That, apparently, was Ofcom on the subject of Rihanna’s suggestive dancing:
Ofcom has dismissed previous complaints at the way in which programmes like X Factor, watched by millions of children, feature huge stars such as Christina Aguilera and Rihanna wearing few clothes and posing suggestively.
Ofcom ruled that Rihanna’s routine “featured some gentle thrusting”, but it was “suitably limited”.
I’m not exactly sure what – in this context – “suitably limited” means. Sexuality is always going to be a grim matter of profound disagreement for a society such as ours. On the one hand, many of us enjoy it. On the other hand, many of us feel guilty about it. Religious bodies don’t help with their hypocrisies but neither are secular institutions such as TV stations, the music industry, fashion companies and publishing organisations doing very much to help all of us feel entirely comfortable with ourselves.
And whilst I welcome what I believe is probably an honestly-felt thinking behind Cameron’s proposals – that is to say, a desire to deal with what is the manifest commercialisation of childhood – I would be far happier with such ideas if they were couched in far more general terms. There is an industry out there now deliberately designed to hook us all into an addictive relationship with those infamous fifteen minutes of fame. Big Tobacco, now suitably vanquished, at least in the Western world, has, as a result, been replaced by Big Talent (more here).
If Cameron is truly looking to do something more than just capture cheap headlines – if he is looking, in this campaign, to truly re-engineer modern society – he needs to show us he’s not out simply to ghettoise the lads mags (an easy thing to achieve, by the way), but that he’s also looking to change the way we buy and sell almost everything else. And that includes how his friends in the newspaper industry, who make the business of celebrity sex an available-to-all daily bread and butter, act out their prejudices.
A thought does occur to me, though – if New Labour had ever dared to face up to such a powerful group of interests on this kind of an issue, the entertainment industry would surely have, a priori, crucified them. It either takes guts to take such an industry on – or it’s a massive miscalculation. So it is that I honestly wish Cameron well in this matter – but, even so, simultaneously find myself fascinated by exactly how far he intends to run with it; how coherent and cogent he intends to be; and how much real success his sponsors in very different matters will end up allowing him to reap.
For it does seem very New Labour-ish, don’t you think? And as I wish Cameron well, at least in this matter, I also wonder if other forces around him – or, indeed, he himself in a moment of political expediency – mightn’t use this initiative to lever a degeneration into another kind of world altogether: a world of thought police, censorship and mind control we thought we might have escaped from long ago.