To what extent does the modern media influence opinion on the abuse of children in art, photography and literature? Childhood is a multifaceted concept. Above all, most nobly, it is about innocence. The exultation’s of young people through a combination of razor sharp marketing, explicit lyrics, photo shoots and music videos together with a general coarsening of culture, must have an effect on the younger generation. Sex sells. And in a world where young girls who can barely walk are placed in high heels and playboy t-shirts, where supposed role models like Mille
Cyrus, are regularly seen in minimal clothing, gyrating, trekking and suggestively licking inanimate objects, there are arguments being put forward by parents that these images in the media, art and photography are harmful to children. While I myself do not have children, I do plan on having them and have spent some time in loco parent’s as a nanny; I feel this issue is an important one that needs addressing and something that as a society we need to discuss.
Over the years we have seen an increase in teenage drinking, sexual activity and other behavior that is less than innocent in the I-J. In a world where children are more vulnerable than ever, they are also more aware of their surroundings, which begs the question whether the radical behavior of the nations children is the fault of the media or the parents.
A staggering “one in five children aged five to seven are accessing the internet without supervision from a parent” and shockingly less than half of those have some kind of filtering software to prevent them accessing inappropriate and adult material 2. Everyone from doctors to teachers, the police to art critics and photo lab workers are mutinously on the look out, even subconsciously for anything even slightly of concern where children are involved.
Looking back throughout the time of photography being an art form readily available to the masses, almost every family has the innocent naked baby in the bath photos, which sit in a photo album that gets pulled out for cheap laughs, I know that I have photos from my time Nanning in Finland, some of which contain a naked 2 year old; however these albums are slowly becoming redundant as families are more aware of the potential dangers having these photos could cause.
With cases such as Baby UP and the Ian Watkins cases being in the public eye parents are rightly on their guard when it comes to children and young people who are unable to protect themselves. Parents are unsure if they should be taking the photos or sharing them with family and friends, as they fear being branded pedophilia if the photographs fall into the wrong hands. Celebrity and entertainment arguably shoulder a large amount of the responsibility for both desensitizing and heightening the sensitivity of parents to the on going exultation’s of music, television and apparel specifically aimed at their children.
While I strongly believe that children should be kept safe and protected from the people that would choose to do them harm, and I understand the tendency to reject any attempt to restrict access to certain content that as parents they deem harmful; I feel it is quite a bizarre concept to feel comfortable with young girls watching television shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and Teen Mom and listening to music like Robin Thicket’s “Blurred lines” the latter of which promotes a disturbing attitude towards sex and way you grab me, must want get nasty’. Instead of protecting children from the active images and influences in the media by refusing to accept and allow those aspects into their homes, society and the red top newspapers seem to be blaming Joe Oblongs, the pedophilia lurking on everyone street, poised ready to strike at any time or social services, a service that is over stretched and in my opinion greatly unappreciated. The same process is occurring in the world of art, and especially in photography.
Photographers are scared to use children in their work incase the finished product is deemed inappropriate and they are consequently branded and shamed as perverts. This is a long running and complicated issue; throughout the past 20 or so years, the exultation’s of children has become a hot topic with the works of photographers such as Sally Manna, Bill Hansson and Nan Gilding being brought under the gaze of questioning eyes.
In the autumn of 1992 Sally Man’s traveling exhibition “Immediate family’10 showing images taken between 1984 and 1991 , showed the complex childhood of her three children, Jessie, Emmet and Virginia in tremendous detail; the children were often naked or partially naked as they played and posed in the landscapes surrounding their home in rural Virginia. Unaware of the controversy and attention the images would generate, to Mann, the images were tender and maternal photographs of her children. However to art world outsiders, her work was branded child pornography.
The images show the sensuous, beautiful and sometimes disturbing side of childhood. One of the photos proved too much for some people was one titled “Popsicle Drips” which shows her son’s torso and upper thighs stained with a blood like substance, the title and potentially worrying nature of the smears did little to dispel the sense of provocation. From my years spent studying hydrotherapy, I am extremely familiar with Man’s work and I actually adore this series of work. The photos are sometimes dark and brooding, and about as sexual as a piece of wet cardboard.
Even “Popsicle Drips” in my mind, did not hint at anything sexual so it is quite alien to me that others find it inappropriate. Man’s images of her children are beautifully shot and composed. There is not a hint of forced sexuality in any of the photographs. They are shot as children to be seen as children and not as sexual objects. The photographs show the intimacy of a family life, and he relationship between the siblings and with their mother. Some of the photographs show the half naked children in everyday settings such as the garden, around the house and generally being children.
The children’s faces show a great deal of emotion, a brooding sense of self awareness is displayed through the arms across their bare chests. Mann decided not to publish the book, but that decision was met with anger from her children; Which I understand because I was in the shoes of Emmet, Virginia or Jessie, I too would be angered by my mother not standing up for her work and sharing it with the world. Literature is no stranger to these issues either,with books like Nabobs critically acclaimed novel ‘Elliot’ and with and J.
M Barriers 14. Carroll is almost as well known by the rumors surrounding his relationship with the Lidded children, specifically Alice, the muse for his astonishingly popular ‘Lice’s adventures in wonderland’ and ‘Through the looking glass and what Alice found there’ as is is for the stories themselves. For more than 100 years for the tales of Alice, shows no sign of dying away. But mid 19th century Britain is a far cry from contemporary western culture, and things are not seen in the same light.
Carroll entered the scene hot on the heels of Blake, Dickens, Coleridge and Tennyson, all of whom helped replace the 18th century idea of the sinful child with the 19th century glorification of the child, especially little girls as a symbol of purity and innocence. The media is massively influencing the way we live our lives and our judgment on the world around us. As a populous, we are spoon fed half baked news stories and take them at face value and do not research anything into it. The representation of people, especially children in Hollywood matters, in music it eaters and in literature it matters.
They shape the lens through which you see the world. You may think they do not matter and even right now you are resisting the idea. That is what makes this so dangerous; you watch films or read novels so you can turn off your brain and let your guard down, but while your guard is down, the media is Jacked directly into that part of your brain that creates your mythology. When I think about it, all these outside influences in the media are having an effect on almost everyone on a subconscious level, I can not imagine the effects it is having on children.