Dad, isn’t that Kellie from Hi-5? What’s she wearing?
KELLIE from Hi-5 has always been a favourite at our place. The kids also seem to like her. But at the risk of sounding like the Reverend Fred Nile, I’m a bit disappointed with her semi-clad efforts on the pages of Ralph.
Not angry. Not suggesting the photos should be banned, nor pretending that I didn’t have a discreet squizz at them like many other dads. Not questioning her right as a 34-year-old woman to engage in some entry-level eroticism to avoid being pigeon-holed as a cheesy children’s entertainer. Just annoyed that I might find myself having a conversation with our six-year-old daughter which begins: “Dad, isn’t that Kellie from Hi-5?”
The woman shouldn’t be crucified for doing what she did and the reaction from family groups and feminists to her shoot has been over the top.
Women’s Forum Australia spokeswoman Melinda Tankard Reist described the photos as an “abuse of her position with tens of thousands of little girls looking up to her”, as if from here to eternity Kel should be quarantined to a life of G-rated entertainment despite no longer being a member of the children’s group. But Tankard Reist was on the money when she said the problem was that Kel’s appearance on the cover was “particularly problematic because magazines like Ralph are on shop shelves at kiddy eye level”.
We have a distribution and classification system which allows mags such as Ralph to be displayed at the same height as the Chupa-Chups.
It’s here that it becomes an issue for parents who are trying to carve a smut-free path for their kids through the early stages of life.
It is almost impossible to watch an hour of television, almost impossible to walk into a newsagent, without having your kids exposed to some form of salacious content.
The chief culprit is sex advertising - and the regulation of sex advertising.
You can monitor your kids’ internet use, monitor what they watch on TV, be mindful of the type of programs you watch in front of them but advertising provides the left-field surprises in the form of ads for men’s magazines, phone sex, erectile dysfunction, longer-lasting sex, mobile downloads for six Russian babes and so on.
The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau has an excellent website which lists every complaint it receives on a month-by-month basis and whether they have been upheld or dismissed.
Some of it makes hilarious reading, especially when the more starch-shirted prudes tie themselves into knots identifying moral turpitude in the strangest of places.
Last month the AASB dismissed an unusual complaint against Kimberley-Clark over its Huggies advertisements, about which a viewer thundered “it is just not right to use underage children” in the advertisements raising the vastly more troubling spectre of adult nappy enthusiasts being enlisted for the job.
Another complainant, probably from one of those tedious men’s rights groups, had a humourless and fruitless whinge against Fernwood’s women-only gymnasiums over a billboard featuring a couple of Swiss exercise balls headed: “The only balls you will find at Fernwood Health Club”.
But a number of parents spoke for all of us with their complaints about our sleazy friends at the Advanced Medical Institute, whose latest piece of tackle-related technology promises to deliver that toe curling, sheet-shredding climax you have been longing for.
The AASB summarised the (many) complaints as follows, complete with angry typos and crazy punctuation:
“Not only do I have to be careful while listening to radio stations in my car when my children are with me (since when has it been ok to openly advertise these products in front of kids!!!) but now they actually show them on TV!!!!! I am no prude, but I dont wish to watch tv with my 13 yr old son and have to switch over when these ads come on! From listening to them on the radio I have already had to dodge many questions from my 10 yr old daughter whos asked “What is premature ejaculation?” or “What is an erection mummy?”!!!!!!!!!! Can these ads not be shown later after say 10.30pm? Children have enough sex etc thrown at them these days on tv etc. Is there no boundaries? Will 13, 14 yr olds now be worrying about these things as well as dealing with puberty?????? Please put them on later!!!!!!”
Hear, hear to all of the above.
The glib response from the Advanced Medical Institute is that of a company with a detailed knowledge of the guidelines and a limited regard for the interests of families and kids: AMI’s pay-TV advertisement is rated M . . . the advertisement is only run when programs of the same or higher rating are run. In relation to free-to-air television this restricts the times at which the M-rated advertisements are run to between noon and 3pm during weekdays (excluding school holidays) and after 8.30pm.
They’re technically correct because the advertising guidelines are predicated on the false presumption that kids and teenagers are never awake after 8.30pm and ignore the fact there are thousands of kids almost of primary school age at home between noon and 3pm.
Disappointingly, the AASB bought this line of argument and made the following point in dismissing the complaint: Whilst the advertisement portrays issues of sex and sexuality, we submit that it does so with the appropriate level of sensitivity having regard to the relevant audience ordinarily watching TV at this program time zone and rating.
The logical flaw with this is that, unless Australia’s parents are somehow imagining their kids have seen these grotty ads, the “relevant audience watching TV at this program time” must include a whole stack of youngsters.
None of us are going to march down the street about this but it’s seriously irritating. The thing that puzzles me is the AASB’s website contains nothing specifically on sexual advertising but has two special sections on alcohol and “junk” food, which says more about the effectiveness of the health lobby than any parent-led mass movement against Tooheys’ sponsorship of State of Origin or the unmatchable evil of Happy Meals.
Kids can get through those ads without pestering you for a beer or burger - awkward questions come from the ads they’re not protected from.
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