Yippee-ki-yay, Mrs Dorries

The front page of yesterday’s Daily Mail ran with the forthcoming ‘Let Children Be Children’ report, an independent review commissioned by David Cameron into the sexual commercialisation of children, due to be released tomorrow. In its finest crusading voice, the Mail wrote:

“David Cameron will endorse the proposals of Reg Bailey [the chief executive of the Christian charity Mothers’ Union] who found parents are deeply concerned that sexual imagery in television, advertising and pop videos is making children grow up too fast.

Ministers will make clear that they expect changes and the Government is prepared to intervene directly unless the conveyor-belt of smut is toned down.”

When I think about a “conveyor belt of smut” I imagine something on the scale of Barclaycard’s giant waterslide snaking through the streets of London, with a load of wobbling tits, sexually explicit song lyrics and gay kiss storylines from soaps juddering past people’s office windows. Although, I’d wager that it runs directly through the offices of the Daily Mail’s web team.

Because once you finish reading the Mail Online’s report about the smut that our children are exposed to – on television, the internet, and in the high street – you can then read about how lucky Gary Lineker is, spending the day on a sun-kissed Miami beach with his 31-year-old “model turned actress” wife Danielle. Go on, why not scroll through umpteen photos of her “sizzling body” in a black string bikini. Phwoarrr!

Still not tired of bikinis? Well, you can always click on the Mail Online’s other story about Danielle Lineker, in which you get to see photos of her wearing an open shirt over a different bikini. Or you can drool over shot…after shot…after shot…after shot…of the girls from The Only Way is Essex wearing…er..bikinis. Or maybe you’d just rather settle for Cameron Diaz in a “nude swimsuit”. Your choice.

OK, what about some science and technology news instead? Did you hear about the iKini? Apparently, you can charge your iPod with it and…oh, wait, the article features a blonde model wearing a solar-panelled bikini. Sorry.

Perhaps you’d prefer an article about Imogen Thomas “showing off her figure in a tight red summer dress alongside tan strappy heels” as she embarks on a much-needed clear-out of her wardrobe. The lead photo is a gratuitous shot of her cleavage as she hoicks a bag of clothes into a charity shop, which practically places you in between them and muffles your internal reading voice. Go on, you know you want to!

And let’s face it, she’s a remarkable role model for young girls. With the lucrative commercial opportunities and kiss and tell deals off the back of the Ryan Giggs affair, not to mention the nude modelling for Nuts and Zoo magazines (the kind of lads’ mags that David Cameron, Nadine Dorries and the Daily Mail want to see encased in a modesty cover and banished to the top shelf), she’s a modern day success story. Look, kids, she drives a Mercedes SLK and can afford to give away bin bags full of designer labels! Look how easy, yet aspirational, it all is!

But if none of that floats your boat, there’s always the Mail Online’s favourite sex tape and reality star, Kim Kardashian. If she callously suffocated a load of chicks and tossed their lifeless bodies into the slobbering jaws of an irritable Doberman, the Mail would probably report on how the chicks’ fluffy yellow feathers complimented her amazing shoes and low-cut, figure-hugging dress. They cover her every fucking move. The Kardashians simply must have some dirt on Paul Dacre.

For a newspaper with a free-to-access website, full of questionable ‘celebrity’ role models and cheap titillation posing as news, it’s laughable that the Daily Mail should report on the Bailey Review as if it’s the moral guardian of the world.

Even the Mail Online’s report into Reg Bailey’s review was crammed full of photos from Christina Aguilera’s “raunchy” X-Factor performance from last December, including a screengrab of the precise moment a backing dancer spread her stockinged legs during the dance routine.

Mary Whitehouse once said: “Last Thursday evening, we sat as a family and watched a programme that started at 6.35pm. And it was the dirtiest programme I have seen for a very long time.” I imagine several Daily Mail journalists reluctantly endured the same level of filth while searching for the sexiest looking screengrab they could find from December’s X-Factor. Poor souls.

Also talking about the Bailey Review yesterday was Tory MP Nadine Dorries. She took to the airwaves to speak to a slightly bemused-sounding John Humphries on Radio 4’s Today programme, where she once again dribbled a load of vague, outdated statistics about pre-watershed sexual references on TV. The exchange went as follows:

Dorries: “In terms of the watershed, at 9pm, there are 1.8 references to sexual intercourse before the watershed in the evening. Many more sexual innuendo and other references…”

Humphries: *interrupting* “Sorry? 1.8…say that again. There are 1.8…”

Dorries: “There’s recently been a recording of sexual innuendo, references to sexual intercourse…and there’s a whole list of comments made before the watershed. 1.4 references to sexual intercourse before the watershed at 9pm.”

You can listen to the full interview here, but Dorries’ comments are typically confused. Firstly, she quotes two different figures relating to pre-watershed references to sexual intercourse on TV, which strongly hints that she doesn’t have the first clue what she’s talking about (it’s also a different figure to the one she cited in Parliament in May). And secondly, the figures she regurgitated (“recently” recorded, apparently) had already been whisked off to a lab and carbon-dated to the early 1990s, where they’ve apparently been doing the rounds on American Christian websites for years.

You’ve almost got to give Nadine Dorries some credit. Securing yourself a slot on Radio 4’s flagship news programme to confidently spout woefully inaccurate twaddle is impressive. Disturbing, but impressive.

Referring to the prime-time filth on our screens, Dorries also claimed that “young boys want their young girlfriends to behave like the women they watch on X-Factor,” which perhaps insults young people’s intelligence slightly.

When I was a kid, I once found two books in my mum and dad’s bookshelf which made my eyes widen with delight: one was Ronnie Barker’s Gentleman’s Relish, which was a collection of Victorian nude photographs and saucy postcards, and the other was a cocktail recipe book called Rude Cocktails, featuring nude photography by David Thorpe.

If dislodging those books had caused my parents’ bookshelf to suddenly revolve, transporting me into a magical, Narnia-like world, I still probably would’ve just sat there studying every nude picture intently, while rudely ignoring the attentions of a charming woodland satyr.

Based on Nadine Dorries’ assumption that young people are impressionable to the point of having wildly inaccurate expectations of the opposite sex, I probably should have grown up believing that foreplay would come with a free champagne cocktail. Or maybe I should have expressed confusion when my first sexual experience wasn’t preceded by my girlfriend posing against a scenic backdrop, holding a parasol.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that kids should be kids. I don’t want to see little girls dressed up as if they’re starring in a school production of Band of Gold, and I obviously don’t want young kids surfing the internet for hardcore porn. But some of the anticipated recommendations in the Bailey Review range from the painfully obvious to the worryingly meddlesome.

The Advertising Standards Authority should discourage the placement of billboards with sexualised imagery near schools and nurseries or other areas where children are likely to view it. Also, no bear traps should be laid in school playgrounds. And children should not, under any circumstances, be issued with crossbows during assembly.

Lads’ mags should be moved to the top shelf or sold in covers. Fair enough. No children should have to see Danny Dyer’s smirking face superimposed over the nipples of a curvaceous blonde. If you’re moronic enough to buy such mags, you’re probably tall enough to reach them.

A single website to be created, to act as “an interface between parents and the variety of regulators across the media, communications and retail industries”. What’s this website going to be called? Mumsnet Extreme? Will the media, communications and retail industries be able to keep up with the sheer volume of complaints they’ll receive from all the parents they’ll most certainly be offending in various ways across our vast culture? And how will that work exactly? Is there going to be a Blue Peter totaliser that will set off a vibrating alarm in David Cameron’s trousers when a complaint receives a certain level of support? “We’re only 80 complaints away from having Bill Turnbull arrested for saying ‘boob’ on BBC Breakfast this morning. Here’s how you can get in touch, parents!”

A clampdown on sexualised and violent images shown before TV’s 9pm watershed. This is another no-brainer. But here’s the thing: if pre-watershed TV is sanitised to create acceptable, clean family viewing, then post-watershed TV should cater for an adult audience and be strictly off-limits to anyone complaining about the effect it’s having on their children (who shouldn’t be watching anyway).

I distinctly remember watching Die Hard 2 at gone midnight once, when “frickin'” was still being dubbed over every use of the F-word and John McClane’s famous “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” line was changed to “Yippee-ki-yay, kemosabe”. (Although, the American dubbed-for-TV version changed the line to: “Yippee-ki-yay, Mr Falcon,” so maybe we got off lightly.)

Of course, with the advent of Sky+ and internet television the watershed is somewhat irrelevant these days anyway. People can watch whatever they want at whatever time of day they choose. Prime-time TV can be toned down and sanitised to a point where the only programme available is a cartoon of Alan Titchmarsh playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with a kitten, but there will always be content that’s naturally inappropriate for children of a certain age.

As such, regardless of the government’s various reviews and recommendations, parents are always going to be the first and best line of defence in terms of what their kids are exposed to.

With the Bailey Review condemning what it describes as the “sexualised images used in public spaces and on television, the internet, music videos, magazines and newspapers,” it’s called for public space to become more family friendly, thus changing “the wallpaper of children’s lives”.

Let’s just hope that Nadine Dorries and the Daily Mail aren’t decorating.

[UPDATE: Only a few days after I published this post, the Mail Online ran a photo-heavy article about two girls from Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea series, which showed them cleaning cars and bouncing on Space Hoppers….in bikinis. It surely won’t be long until Loaded or FHM magazine comes as a free supplement with the Mail.]

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17 Comments

Filed under Comment, Politics, Rant

17 responses to “Yippee-ki-yay, Mrs Dorries

  1. gillpea

    Did you enjoy researching this post?

  2. Lou bell

    What I don’t understand is why healthy sexual (ok, maybe not too explicit for the young uns) relationships are censored but using a woman as an object so long as she has clothes on is okay for young viewers. I think I would prefer they see hardcore respectful equal sex than the sexist objectification of (just dressed) women constantly anyway!

    • andytoots

      This is quite an interesting article about an American girl’s experience of sex education in Sweden.

      “From age 12 on, the topics lean more toward disease and contraception. The classes have a moral dimension, as well: Sex within loving relationships is stressed, as is gender equality.”

      We’re light-years behind the Swedes, but it’s something to strive for.

  3. “I don’t want to see little girls dressed up as if they’re starring in a school production of Band of Gold, and I obviously don’t want young kids surfing the internet for hardcore porn.”

    I don’t either… most especially my own daughter!

    So I don’t buy her clothes I feel are inappropriate, and the laptop she has access to has parental control filters on it.

    If you don’t want your kids owning something, then don’t buy it, they don’t have any money of their own.

    If you don’t want them watching something, don’t allow them to watch it, many freeview boxes and all cable/sky boxes have parental control features. Use them.

    If you don’t want them behaving in a certain way, teach them why they shouldn’t.

    These are not complicated concepts, I remain unsure what government is doing involving itself in any of it.

    • andytoots

      Steve, you’ve absolutely nailed it!

      So much so, in fact, that I can’t actually add anything more. Well said.

  4. Lily

    Oh, yes. I’m tweeting the shit out this post.

    (Amused/completely saddened to learn today that the statistic Dorries love to quote – 63% of girls want to be glamour models – was actually taken from TV company who asked 1000 girls if they thought Jordan was a good role model. I mean, I could see the argument that she’s an excellent business woman but that doesn’t mean I’m jonesing to get my rack out in Nuts Magazine. *sigh*)

  5. Primly Stable

    I’ve noticed a startling correlation between people who condemn the government for “nanny state” policies and people who demand that the state, literally in this case, act as a kind of nanny for their children.

    I’d also like to know who will get to define what “sexualised content” will be banned in adverts near schools. I suspect Hugh Hefner and Mullah Omar would have differing views on what is acceptable.

    But my biggest issue with this whole story is that the government asked Reg Bailey to look into it. That’s like asking the Nick Griffin to investigate whether there are too many foreigners in Britain. What was the head of the Mother’s Union going to do, conclude that there’s not a problem?

    • andytoots

      A paragraph I deleted from this blog post (in a futile attempt to hack at the word count) mentioned the fact that, on the same day the Mail was cheerleading the direct intervention of government to remedy our ‘sexualised society’, it rolled its eyes at the “nanny state” for offering advice on how people can look after their pets during the hot weather.

      And yes, I completely agree. With a report of this nature, you’re going to find exactly what you’re looking for when you place the chief executive of the Mothers’ Union at the helm!

  6. Pingback: Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » Won’t you fuck off, Reg Bailey

  7. Hello Mister Toots!
    Another nice article what you writ!

    I think a conveyer belt of smut sounds a bit like a far more fun version of the Generation Game.

    …His’n’Hers Matching Thongs……Practical AND fun – a set of ovenproof dildos……Mornings’ll be much more fun with this handy overnight lube-maker……Dad will get hours of pleasure from this mains-powered pneumatic vagina……CUDDLEY TOY……A luxury porcelein dinner service featuring homosexual love scenes from the 1850s……Kid’ll love this bumper annual of Disney porn…….

    I’m totally against censorship and I’m very liberal when it comes to nudity and sexing. I think the human body is a beautiful thing (male and female, even Mr Toots) and we should stop being ashaimed of it. That said, there’s a time and a place for shagging and it’s not during Blue Peter. Even if you use sticky-backed plastic as a dental dam. There is nothing “sordid” on TV early of an evening but the tame and normal things there are (e.g. 2 [wo]men kissing) seem to worry these people.

    Ultimately, the reason people think it’s “upsetting” or “damaging” for children to see two blokes kissing on the telly at 7:00pm (has anyone asked the kids if they’re upset btw? I doubt they are) is because they might have to explain it to their kids and that might mean mentioning sexing and willies and things. Kids seeing it ain’t going to make them do it. Hiding things away and making them “taboo” is what makes little perverts like Mr Toots sit hunched over mucky books in secret – if sex wasn’t a taboo subject and there was a bit more open-ness about it (by which I don’t mean shagging on the kitchen table during breakfast), then teenagers might not be so affraid to ask questions and then might stop getting it wrong and ending up riddled and/or pregnant.

    Tis true, younger children ARE getting sexualised but only in our eyes. Slap a load of lipstick and a miniskirt on a 5 yr old girl and show her to a 5 yr old boy. He’ll see a 5 yr old girl. An adult will see a 5 yr old girl dressed as a slut. Kids’ve no idea or sense of it being dirty etc. Our dressing them like that comes from the adults wanting them to look that way – no 6 yr old buys a top that says “Slut”. That was purchased by an adult. Same with kids wearing lipstick – which is designed to make mouths resemble vaginas, afteral. “Mum, can I wear lipstick like you?” “No, Andy, it’s only for grown-ups”. Kids need (a) to be allowed to be kids and to enjoy it and (b) not be dressed in their parents own image and (c) be told ‘it’s for grown-ups’ sometimes – lipstick, short skirts, gin and anal sex are for adults, not kids. Unless you keep them up until 10pm watching Babe Network, they won’t aspire to such things and, in fact, won’t know they exist.

    An awful lot of the things this Mother’s Thing group worries about are things no parent should be letting a young kid watch. There is no sordid filth on TV before 9pm. There’s not much on afterwards tbh. There might be a bit of snogging etc though. Odd how watching Harry Potter (which is full of murders and torture) is ok to a lot of parents but seeing 2 men kiss isn’t. Odd that. If they don’t see it on TV, they’ll probably see it in real life sooner or later. If they remove it from TV they’ll try and ban it from public places just to be sure…

    xx
    PS: Can you tell I’m meant to be marking essays?

    • andytoots

      Only you could leave a comment that’s almost as long as my blog post!

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Did you see the link I posted a comments back? It was a link to an interesting article about an American girl’s experience of sex education in Sweden. The Swede’s know where it’s at! You’re right, though, sex isn’t something that’s discussed openly with young people in this country.

      You’re also right about the clothes purchases. From the parental side of things, did you read Steve Evans’ comment above? He’s absolutely spot on about kids’ clothes (and everything else).

      Now go and mark some essays!

      • Well, you know me, Mr Toots, I do like a long one!

        I agree with everything you/Steve/The Swedes say :O) Mealy-mouthed attitudes to sex are to blame.

  8. Contrast those wicked lads mags with the never-mentioned women’s periodicals… which could damage a child’s fragile little mind the most? Reg has a system of course.

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.136280276447048.36276.132254200182989

  9. Totally remember watching Die Hard with the “Yippee-ki-yay, kemosabe” line – ah halcyon days.
    Check out these ‘re-edited for TV’ movie lines on Youtube -some of them are absolutely mother fucking [MONKEY FIGHTING] genius http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4koLWPq2qDY

    • andytoots

      Thanks for the vid link, Nick. Some of those are ridiculous! (But all the funnier for it.)

      I remember watching The Breakfast Club once when “hot beef injection” was changed to “hot love and affection”. It was gone 11pm at the time. Unbelievable.

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