On New Years eve like many I was at home with an M&S £20 dinner and the TV
As the evening wore on we strayed onto C5…..which is more than a rarity in our house, but true to form it was charting the Top 100 Party Bangers and it’s always fun to look back and reminisce
It occurred to me mid seat-bopping to Wham that as a teenager I didn’t think about some of the messages being emitted as part of the 70s and 80s chart toppers. Was I ignorant, naïve or both? Or did we as a society not worry about ‘non-PC’ back then??
Well actually we did because whilst sexism and misogyny passed unnoticed Frankie’s Relax was banned by the BBC in 1983 for being offensive and overtly sexual. Man on man was a no go but men and boys harassing and sexualising women and girls was fine.
I was 14 when Grease arrived on the silver screen and like many kids of the day, I loved the movie. It was rated PG back then and nowadays the content is referred to as racy or sexist depending on the source.
Grease Lightening, released in 1978, only 5 years ahead of Frankie’s’ Relax, celebrated a car as a ‘real pussy wagon’ where the male occupants would be ‘getting lots of tit’ because the ‘chicks’ll cream’. This was the same film where boys lifted girls’ skirts for fun, and the female protagonist felt it necessary to sexualise herself, turn to smoking and be prepared to ‘put out’ to get her guy. Female emancipation anyone?
In 1982 Dexy’s Midnight Runners had thoughts ‘verging on the dirty’ whilst chasing a teenage Eileen down the street imploring her to take off everything in C’mon Eileen. Sexual harassment was accepted back then as part of the pairing process. I know from experience that type of behaviour and expectation was normal…just boys being boys
Later in 1986 The Police released Don’t Stand too Close to me. A song about unconsummated teacher/pupil lust, which refers in the lyrics to the novel Lolita. The apparent glorification of school-girl grooming by a Global band also passed without comment.
Robert Palmers iconic video Addicted to Love also released in 1986 resorted to using models to objectify women, presumably because there were no sufficiently hot female musicians around at the time. Dressed as sex dolls in short black dresses, high heels and scarlet lipstick the models pouted and strummed their instruments robotically (pun intended) without emotion….just what every man wants from a woman then.
Who knew C5 could be such an eye opener!
It’s not my intention to suggest everyone should bin their vinyl. I don’t support cancel culture and I’d still watch Grease on a rainy Sunday afternoon. But I do wonder if I sleep-walked through the 2 decades responsible for normalising the inappropriate and violent behaviour towards women that is so prevalent today.
I have no idea what topped the Vodafone download charts in 2022 perhaps we are in a more enlightened age. Or will we in years to come look back at the music of the last 20 years and hang our heads in disbelief because we unwittingly condoned misogynistic lyrics and messages?