Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sick of It

I spent a few minutes watching kiddie-pawn on Saturday night. Not on the computer - on the television in the lounge. I was a doped out on panadol and temazepam (for post-dentistry pain and agitation), surfing the free-to-air: sports news on 2, ad break on 7, ad break on 9, ad break on 10, world news on SBS, who knows what on 31, AV blue screen, sports news on 2, ad break on 7, Australia's Funniest Home Videos on 9 - just in time for the last montage of funny videos, every one of them featuring a toddler in the nuddy. Toddler in the nuddy pushes a lawnmower, toddler in the nuddy gets tipped on her arse when the wind blows her inflatable paddle pool over, toddler in the nuddy eviscerates the neighbour's cat with dad's chain saw - that sort of thing.

The producers of the show are clearly aware that images of nekked infants of are a potential turn on for some sexual deviants - a discrete blur was placed over any exposed genitalia. But there were still plenty of perky, smooth baby buttocks on parade; and the whole set up stinks of child exploitation.

Firstly, it's impossible that any of the toddlers in these videos consented to the nude filming. What toddler would have the nous to say 'no way' to being filmed naked so that later in life, when the time came to introduce her fiancé to the family, Dad could embarrass her by bringing out that DVD of the time she went arse over tit while playing Lady Godiva on her rocking horse? Only one born with a prodigious natural talent for legal negotiation.

We can be equally certain that the toddlers in these film clips didn't have any say in whether the videos would be sent to one of the Funniest Home Videos national franchises for possible broadcast. No way. When Little Leather Face's old man put the video tape in the post, he wasn't thinking of the effect that broadcasting his kid's exploits with the chain saw would have on his future, he was thinking about his chances of winning at least the weekly prize, if not the grand end of season prize.

Nonetheless, the show has redeeming social importance - it makes people laugh. At least those in the studio audience. So it's comedy and, therefore, entertainment. Definitely not art, or worse yet, 'Art'. Which is why Hetty and Kevvie and Brendon and Andy won't be getting on their high horses about 'child protection'. The kids in these videos will be left alone to get on with being kids, their parents will be left alone to get on with being the weird kind of parents who think there's something funny about nekkid toddlers giving themselves head injuries and the network execs will be left alone to get on with being network execs and broadcasting this guff.

Of course it would be an entirely different story if you put it in an art gallery and called it a video installation.

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