Debate rages around issue of sexed-up music videos

Annie Lennox speaks out against children being exposed to explicit music videos. Photo: ITV Tonight Programme

It’s early January 1984 and I’m fourteen years old. My younger and admittedly more music-savvy brother, who’s thirteen, arrives home with a copy of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’, which in a couple of weeks will get to number 1.

Dad takes one look at the record sleeve – asks my brother to hand over the receipt – and promptly gets it out of the house. Fast.

Now fast-forward nearly thirty years. That situation could barely arise.

On mobiles, on tablets, YouTube, Vevo, MTV – sexualised content is out there and instantly available; whatever your age, almost whether you want it or not.

And this year the hottest aspect of sexed-up music videos was the debate raging around it.

Whether it was Miley naked on her wrecking ball, Rhianna pole-dancing or Robin Thicke’s super-controversial explicit version of ‘Blurred Lines’ - a point seemed to have been reached where some felt the line was blurred no longer and enough was enough.

Annie Lennox was one of the first high-profile figure to call her own industry to account. In the Tonight programme which airs tonight, she gives me her first TV interview about the issue and she minces no words.

Personally I don’t think it’s appropriate that ...very young kids are exposed to entertainment in the form of pornography – and what am I saying that I think is pornographic?

I think it’s when – and I’m being specific, it’s when you stand simulating masturbation with your clothes on or off...or bending over with your derriere in the air and thrusting your pelvis – that’s pretty hardcore.

And from one of music’s most revered women – a call to all parents.

If you are a parent and you are really concerned and you say nothing and do nothing, then so be it. You have given your permission.

So what can parents who are concerned do about it?

For the first time, the producer of some of the most controversial videos this summer speaks to us to defend their work and their artists, we hear too from the record industry about what they claim to be doing to govern such content, and from mums and teenagers themselves, who like my brother, might be savvy – but admit such material does affect them.

And Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’? For those too young to remember, it was banned by Radio, it was number 1 for five weeks and stayed in the charts for a year – and made them a fortune.

  • Watch the Tonight programme ‘Pop, Sex and Videotape’ - Thursday, 7.30pm on ITV