My stance on the “Watershed” discussion

Categories Society, Television

I’ve been bombarded over the past week with news stories about the so called “scandalous” sexualisation of British children through media. Shows such as the Xfactor and some music videos contain some content which is so raunchy it is actually considered by some as “soft-core pornography”. Also in the firing line are high street stores which allegedly sell “sexualised” clothing aimed at young girls (something I can attest to having worked in a well know high street store). Additionally there are plans to restrict pornographic content by selling new computers with parental controls already enabled to restrict unwanted websites.

This final proposal is the one that worries me the most. It is a very dangerous line that is crossed when the government starts forcefully restricting the content that consumers can receive on the web. Restrictions such as these get very close to freedom of speech violations as the government can now moderate the greatest forum for freedom of speech that ever existed. What next? Are they to block sites which speak out against Western ideals? This is all after Iran was denounced for proposing that it should moderate it’s own internet to avoid the influence of the West.

The fact is that parents should be able to decide what’s best for their children. By introducing these measures the government is telling the nations parents that they don’t think they are up to the job of raising children in a “socially acceptable” way. Scenes that appear on the Xfactor and other shows which are branded as “raunchy” do not contain nudity so to call them porn is an over-reaction. Additionally, the time at which these scenes are shown should allow the children who are of the age to be influenced by scenes of this nature to be in bed, asleep.

Parents who permit their children to watch these programmes at these times should accept responsibility in explaining the scenes to their children in a way that the children understand what is and what isn’t acceptable in society. They should not be calling up organisations such as Ofcom because they feel they need to ruin someone else’s television viewing. At the end of the day, different people are going to have different views as to what is acceptable to watch on television but for those people who find the raunchy scenes in some programmes unacceptable there are different channels on television which show more moderate content. If you aren’t happy with the Xfactor then go and watch something educational such as a documentary with your children and broaden their horizons. Reality shows are a rot on their brain anyway without adding in sexualisation so there is no need to watch them.

This sort of reasoning is even clearer in the case of high street stores. I understand that sexualised clothing is ridiculous and in some cases disgusting but do people have to buy it? No. If people didn’t buy it then it wouldn’t be sold by these stores and the very fact that people buy it means that some parents find it acceptable in society. Who is the government to say what people’s children should or should not be wearing.

I don’t know why some people and media outlets are so desperate for the government to restrict our freedoms and personal choice. It’s an incredibly scary thought for me.

Currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Annes College, Oxford University. I have a keen interest in applied economics, food and most types of sport.

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