Music Marketing

Lady Gaga: The Pornification of Popular Music

And How Kindie Music Creates New Opportunities.

Is Lady Gaga poisoning children’s minds? Daily Mail columnist Bel Mooney seems to think so. In researching claims made by music producer Mike Stock that that pop culture is 'sexualizing' youngsters; Mooney sat down to watch some of the Miss Gaga's videos on YouTube and was appalled at the undertones of violence and sexual acts that she found. She argues that commercial pressure has pushed Gaga into a world of spectacle unlike any other, because in order to stay viable and keep selling her music; Gaga must continue ‘upping the ante’ or risk falling out of the spotlight. To which Mooney makes the interesting point that:

image from www.allgoodseats.comToday, a minute black leather thong, buttock tattoo, fishnets and leather jacket wouldn’t turn a hair. Cher and Madonna were the ‘mothers’ of this pop-porn chic. But how sad that nowadays if you’re a pop star  you feel you have to ape the clothes and gestures of the down-market glamour model—the cheaper the better. Female singers seem to think that the only way to sell their albums is to flash their gussets, while looking mean, vacant and up for it.”

In a follow-up piece, another Daily Mail writer concurred with Stock’s claims and Mooney’s findings, saying that after seeing Rihanna on stage a few nights later; she too became alarmed at the degree to which the singer was willing to push the envelope and blatantly assimilate sexually suggestive moves on stage. These assertions about the pornification of popular culture remind me of the arguments that journalist and author Chris Hedges made in his fantastic book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. In it, Hedges wrote a chapter on how rapidly porn has evolved within the public and commerical sphere:

image from has evolved from the airbrushed misogyny of glossy spreads in Playboy and the smutty films sold in seedy shops. It is corporate and easily available… Porn has evolved to its logical conclusion. It turned women into sexual commodities and then killed women as human beings. And it has won the culture war. Pornography and the commercial mainstream have fused.”

Earlier, Mooney writes that, “what was once rebellious is now mainstream and inescapable; what was once suggestive is now graphically explicit—and, most worryingly of all, it’s being aimed at a fan base that is getting younger and younger.” Curiously, regular readers of Hypebot know that parents don’t need to get out their pitch forks, light any fires, or burn any pop idols at the stake just yet—even if they want too. Amidst all of this talk about how the record industry is inadvertently marketing sex to kids, there's another cultural counterforce gaining momentum called kindie music, billed as "children's tunes by independent artists with the indie sensibility." As a result, in contrary to the contentions made above, it has been argued that the golden age of kids’ music is upon us. Therefore, parents have more options and there's a huge opportunty for artists who'd like to buck the trend and drown out the pornification of popular music with great tunes.

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  1. What’s especially interesting is that what all these pop-porn acts have in common is major label money. Shareholders just want to see profits, they don’t care if that’s through poisoning kids.
    I mean, this is a system that LITERALLY POISONS CHILDREN around the world, from lead paint to fields full of our discarded e-waste in Africa, India and China.

  2. I think that literally poisoning children is bad. However, I also think that after a kid is 14 (probably one of Gaga’s core demos), they should be exposed to more sex, but less violence. That’s why I support Katy Perry over Lady Gaga. Let our children experience sex as a beautiful, passionate thing, rather than something depraved, like the Alejandro video (which was an utter mess of a video anyway).
    Let’s all be Bonobos. If American society had a European attitude toward the human body and natural human hormonal activity, we’d be absurdly less hypocritical, and far happier. Bel Mooney needs to get over herself.
    Actually, let’s just feed our kids Kurt Rosenwinkel and be done with it.

  3. A (female) friend wrote in the mid-1980s that “MTV is softcore porn, but it’s pretty good softcore porn…” Only 25 years ago, so long ago that MTV still showed mostly music videos.

  4. That’s the draw of the music biz, rebellion is the fabric of the people that populate it, no one forced Lady Gaga or Madonna to form their image this way, it’s part of who they are and their expression of their inner self. Perhaps Bel Mooney should don a leather catsuit more often herself.

  5. Creating and playing music is a creative process, but the important part is it is undertaken by creative people. Creative people, all through history, provide glimpses into beauty, endevour, passion, joy, despair, love and all manner of follies.
    One very important function of art is the holding of a mirror to society, whenever and wherever that society may be. The Daily Fail, as usual, wants to shoot the messenger.

  6. My problem with it, aside from the message that it might send to kids, is that at some point there is nothing left to show. Or how much more unusual do the images have to be to shock? The threshold gets higher and higher each year, so is it going to get really really sexually weird in the future? Does the pendulum ever swing back or are we going for more and more extreme expressions of sexuality? Will there be any taboos at all?

  7. This is such a double standard. As a woman and a feminist I admire what Lady Gaga has done with her music and her image. In the footsteps of artists like Cher and Madonna, they have taken back the power of the patriarchal music business and made it their own. Granted Gaga can be seen as provocative but people have to realize society is changing and calling this act rather shift in the consciousness of the business world “poisoning children” is a bit dramatic. Sexualizing children is not something that should happen but in a world where kids are playing violent video games and watching TV where the norm is sex and drugs on cable channels this argument is stupid.
    Aside from any logical argument I love Lady Gaga. I think her tenacity and image helps make those who are different or outside of the societal norms feel welcome. People always make a fuss about something that is different from them. I say let your freak flag fly.

  8. Furthermore, the moral high society needs to look in their own back yard before criticising the very people that they counselled badly and forced to turn away. You only have to look at the recent news stories that have surfaced about the leaders of one of the oldest faiths to see that on a scale of 1 to 10 the music business is far from the corrupters of children…

  9. I think its interesting that they are saying that the only way that acts such as lady GaGa can stay relevant is to ” up the ante” then turns around and says that the things that Madonna and Cher were doing 20 years ago wouldn’t turn heads nowadays, which is probably true in and of itself. However they seem to be ignoring what the context of these acts are. I remember hearing the SAME arguments about Madonna and Cher, that they would have to continually “up the ante” in order to stay relevant, that they were, indeed poisoning the minds of children AAAAHHHHH it was the end of civil society as we knew it!!! All because these wild women were tattooing there butts, burning crosses, and wearing no pants with their fishnet stockings. This argument is cyclical just like that acts that it is disscussing. I’m not trying to critisize anyone here, just pointing out that these acts have come along before, they will come along again and it seems that there will always be soemone out there that wants to pin the downfall of societty on these types of artists. Now I know that this was not an article about censorship at all, but these discussions usually head off in that direction esspecially when it comes to “protecting the children from mind posioning artists.” If we as a society are truly worried about “over sexuallizing” our youth. Then its real easy to fix this problem. Turn your TV off. dont buy the albums for your kid. As a parent you have an enourmouse amount of influence over the type, amount and content of media that your child absorbs. Now, I understand we’re constantly being inundated with sensory overloaded content and its a lot of work to keep your child from seeing these images. I’m not saying that its easy, I’m saying that its part of the parents job. There are people out there that view these displays as art, or at least they like it. Instead of trying to Gag the creative process and the artists manifesting it, excersise your ability steer the development of your child if you don’t like something, Hit mute, turn off the radio or TV, but don’t infringe on the people that are choosing to like it by trying to paint it in the tired argument that “it is corrupting the youth , therefore we must destroy it.”
    I mean really, look what happened to Socrates.
    ( the author of this post did not know Socrates and is is in no way attempting to draw a parallel between said ancient philosopher and any current pop act.)

  10. How come no one talks about the fact real porn, nakedness, hardcore sex acts can all be seen online in thousands of places, with no age restrictions (is an i’m 21 button really going to stop a curious 13 year old?). You don’t think kids are seeing this stuff? It really surprises me that your allowed to post sex acts and nudity online without a credit card. Just click the i’m 21 button and you will see the actual thing, from violent sex to nudity, with plenty of free samples.

  11. With porn’s easy accessibility and overabundance in mass media, it has become necessary that parents tell their teenagers that if they want to use porn for pleasure, it is important to use it in a responsible manner only: with less pressure from their sex drive, it’s easier to focus for them on what they really want in a potential partner to share their life with – and it should become obvious to them rather quickly that this is something that cannot be found in porn at all. The cliches presented in the videos are just cliches, even if they are of the outrageous “do not try this at home” type.
    Yet, the world which the big music labels promote in their videos cannot be far removed from the world view of their labelheads – or can it?

  12. I never thought I could have the opportunity to see Gaga in concert since her concerts sell out quick. Thanks for offering me discounted Lady Gaga Tickets . I loved all her songs and what she wore. I loved ‘Poker Face,’ because we had to just start dancing to it, even though we were sitting so high up. Believe me, there is nothing like Lady Gaga show.

  13. I never thought I could have the opportunity to see Gaga in concert since her concerts sell out quick. Thanks for offering me discounted Lady Gaga Tickets. I loved all her songs and what she wore. I loved ‘Poker Face,’ because we had to just start dancing to it, even though we were sitting so high up. Believe me, there is nothing like Lady Gaga show.

  14. I think its interesting that they are saying that the only way that acts such as lady GaGa can stay relevant is to ” up the ante” then turns around and says that the things that Madonna and Cher were doing 20 years ago wouldn’t turn heads nowadays, which is probably true in and of itself.
    That’s the point. They did up the ante. So what comes next? Does the pendulum ever swing back or do we need more and more graphic images to create a buzz?

  15. Someone should put a music video out of a girl getting gang raped while singing her tune, and the group of racists can be the background singers and dancers…then at the end of the video they can beat her to death, then the cops show up with machine guns and kill the entire group, then a suicide-bomber plows into the cops and blows everyone to kingdom-come.
    Then, how would you top that? With Kim Jung Ill blowing up a nuclear bomb?
    I think the point is that parents are responsible for educating their children, if you leave it up to TV and the internet, they will all turn out like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton (but some parents might think thats a good thing, you never know). Keep in mind that the hippies back in the 60s were the ones dropping acid and getting stoned and naked in Golden Gate Park…now they are grandparents….so who’s really to blame here?

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