Daily Mail Fail: Rank Hypocrisy On Pop Music & Sexualised Teens

The Daily Mail today printed an article by Mike Stock complaining about the sexualisation of children through pop music. But, points out Luke Turner, the tabloid's printing of semi-naked photos of a 17-year-old singer and Stock's on dubious past makes them flagrant hypocrites

The Daily Mail today published this article by Mike Stock of Stock, Aitken, Waterman under the headline "Why this pop-porn will damage a generation of children". Writing about the final of Britain’s Got Talent, Stock thundered, "the producers still thought it appropriate that the guest-star Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the raunchy band the Pussycat Dolls, was dressed in a knicker-skimming mini-dress, bumping and grinding her hips suggestively through her latest hit, while singing ‘Come on baby, put your hands on my body… right there’. Her whispering ‘I like it dirty’ seemed as unsurprising as it was superfluous, and was, suffice to say, wholly inappropriate for the programme’s family audience."

He continues: "Ms Scherzinger’s gyrations prompted me to voice my concerns about the insidious impact the music industry was having on our children — that the lyrics of pop songs had become too sexualised, that music videos had effectively turned into soft-core pornography, and that the combined impact of both is almost certainly having a hugely damaging effect on our children."

Stock warmed to his theme, saying that these artists were even contributing to the decline of Britain: "Faced with a growing army of ten-year-old girls who move and dress like hookers, the moral tide in this country is turning."

Stock goes on to lay the blame at the foot of the BBC, ITV, record labels and R&B (wince at the mighty dubious "which nowadays has nothing to do with rhythm and blues but merely denotes pop music of urban origin"), and bemoans a supine regulator: "they are aided and abetted by a regulatory body, Ofcom, which can intervene only once a complaint has been made. In other words, Ofcom can act only after the material has been broadcast."

He concluded by harking back to a more innocent age: "Pop music used to be an innocent joy. Now there’s a real danger that its cynical and relentless addiction to sex could damage our children in a way that may last their entire lifetime – defining not just how they see themselves, but each other, too. It’s time to put the lingerie, the stilettos and the mucky lyrics away – and to rediscover the simple pleasures of pop."

Mike Stock was part of the Stock Aitken and Waterman production team who produced singles by Viz regulars The Flat Slags and former Page Three model Samantha Fox. Her track ‘Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)’ appeared on her SAW-produced second LP. It was also presumably not the acres of press publicity that greeted the fact that the 14-year-old Mandy Smith was shagging Rolling Stone Bill Wyman that encouraged Scott, Aitken, Waterman to sign her at the age of 16. And her debut single ‘I Just Can’t Wait’ was no doubt concerned with her enthusiasm to begin a college course than a reference to her under age coitus with a rock star. Stock was surely not the man who approved the cover artwork for ‘I Can’t Wait’, which featured Smith looking suggestively at the camera with both hands down the front of her skimpy underwear.

Stock was also presumably writing for a very different Daily Mail from the publication that last week ran a frothy and enthusiastic story on its website about the performance by 17-year-old singer Taylor Momsen (us neither) at the preceding weekend’s Download Festival. Now, I wouldn’t normally go to the Daily Mail for reports on festivals where metal and emo are on the bill – unless, of course, it was EMO KILLS OUR CHILDREN scaremongering. But the paper seemed especially interested in Momsen’s appearance at the bash. And why? The entire article, including eight pictures and a video sourced from YouTube, concerned itself with Momsen’s attire. Now, she was wearing a Confusion Is Sex-era Sonic Youth t-shirt. Perhaps the Mail were keen to alert their readers to the brilliance of tracks like ‘Brother James’ or ‘She’s In A Bad Mood’? Alas not. Instead they were keen to focus on her customisation of this t-shirt to expose much of her breasts: "Rock chick Taylor Momsen lets it all hang out in a slashed top but kindly covers her modesty with tape."

The article continued with priapic zeal: "The 17-year-old threw on a loose-fitting top that exposed her chest, but she was considerate enough to at least cover her nipples with duct tape. Her top is one she appears to have altered herself, slashing the neck, removing the sleeves and leaving the sides open."

The Mail writer even seemed to be praising Momsen’s bold, individual attitude: "Momsen’s look is not the carefully crafted work of PR image-makers. In fact, the former child star fired her stylist because she was unhappy with the squeaky-clean look they had been developing," they enthused, quoting Momsen thus: "I do myself up kind of like a doll. I have a doll collection and I look at their outfits and kind of imitate them."

Taylor Momsen, and her breasts, are 17-years-old.

If you would like to do as Mike Stock suggests in today’s article on the sexualisation of children in pop music, and make a complaint about the newspaper for featuring a girl under the age of 18 in a state of undress on its website, it can easily be done at the Press Complaints Commission website.

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