RPC welcomes a pilot scheme to add age classifications to online music videos. The scheme comes into operation this Friday 3rd October and it will initially run for three months. The pilot scheme only applies to artists assigned to UK labels however, and signing up for it is voluntary. To date YouTube, the music video service Vevo, and three of the biggest labels in the UK – Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers – have all agreed to take part. The scheme was proposed by David Cameron in August as part of a governmental strategy to help parents protect their children from graphic sexual content online. Cameron warned of the dangers of allowing the internet to become ‘some sort of lawless space’ and said the rules for online videos should be brought into line with content bought offline. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the same body which rates films and DVDs, will decide which videos warrant an age rating. The age classification goes alongside the proposal for making family-friendly filters the default setting for all new online customers, and forcing existing customers to make an active choice about whether to install them.
However there is usually a law of unintended consequences that accompanies any action. UK companies for example may take the opportunity to produce even more provocative videos than before as long as they confine themselves to the proper rating. More importantly, whilst giving the appearance of being pro-active in protecting children from sexualized culture, the government is let off the hook of intervening into the real problem. Despite Cameron’s protestations, the internet is a lawless global space where sexually explicit material that degrades women is readily available to children, if not in the home then certainly outside it. Also, in pushing the issue of sexualized music videos and the ready availability of pornography and sexual violence towards women into a child safety arena, the government can ignore the major issues for women’s equality that they pose. RPC maintains that if living in a highly sexualized culture which routinely objectifies women is not good for children, the chances are it’s not good for women either!