Ofcom has chucked out some fresh guidance to broadcasters about pop videos, having done a bit of research amongst parents:
regarding music videos, of all the parents surveyed, the main concerns were:Ofcom had surveyed 1,024 parents - it's worth noting that only 11% had actually said they were worried about music videos in the first place, fewer than had worries about soaps, films or reality programmes; and more were worried by violence than sex (20% against 17%).
sexually explicit content (6 per cent)
and overtly sexual performances (6 per cent),
followed by offensive language (5 per cent),
nakedness/naked body parts (5 per cent)
and generally unsuitable content of a sexual nature (4 per cent).
They'd also asked a smaller selection of teenagers (768):
just under a quarter (23 per cent) said they had seen something on TV before the watershed in the previous 12 months that had made them uncomfortable or they had found offensive;After reminding broadcasters about observing the watershed for all programming, Ofcom turns to music videos:
• the top five concerns measured as a percentage of all teens questioned were:
sexually explicit content (7 per cent), offensive language (4 per cent), violence (4 per cent), nakedness/naked body parts (2 per cent), news (1 per cent) and
animals being killed/mistreated (1 per cent); and
• the genres of programme causing most concern measured as a percentage of all teens surveyed were: film (7 per cent), followed by soaps (6 per cent) and reality
TV (5 per cent). Music videos came fifth (4 per cent) after dramas (4 per cent). This was followed by documentaries (3 per cent) and news (2 per cent)
Ofcom recognises that music videos in the Urban and R&B genres in particular are well known for including mild sexual content and innuendo, and there will be a certain level of audience expectation for this type of content. However, having taken into account factors such as the strength of the images, the genre of music and the time of broadcast (looking particularly at whether the video was broadcast at a time when children were likely to be watching), broadcasters must consider whether potential audiences (including both adults and children) would expect to see such content.Did Ofcom just say 'well, you expect it with black music, don't you?'
But what about bondage, I hear you ask? Okay, maybe you're not asking, but apparently lots of people do:
Ofcom has been asked whether the Code restricts images of sexual bondage, dominance and sadomasochism in music videos before the watershed. The Code does not prohibit such images before the watershed.Seriously, Ofcom? There are broadcasters ringing you up saying "look, I've got a video here with a lass tied up, ball-gag in mouth, and a naked bloke spreadeagled getting whipped - is that okay for teatime?" They need extra guidance on that sort of question?
However we advise broadcasters to take into account the nature and length of shots used and the overriding theme of the music video. Before the watershed broadcasters should take care to avoid any explicit images of sexual bondage, dominance and sadomasochism in music videos, or any inappropriate cumulative effect resulting from the repetition of these types of images that are unsuitable for children and likely to cause concern to parents.
And, let's make it clear, your video is not going out dressed like that:
It is important to note that in pre-watershed content, Ofcom would not expect to see singers and dancers wearing clothing that does not adequately cover their bodies (in particular their breasts, genital area and buttocks). As above, broadcasters should consider the length of shots used and the overriding theme of the music videoNot entirely sure if Ofcom's use of "breasts" is because they don't realise men have them too, or if it's just trying to spare us yet another R&B singerbloke taking his shirt off.
Ofcom adds a warning that lyrics which might be double entendres when heard lose at least 50% of their entendre when slapped on screen with a simple-minded 'show what they say' video:
For example, the lyric “You want some more baby? I love the way you do it cos you do it so crazy” does not contain an explicit sexual reference,There are also some reminders about dancing. You'd have thought that the rules about sex would have been the same whether someone was jiggying in tune to the music or not, but Ofcom thinks there's a category of dancing that is lewd of itself. Perhaps it saw Dirty Dancing, but left during the interval.
is ambiguous in its meaning, and is unlikely to be understood by children as specifically referring to sex. However, when combined with clear, sexualised images (for example, women in sexual positions) the strength of the material is raised in terms of its potential to cause offence and concern to parents.
And, to wrap up, there's a reiteration that showing violence isn't all that cool.
It's all fairly sensible stuff, but has a massive "of course, they can go and see it on YouTube any time" hanging over it. It's not Ofcom's place to ask why we should just assume R&B videos will be fairly degrading to women, but perhaps they should prompt us all to ask the question.