Media vs. Mums

A common moral panic that exists in today’s society is the allegation that the media is sexualising children. Society is putting the media at blame for the commercial exploitation of children and the sexualisation of images of young children, in catalogues, magazines, television shows and movies. The panics that are arising, develop from the issues of children being dressed in inappropriate clothing for their age, children being photographed in ‘adult’ poses and images of children containing sexual connotations.

One example of how the media is alleged to sexualise children is Toddlers and Tiaras, an American reality television show that “showcases the competitive world of child pageants, as three families have their children judged on beauty, personality and costumes.” Take a look at this video, a scene from an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras whilst keeping in mind how to media is blamed for the sexual exploitation of children.

After watching this video, do you really think it’s the media’s fault for the appearances and actions of these little girls? It seems to me that the parents are forcing the children to participate in these pageants, dolling them up to the nines, covering them with makeup to match their spray-tanned bodies, gluing in hair extensions, forcing the youngsters to sit still in a chair whilst their innocent baby faces are transformed into that of a 20-something-year-old. Seriously, these are children under the age of 5 we are talking about… So is the media the cause of the sexualisation and exploitation of these children? I think not. Who is really to blame here appears to be the mothers of the children in the pageants.

Children learn how to behave through the actions of adults. Little girls learn how to grow into adults by viewing how their mothers and other female adults behave. If the children grow up in an environment like the one depicted in Toddlers and Tiaras, covering up their natural appearances with everything from fake tans to fake teeth, they will be brought up believing this is a normal thing for females to partake in. Their sexualised exteriors will continue to unfold during their childhood as this is the way they have been taught to behave.

Every little girl loves to play dress ups and wear make-up and high heels. But is Toddlers and Tiaras just taking it too far? Or is the parents of the children who are the ones taking it too far. In this case, I believe it’s the latter. Society is blaming the media for media for the social panic of sexualising children, however in some scenarios, the problem evolves from somewhere a little bit closer to home, that being the very own homes of these children.

Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture, take a step back and think outside the box. Society is constantly accusing society of creating moral panics, but are they always the ones at fault?

Think about it.

– Sophie

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Riddled Racism

Public opinion is extremely prevalent in today’s society. People are feeling the need to more frequently voice their thoughts and views on issues that they feel are present in society. More often than not we hear of debate and protest arising due to controversial issues that are challenged by the media. One of the main issues that tends to spark great debate is racism.

“Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”

But how often do we hear of people being discriminative towards people of the own race? Not very often right? Well that exactly what Youtuber Neel Kolhatkar did in his video Australia in 2 Minutes. The video shows Neel imitating and exaggerating the stereotypes and actions of certain groups of people in Australia, which to some, comes across as being racist towards his own country.

The video was intended to be a humorous parody of the behaviours and characteristics of Australians, but turned out to be a text of great debate and controversy. Of course Neel didn’t create the video with the purpose to offend Australians and our culture. He simply and innocently took stereotypes present in our society, threw a bit of comedy and exaggeration into the mix, and addressed the racial issues present in Australia (that no one really talks about) in a clever and hilarious way.

However, not everyone saw the funny side to the video. With racism being such a prevailing topic in today’s society, offense to the video would naturally arise. Although not only did people become offended, those who were offended were being put down for merely not enjoying the video. A great debate rose in the comments on the video ranging from comments applauding Neel on his efforts, to people taking great offense and even people abusing others for being offended.

“I’m Australian and I find this racist”

“This is the perfect impression of us Australians”

“I never knew how offended Australians could get, I’m from Australia and I found this funny. It’s a f****** joke”

“I love this video! So accurate”

“Wow this is so offensive”

Even though Neel made this video with the intention of making his viewers laugh, the issue of racism is no laughing matter. To some, that was the connotation they perceived from the video. But if this video wasn’t made, and this ideology wasn’t challenged, would the debate still occur? I think not. It seems to me that debate and controversy arises only when ideologies are challenged by the media. If issues such as racism weren’t so exposed and highlighted by the media, the effects of racism on people would be much less.

Public opinion is always going to exist. People will always want their thoughts to be heard. But if the media didn’t put so much on emphasis on issues like racism, would it still be such a big problem?

Think about it.

– Sophie