Following the Miley Cyrus vs Sinead O’Connor publicity fiasco, it now appears that Annie Lennox, legendary vocalist and one half of the 1980’s avant-garde electro-pop duo, Eurythmics, has now stepped in to have her say in the debate over “overtly sexualized performances” of young music artists in the industry today.
Annie Lennox took to her Facebook fan page to express how “disturbed” she was at the overtly sexualized performances she had been witnessing in the media. She alluded to various record labels lacking boundaries, as well as being the perpetrator of music promotion videos that were tantamount to pornography accompanied by music.
Ms Lennox continued that as long as there was “booty” to financially mooch off, it was still all very much up for sale. She expressed the hypocrisy in self-perpetuated misogyny to only be justified as long as YouTube hits were accumulating and dollars were rolling in. She also likened this type of behavior to pimping, prostitution and glorified self-harm.
Lennox came back on to her Facebook fan page the next day to say that following some self-reflection on her previous comments, she had tried to remain measured, with the realization that the subject of pimping artists in the music industry is a controversial and divisive one.
She added that although she was clearly aware that sexuality was a characteristic way of life and that she saw nothing wrong with behaving in a sexual or sensual manner, she suggested that if performers, perhaps ones such as Miley Cyrus or Rihanna, among others, were to behave in this way in front of their young and susceptible fans, then their performances really need to come with an adult rating. This would not only be to protect the youngsters who naturally tend to mimic the subjects of their fandom but also for most of the unsuspecting parents who would not necessarily want their children to be exposed to, or influenced by, this type of imagery at such an early age.
The Eurythmics singer also suggested the need for boundaries to be set so that children are not bombarded with a continuous stream of sexualized imagery from the very media that attempts to normalize explicit sexualized images in children’s entertainment. She also questioned how appropriate it would be to see girls under the age of ten to be cavorting around in this manner while thrusting their lower body parts around like pole dancers.
Ms Lennox is clearly making reference to the twerking performances that have reached our screens courtesy of Miley Cyrus et al. What is even sadder and more horrendous to witness, was the YouTube video of two toddlers, dressed in frilly bikinis and made to get down low and twerk for the camera in the most sexualized and provocative manner – a video that was posted by their mother. Another equally, if not more disturbing scenario was the YouTube posting of a father, taking a video cable and whipping the life out of his two visiting daughters, while the video title stated that he did it because he caught them twerking on Facebook. It turned out that the girls had been whipped so brutally by their father for sneaking out of the house. Nobody has explained who was actually behind the camera. The man was since arrested for child abuse.
Not every aspect of the music industry or media should be seen as evil. There are some areas of the industry that are still in existence for the genuine promotion of the creative arts, as well as for the eyes and ears of an appreciative viewer or audience. It takes a person with a spirit of discernment to identify the difference.
However, that said, there are those who will quite happily and without conscience, sit by, watching young artists being pimped or pimping themselves for video hits and ‘likes’ while they pocket the profits. The young, impressionable audience and pimped artists are the fallout victims, the latter of who might not be ready to admit it now, but who are, sad to say, in need of constant attention and feel inadequate when they go without it for too long.
This behavior is also echoed in teenagers who are going through massive hormonal and frequent emotional changes, while perhaps struggling with either personal, familial or social issues of their own. They will always feel the need to belong, the need to be liked. But for the young Internet Generation, lines have become blurred where being “liked” by a virtual community is confused with actually being popular. The ‘pimps’ that sit by and do nothing but prey on the young by perpetuating images that are nothing short of pornographic are the ones who need to be stopped.
This is why it can only be a good thing that experienced, strong and positive female role models such as Sinead O’Connor and Annie Lennox speak out on behalf of the unsuspecting young who cannot possibly understand the full extent of their actions until it is too late. They have seen it all before, time and time again, long before this new young breed of “selfie”-taking YouTubers were even born, let alone arrived on the music scene. They know the score. O’Connor went so far as to blame people like Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh for “murdering” music and promoting the get-rich-quick mentality that many young artists have become so hooked on at the expense of all else. This equates to an instant gratification society.
Miley Cyrus is still young, no matter how she likes to dress herself. She claims that everyone else was over-thinking her actions at the VMAs and that she did not even think about it. Let us just examine that for a moment. “She did not think” at all, otherwise she would have engaged some foresight and then rethought her actions. Miley Cyrus’ unacceptable behavior towards O’Connor as she cruelly made fun of O’Connor’s mental health issues has demonstrated her immaturity and tit-for-tat mentality. At her age, not only are we deluded that we are invincible, we also think we have all the answers.
Written by: Brucella Newman