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Recently, popular culture has seen itself receive an incredibly hyper-sexualized make-over. These sexualized actions need to be explored and identified as unacceptable before the younger generation see them as an ‘ideal’.


opular culture is the portal of all mainstream interests, from music to fashion to brands. It stems attention from all generations but especially those of a younger age; the future generation. The culture is widely accessible, from appearances on television, advertisements, chart shows, trends, articles and the internet. Now in 2013, the change in popular culture is dramatic! Covered with hyper-sexualized imagery, actions and personas, it is time to question what stage this became acceptable? The music industry is a strong element which popular culture revolves around. It represents a generation and their opinions but it also influences both the current and future generation. Music represents fashion, photography and now more than ever, videos. With video sharing sites such as VEVO and YouTube, music videos are highly accessible to everyone whenever they want. Increasing video budgets and competition to who has the ‘most views’ has lead to videos having as much importance as the songs they are representing.

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Banned within 10 minutes from VEVO, was Rihanna’s ‘Pour it up’ video which sees her continually gyrating and ‘twerking’ on a throne in a diamante bra and denim thong surrounded by floating dollars and multiple pole dancers. The camera work, make up and visuals should not to be dismissed, creatively it is a great video but why there was such extreme sexualization? Is sex and controversy what we aim for to be successful and generate the ‘most views’? Winner of the first ever AMA Icon Award, Rihanna, whether she encourages it or not, is looked up to by youngsters and therefore, sustains a power over a generation. ‘Freshers week’ is the popular party week for all young new students joining their university. At Leeds Mez club, a promotional video for an event night called ‘Freshers Violation‘ featured male clubbers talking about how they were going to ‘violate‘ other students. The presenter asked students in the venue, ‘How are you going to violate a fresher tonight?‘ one replied saying ‘I’ve got one with me who’s just disappeared... there she is!‘ the

presenter continues //“IT IS IMPORTANT TO ASK to ask ‘and what you going to do to her?‘ HOW ‘TAKING ADVANTAGE he replies ‘Well, she’s OF SOMEONE’ CAN BE SEEN paying for the cab, she’s paying for the AS MORE ACCEPTABLE THAN drinks... and she’s ‘VIOLATION’?” going to get raped‘. Another student stated ‘Violate is a very strong word, I’m going to take advantage of someone‘. The presenter disgustingly continued on to ask questions such as ‘How are you going to bring girls back to your little den?‘ This highlights the already concerning affect of hypersexualized culture not only on girls, but the affect on guys too. As shocking as the term ‘violation’ is, it is important to ask how ‘taking advantage of someone’ can be seen as more acceptable than ‘violation’? The fact of the matter is, neither are acceptable actions! The scarily casual use of the word ‘rape’ is also a major concern alongside descriptions such as ‘little den’, which sounds more like a rapists fantasy rather than the reality of a nightclubs promotion video. The internet surrounds our lives in this current decade. We freely upload our lives to social networking, from our meals to our ‘selfies’, we parade ourselves on a grounding of hashtags. We absorb ourselves in not only giving to the internet, but taking. The wide accessibility which the internet has, gives us the ability to seek anything we not only desire, but need. The internet is now part of every day life and to the younger generation it is not something special or amazing, it is simply there; a part of their life. Smart phone app, Instagram is a photo sharing app used by brands, companies, the general public and celebrities. Users can follow their celebrity idols and have access to their life through photos they have taken. Stars such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus total a combined 16 million followers and achieve thousands of likes, resulting in their images making it to the ‘popular page‘ and being displayed on every

Instagram users page without a choice. With no censored or controlled imagery, sexualized imagery is not only easily found but put into our view without our consent. The certainty of gaining exclusive access to their idols results in, according to Instagram’s community guidelines, children as young as 13 having this App. As youngsters always have, they want to be part of a hype, they want to follow and know what is ‘popular‘ and without fail, will be inspired by these images. The results found on our survey showed that, both male and females between the age of 17-20 believed that Rihanna’s Pour It Up video was acceptable and should not have been banned, with 100% describing it as ‘amazing’. Yet, when asked on their thoughts of Miley Cyrus, 33.3% described her as ‘disgraceful’ and 66.6% as ‘extreme’, carrying on to describe her recent sexualized VMA performance as both ‘awful’ and ‘shocking’. So, why is it acceptable for Rihanna but not for disgraceful Miley? Is it because of Miley’s career history as an innocent Disney child star which makes us so shocked? Or are we blinded by Rihanna’s ‘iconic’ status and unable to see the hyper-sexualization behind her work? Moving on to the topic of whether hyper-sexualization is acceptable within popular culture, 66.6% agreed that it was unacceptable and was having an effect on the younger generation. Modern popular cultures recent hyper-sexualization trend is affecting all young ages, from fresher students to 13 year olds. The concern lies with the future generation, if this recent sexualized culture is already affecting how 18 year olds filter and react to not only imagery but real life events, how much is it affecting the next generation who are surrounded by sexualization a lot more at a younger age? Will they filter explicit imagery at all? Will they stop to say ‘no, this is unacceptable’? We need to address this situation and allow the future generation see the difference between fantasy and reality.

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