriate. The father indicated that he felt there was a ‘sexually suggestive’ nature in some of Pink’s performances and did not want his daughter going.
Parents, it is time to be realistic. An 11-year-old girl likely to be going through puberty and dealing with peer issues is very age appropriate for many Pink songs as well as other stars. The concern should not be an occasional F-word, it should be overt sexuality in songs and performances. Think Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and others that refer to or imitate sex acts and whether as 11-year-old should be the target audience. On that scale, Pink is tame and closer to the Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry in age appropriateness.
A friend talked about a preschooler singing Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (“But you’re a good girl, the way you grab me, must wanna get nasty”) and then asking her mom if she (the toddler) is a good girl or not? It may be cute and innocent at that age, but the song would sound very different from a middle-school girl.
Another mom tells about a kindergartener walking into a friend’s birthday festivities and precociously belting out Pink’s Get the Party Started. The same scenario is innocuous at age 5 or 15. The worst line in the song is “you’ll be kissin’ my ass.”
The New Jersey Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones had a lot to say on the topic in his 37-page decision, which contained a synopsis of the history of rock and comments on warring parents using judges as referees. He wrote that the mother did not, in any way, exceed what could be labeled “reasonable parental judgment” by taking the tween to the concert on an evening when she had custody.
Jones’ decision acknowledged that some Pink may by suggestive, but her works are not inappropriate for preteens. Several of her songs are actually intended as positive messages to her fans, such as Stupid Girls and Perfect (“Don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re less than, less than perfect.”). The judge even referenced the latter, although that title is the G-rated one; the song is called F**kin’ Perfect on Explicit versions and presumably in concert.
Parental admission here: when my daughter was a tween, I took her to Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift concerts. I took her to Green Day a couple years later. None are decisions I (or she) regret. Also, we have the entire Pink catalog on our iTunes account, so my daughter has always had access to them for her Nano or iPhone.
The judge ruled that the Pink concert did not hurt the girl, but it remains to be seen if the parental fight over age appropriate music will. This is probably not the first parental spat in which the child has been a pawn. Hopefully, when the dust settles the only long-lasting memory for the daughter will be, as the judge wrote that “a young girl went to her first rock concert with her mother and had a really great time.”
By Dyanne Weiss