Sunday 6 October 2013

Opinion: Much ambivalence on sagging trousers, mini skirts and performance nudity

A lap dancing video
I was in bar one evening where a big screen was playing back MTV videos with no volume and it got me thinking.
A number of chart toppers; if only people were more like me; came on screen and the whole performance looked like a visit to a lap-dancing joint; pouting, wiggling, shaking and flaunting with reckless flirtatious zest. Even if the volume were turned up, it would have made no difference to the distraction of over-sexualising the demonstration that the musical element was completely lost.
Then there was that performance on one of those many reality television embarrassment shows where she appeared with her all her clothes on, surprisingly, well, until she was showered with water on stage – the rest is history.
Abusing the function of apparel
The matter of apparel or the absence of it does excite debate, I am usually befuddled by sagging trousers exposing cack-ridden underwear accentuated by the dawdling like a duck gait that otherwise agile young men adopt to keep the trousers from falling below the knees, you should see them run.
Out in Hungary, a university has enforced a conservative dress code that has created a revolt, as some students attended class literally naked in protest – we risk diving headlong into ignominy the moment we begin to regulate mode of dressing predicated on some conservative viewpoint.
Some societies set out their moral barometer through the strict regulation of women in society paying no regard to the equal responsibility of men to just as well behaved.
Between music and lewdness
Then at the risk of ambivalence losing balance in the discourse, we are presented with the transition of Miley Cyrus into adulthood, a maturity expressed by throwing caution to the winds in sexualising performances as well as some nudity to boot.
However, when she suggested one of her raunchy videos drew inspiration from Sinead O’Connor. The press then assailed Sinead with questions, which led to this open letter to Miley.
Many arguments can be made for the freedom of expression, pride in one’s sexuality, the licence to take licence and not be castigated across the board for sagging trousers, banning mini-skirts or swinging on a wrecking ball in the nude licking a hammer.
Breaking the wrong rules
However, we must be careful that our exuberance does not lead us down the road to ruin, and with that, I pitch my tent with those who suggest a modicum of modesty, moderation and restraint.
It is important that the core talent one has in not overshadowed by tawdry and lewd expression except where one’s stock in trade is the display of such for titillation and suggestiveness.
Whilst rules are sometimes meant to be broken, the ones we choose to break should be done with serious consideration and awareness of consequence.
This is where the advice contained in Sinead O’Connor should not go unheeded, it is really good advice, though it is arguable that it was poorly offered.
Decency is a leveller
Decency becomes the watchword, underwear being under the clothes, skirts long enough to cover the detail even though some might be persuaded of shortening it to keep the interest and let musicians just be musicians – we need to differentiate between selling music as talent and selling sex to push the talent.
I would hate to regulate dressing, it is a free world but if in the performance of high art we need to appeal to the lowest common denominator, maybe it is not high art after all.

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