[PRO] Commercializing youth sex

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[PRO] Commercializing youth sex

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Is pre-rating of music videos desirable?

*The Korea Media Rating Board started a pre-rating system for music videos last month. Because many music video files circulated through the Internet have sexual or violent content, concerns arose that they are having a negative impact on Korean youth. The pre-rating system, therefore, was based on the revisions of relevant laws last December . The music community resisted the system by calling it outdated and unrealistic. Different opinions by a parents’ group and the music community are presented below.

Lascivious images encourage the society to commercialize youngsters as sexual products.

The Calvin Klein Jeans commercial featuring Brooke Shields, who was 15 years old at the time, created an enormous controversy in 1980. She looked longingly at the camera and said, “You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

It was an overnight sensation. The agency that created the ad was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on suspicions of encouraging prostitution of teenagers by casting a minor in the advertisement. It was fiercely criticized by parts of the public. Other parts seemed to like it: The jeans sold an average of two million pairs a month.

Thirty years have passed, and music videos in Korea are using the exact same marketing technique. Music videos that are rated unfit to be aired by broadcasters are phenomena on the Internet, attracting countless numbers of clicks and advertised with come-ons like, “How sexual was it?” Our youngsters are exposed, sucked in and consumed in this out of control commercialization of sex.

Our group recently monitored erotic and violent video clips, including music videos. Parents who participated in the monitoring were shocked at what they saw. They said it was like sending your youngsters to the red light districts. “Our five-year-old daughter was mimicking a dance of a famous girl group that uses sensual moves of the waist and hips, and my husband was frightened,” a mother said.

It was reported that 88 percent of the suggestive films with children in them are recorded by the children themselves. Children mimic what they see in music videos posted on the Internet without any rating for the proper viewing age.

Parents are paying particular attention to the music videos because they can be easily accessed through the Internet without adult age verification unlike movies, games and web cartoons. They can be viewed without any restrictions. Because they are consumed unconsciously during our everyday lives, the problem is serious.

That’s why we have raised the need to start the pre-rating of Internet music videos over the past years, and the laws were revised last year to begin the system in August.

That is the reality, but the industry resists the system, calling it an infringement upon the freedom of expression, a shackle on the music industry and an obstacle to the globalization of K-pop. They propose instead self-regulation by the industry. The creators of pop culture accessed by tens of millions of people every year have social and public responsibilities, but they ignore even the least of them.

On the portal site YouTube, you have to watch about 30 seconds of a commercial before viewing popular music videos. The industry complained that the three-second notice of a rating of a clip in the pre-rating system will make us a joke in the global market. But they have no opposition to commercials that delay viewing. That is an extremely lamentable attitude.

It is also a clear distortion of the truth to call the rating system an infringement on the freedom of expression or censorship. The rating system is a guideline for teenagers to judge and make a choice, and it is not a restriction.

The music industry triggered this situation on its own. After the industry felt slow growth, it began going after sex rather than paying more attention to enriching its content. Although concerns grew over sexual and violent music videos, it made no effort to tone it down. Quite the opposite, it highlighted the sexual attractiveness of the minors and commercialized them. That was why the National Assembly decided to revise the laws to begin the rating system. The industry shows no self-reflection.

Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.

*The author is president of Cyberparents on the Net.
By Lee Kyung-hwa
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