iTunes is at it again, showing way too much to those who are way too young. This week their number one video features guys in their speedos literally waggling their penises. (Yes, I just said “penis.” I wonder how many explicit-content blockers are going to block out my blog today for that?)
I’m sorry for my candid description, but there is really no other way to describe this video that many of our kids have been watching the last couple of weeks, and when I say “many of our kids”… I’m speaking lightly. This video is the number one downloaded video on iTunes right now, a video where they mean it when they say, “I’ve got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it.”
Check it out for yourself. Jump on iTunes. Look at the right side of the page where it says TOP CHARTS. Now click the MUSIC VIDEOS button to see the top 10 music videos. Currently #1 is the song, Sexy and I Know It, by LMFAO. Now click the play button if you dare.
That’s what many of our teenagers are doing. My own daughter Ashley was hanging with some friends last week and they all were gathered around a laptop watching this video (I tell that story and more about this particular song in this week’s Youth Culture Window article, “Sexy and I Know It”).
Here’s the kicker. This video is apparently “clean.” Let me show you what I’m talking about. Go back to iTunes front page and look to the right at the TOP CHARTS again. Click on MUSIC VIDEOS again. Now, just above where you just clicked MUSIC VIDEOS, click SEE ALL. You’ll now be on a page with a black background that has the top 200 music videos listed.
Notice that some of these music videos have the little red EXPLICIT box under the title. You’ll see the EXPLICIT label on Lil Wayne’s song How to Love and Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger. But interestingly enough, you won’t see an EXPLICIT box next to Sexy and I Know It.
I guess penis-waggling isn’t explicit.
That’s the trick. No nudity, no language= CLEAN.
Let me show you another example. (I’ll take you on the same tour I take parents through in my parenting workshops, like the one I’m teaching this weekend at a Grand Island church on Sunday near Buffalo, NY) . Look on that same page with the top 200 videos. Look at #8 right now, it’s currently (as I write this blog) Super Bass by Nicki Minaj. Notice the little box under the words Super Bass. What does it say?
This video goes as far as to tell us, and our kids, that this video is CLEAN. If you click on the video, the video page details that this song has CLEAN LYRICS. So click on the preview and watch 30 seconds of the video. You’ll see a bunch of girls dancing provocatively with their underwear showing. If you watch the whole video you’ll see them give a lap dance of sorts to some of the male dances.
I could go on. Like the #9 video (as I write this), Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night video, but I already blogged about the content of that song.
If you spent 10 minutes clicking through many of these “non-explicit” videos I think you’ll start to get a taste for what the world deems “clean.” The fact is, when our kids are watching videos like Gaga’s You and I or Perry’s Teenage Dream… they’re seeing casual sex with “no consequences” …extremely racy stuff, and all of it “non-explicit” because there’s no nudity and no language.
How Should We Respond?
We probably could get all upset at iTunes and demand better labels or even censorship… but let’s be honest… would this even be a problem if parents were setting boundaries and having regular conversations about what their kids are clicking on?
Sadly, many parents just don’t know what their kids are watching, listening to and clicking. I know this because every time I spend even 15 minutes at my parent workshop exposing them to the content on TV and iTunes, they always come up to me and say, “I had no idea!”
So what should parents do? (with links to more reading about these issues)
1. Parents need to realize that the world’s definition of acceptable and “clean” is probably a little skewed right now. Don’t let the world tell you what’s okay for your kids to watch. PG-13 doesn’t necessarily mean acceptable and Rated R doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.”
2. Parents need to become educated about the culture our kids live in. I try to help you with this with my parent workshops, this BLOG (subscribe for free) and our weekly YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW articles.
3. Parents need to not over-react, but respond in a reasonable and consistent dialogue with our kids about the media messages they are seeing and hearing.
Jonathan talks about this in much more detail in his parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.