I must be getting old or something, I certainly think my brain works differently. Today the newspapers were full of the story of how teeny pop star Justin Bieber got booed because he was late going on stage. The angle most people were taking was that this was just another reason to take aim at him. My thoughts immediately turned to the fact that his target audience are mainly pre-teenage girls and what on earth were they doing at a concert after 10pm on a weeknight? Now if you are looking for a post bashing this pop star then you are in the wrong place, most of the ludicrous and aggressively negative press seems to me predicated on success envy. It is the sort of thing I don’t engage in, I am though concerned with the exploitation of children and the destruction of childhood that the aggressive marketing of “baby” pop idols links in to.
I am not one of those people who things that we should preserve some 1950’s ideal in aspic and that modern 10 year olds should be either in short trousers with a cap or gingham dresses with two roughly tied bunches. Life has moved on from then, but perhaps it has moved a little too far when young girls are being enticed into concert going in such a manner. I just don’t think that it is appropriate for young children or younger teenagers to be out as late as concerts finish on a school night. Of course ultimately that is a judgment that the parents of the child have to make but it is very hard on parents not to mention the children involved given the excess peer pressure that will build up. I am pretty certain that the marketing teams behind teeny pop acts are fully aware of this peer and nag pressure and in fact I’m not too sure they don’t actively seek to exploit it. Ultimately 9 and 10 year old girls cannot possibly have their own means of purchasing the music and associated paraphanalia that go with modern pop acts, and so it is the parents money that is being used often after copious amounts of pressure from the kid. I am not sure this mechanism by which children are assisted in gaining excess leverage over parents is healthy myself.
The problem is that the genie is now out of the bottle, and we won’t get it back in. What on earth business is it of a 9 or 10 year old to be at a pop or rock concert? At that age I doubt I would have been allowed, certainly not until so late on a school night. It would not have been deemed appropriate. Then there are the associated issues, such as the fact that the stars that the industry push are human. Justin Bieber is a young man finding his way in the world, and yet there are legions of fans who will follow his every move, haircut, hand gesture etc. What are the young fans to make of images of him partying into the wee small hours? He is perfectly entitled to do whatever he likes, but the fans are far too young to understand the nuances of an adult life. What if he starts smoking or doing narcotics? Here is a kid himself thrust into the position of role model when he himself is too young to take on such a role (if anyone is ever mature or prepared enough) and whose fans are certainly too young to not differentiate between the various aspects of his life. I think it is a collossal shame that we have got to the point where we seem to have such callous disregard for the potential damage that marketing teenage pop stars to pre-teenage audiences could do. Finally primary school age children should be at home and in bed at gone 10pm on a Monday night, not at a rock or pop concert and there is very little that will convince me otherwise.