When I step into my local newsagent, it never ceases to amuse me that copies of The Economist are kept on the top shelf, while The Sun and the Daily Star are kept within easy reach of children on the lower shelves. Clearly, well-endowed models and salacious celebrity gossip are more important than current affairs and intelligent debate…
Jokes aside, it does seem as though certain aspects of pop culture are steadily declining, and becoming more smutty and crass. You do not even need to be a prude to feel annoyed by this. For example, the infamous Page 3 campaign and its pernicious influence on attitudes to women are justified by The Sun through hollow and specious rhetoric of empowerment and freedom. The argument against the Sun’s Page 3 is well established, but one can’t help but notice a recent trend of pornification of pop culture, perhaps most markedly in Miley Cyrus’ now infamous performance at the VMAs and sudden ubiquity of the term ‘twerking’. In my opinion, Miley Cyrus is an attention-seeking cretin, and it’s hard not to become disillusioned at how tasteless pop culture has become. One can’t help but be horrified by the thinly veiled quasi-pornographic nature of many music videos (case in point- ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke), which makes the outrage engendered by Elvis grabbing his crotch in the Sixties seem almost quaint in comparison.
While great strides have been made in attitudes towards sexuality and equal rights, this sleazy trend of ‘pornification’ in pop culture is damaging the interests of egalitarianism and the feminist movement. Don’t believe the rhetoric about empowerment, this is just objectification writ large; women are being cynically employed as disposable commodities by spineless corporate types to sell records or newspapers. The worst thing is, us muggins are falling for it day after day, and anybody who opposes this is labelled as being a miserable pedant.
Being a racist is, thankfully, considered deplorable in today’s society, but misogyny and chauvinism is still not seen as a definite taboo. This is not least in part to the malign influence of ‘lad’ culture. In this context you can act in a manner which is completely reprehensible, yet still be commended for it and receive ‘man points’, or simply justify your horrific actions with the vacuous defense of it all being harmless ‘banter’.
A lot of men seem to be afraid of or indifferent to feminism; they seem to fear that they’re not in a proper position to speak out against injustices, and that if they were to, it would be shot down in flames with a barrage of cynical assumptions. This need not be the case. Eliminating gender inequality is as pressing an issue as stamping out homophobia, and we should not turn a blind eye to the subtle ways in which pop culture (and culture in general) molds these regressive attitudes.