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Nels Abbey
Time to let children be children again

SEXUAL: Esther Baxter

IN THE ‘90s Dr C. Delores Tucker, a Civil Rights leader who marched alongside Martin Luther King (which instantly elevates one to angel status) and also the first African-American Secretary of State for Pennsylvania took exception to ‘gangsta rap’ which was then personified by the all-star roster of Death Row Records.

As a result of her criticism, Dr Tucker’s halo was knocked right off her head and she emerged as perhaps the most dissed pensioner in hip-hop history. She became the quintessential enemy in my young and impressionable eyes.

With age comes wisdom (although at times it comes alone) and hopefully some grown-up values. As one grows older one notices the increasing degradation of hip-hop and, by extension, its consumer.

For example: when Ice T released the album Power - the one with corresponding front and back shots of his bikini-clad, shotgun-toting then-wife ,it was cutting edge and daring. That was eclipsed by the antics of 2 Live Crew. Which in turn were made old news by Tupac Shakur’s steamy How Do You Want It video.

Then came Nelly swiping a credit card through a ‘lady’s’ bottom cheeks in his infamous (yet glorious) Tip Drill video. And now our own Skepta has absolutely killed the ‘music video’ concept by releasing a harsh-as-hell-on-the-eye hardcore pornography video set to what I think he considers to be a song.

All of these guys are just businessmen trying to sell a product (which makes Skepta look dafter given that even the most ardent sex-crazed pervert wouldn’t buy his ‘song’ or video). And to be fair to them, the problem is not the product (with the honourable exception of Skepta of course). The problem in this instance is the age of the targeted consumer of the product.

If your target audience is as young as 11, is it really too much to think that perhaps a video in which a woman and a man openly fellate each other literally in graphic detail, may be at the very least a bit irresponsible?

A generation ago, an 11-year-old would look forward to getting home to watch Danger Mouse, or if their parents were quite liberal - Thunder Cats or Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (remember the uproar over the word ‘Ninja’ that was in the American title?). After school – nowadays your 11-year-old returns home to a virtual violent house of ill repute courtesy the good folk at MTV.

Compounding the issue is the fact that children are less likely to be supervised due to the career pressures on parents.

Bearing all of this in mind I couldn’t help but celebrate when I read the Coalition government’s announcement that they were going to implement the recommendations of the Bailey Report on the Sexualisation and Consumerisation of Children.

These suggestions include brown bagging sexually suggestive publications (one wonders if that includes The Sun newspaper), giving music videos age ratings and an end of the sale of inappropriate children’s clothing. A good start I say.

In an age where youngsters are so hardened that a teenager was procured for £200 to carry out a contract murder, the term ‘gun and knife crime’ is as British as the term ‘fish and chips’. Children are so sexualised that gang rapes are not shocking, or breaking-news worthy and someone, somewhere, produced a thong with a matching padded bra for toddlers (I kid you not).

Something had to be done. The Government must be congratulated for doing it and be urged to see it through.
The number of victims of the sexualisation, consumerisation and ‘streetification’ of children outstrips the number of those enriched mildly by it by millions of multiples. Sell the product to the adult and let children return to the important business of being children.

Dr C. Delores Tucker died probably bitter, but certainly publically discredited in 2005 at the age of 78 (Death Row records on the other hand died acrimoniously at the age of 10). Her sin was to tell us where we were going wrong and where it would lead to. Sadly she has been proven right. For this reason I believe her reputation should be exhumed and decorated.

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