As my son and I were flicking through television channels, we came across a re-run of The Two Ronnies.
“This is what I watched when I was your age. It was the big Saturday night show,” I informed Junior.
He nodded sagely as he began to laugh at the sketch of The Phantom Raspberry Blower. I laughed too until I noticed a woman’s bust beginning to inflate only to explode in her blouse! The next sketch involved men and women dancing in the street with the camera panning up the woman’s skirts. The big finale involved the two Ronnies dressed as folk singers singing a ditty about an attractive woman which ended in the words: “she was just a tart”, to which the audience fell about laughing. The show was made in 1976 and I couldn’t believe the sexist material it contained. I felt uncomfortable about my son viewing it, yet when I was a child this show seemed like innocent nonsense to me and my parents. Back then sexism on TV was rampant; I grew up thinking that was the norm. I now watch reruns of Top of the Pops open mouthed in awe as Pan’s People bump and grind wearing next to nothing. As a little girl growing up in the 1970s that is what I aspired to. I remember distinctly watching Cherry from Pan’s People and desperately wanting to be her.
I’m now horrified to think that was the height of my aspirations.
The BBC employed Pan’s People to dance to records when the artists couldn’t appear to perform them; there were few music videos then.
Many programmes from the 1970s are no longer aired on retro television channels. Programmes like It Ain’t half Hot Mum and Love Thy Neighbour aren’t shown because of their rampant racism, though the sexist 1970s programmes are still aired as their sexual inequality content is romanticised as nostalgia. Thank goodness times have changed for women, or have they really?
At least back then women were only showing off their bodies accompanied by a vacuous Marilyn Monroe style helpless female air. Fast forward to today and we have recording artists like Rhianna setting feminism back decades.
The singer recently released a graphic video of her latest song.
It makes for stomach turning viewing. The video’s story involves an accountant who has financially ripped Rihanna off. Rihanna then goes after the man’s wife, kidnaps the woman, strips her naked, subjects her to all manner of abuse ending in her death. She then targets the accountant who gets to keep all his clothes on but is tortured and dismembered. The ending sees a naked, blood-splattered, Rihanna amongst piles of cash. You’d think that possibly Rihanna was goaded into this by music boss executives but she reportedly came up with the kidnap idea herself and co-directed the video.
Numerous think pieces have appeared in the media discussing the meaning behind the video.
Many cool and trendy type writers are all for Rihanna and her ‘awesome’ video and think that those who criticise are behind the times and just don’t get what the artist is about.
Personally I don’t think the artist even herself understood what she was trying to portray in this grotesque video.
For a woman who has made her fortune and by no means needs to stoop to this level, it’s sad to see that she seems to be trying to shock and grab attention by degrading women. ‘Who would expect that from me in this male dominated industry’, she seems to be cleverly asking herself?
Somehow I doubt Rihanna would still have the impulse to make this rubbish if she were a mother, especially a mother of a daughter. Her fan base includes kids from the age of 11 upwards who will be able to view this video via various devices. It’s rather pathetic to watch a woman in a position to enforce the message of sexual equality, instead abuse and degrade another woman for fun in the name of ‘art’.
Somewhere behind her bad-girl shock mask she must think this is what is required of her to be viewed as a strong woman, How sad that she seems to be trying to exhibit the ruthless traits that she possibly suspects society requires a formidable woman to have; in reality she is probably a softer soul. It brings to mind Susan Brownmill:‘Women are all female impersonators to some degree.’