My eyes! My poor burning corneas! There I am, perusing some celebrity tittle-tattle of a lunch break, when I am confronted with a picture of professional pop strumpet Rihanna, caressing her breasts and her crotch. On stage.
Rihanna, in case you prefer the more elevated strains of, say, Rachmaninoff, is so famous that she has just chartered a Boeing 777 so she can promote her new album around the world. So vast is her popularity that she seems to release a new single every other week – and she even appeared at the Paralympic closing ceremony. When she’s not touching herself up publicly, she likes to pose for pictures smoking fags while wearing thigh-high leather boots and see-through fishnet vests emblazoned with cannabis leaves. Stay classy!
Rihanna is every teenage girl’s favourite pop star. As Suzi Quatro said this week, “It’s not that the women in today’s pop and rock world are being treated like sex objects; it’s that they are choosing to do it to themselves. Now they seem to be nearly nude, and I think that the videos are borderline pornography.” Quatro, who was no stranger to leather herself, has been backed up by Kiki Dee, whose lack of clothes on the cover of her 1995 album Almost Naked now seems quaint. “I watch the music channels occasionally,” said Dee, “and those kind of performances leave me cold. That whole gyrating sexual bit I find dull.”
As dull and routine as doing the dishes, these days. When I was a wee lass the world got its collective knickers in a twist when Madonna posed without any in her Sex book. The Pope would stage an intervention every time she frolicked in front of a crucifix. Today the sight of Rihanna being tied up, while the words “SLUT” and “WHORE” are flashed up on the screen, would barely be cause for His Holiness to reach for the smelling salts. But never mind him. Why doesn’t it trouble her?
I worry that I come from the last generation of people who even recognise the sexualisation of mainstream culture. Do we get to a stage where people of Rihanna’s age (24) and under think it is just the done thing to thrust their hips and lick their lips in public? Do we become enraged by the news that thousands of children on social networking sites are at risk of being abused by paedophiles, while failing to address the fact that Grammy-winning pop stars are making like porn stars on TV in our living rooms? You know it’s a funny, mixed-up old world when Suzi Quatro has to come over all Mary Whitehouse, really you do.
In his new biography of Jesus Christ (presumably it will sit on shop shelves next to tomes by Katie Price and Jeremy Clarkson) Pope Benedict XVI claims that nativity donkeys and cattle are a myth, and that we should be cautious about popular claims that angels sang to the shepherds to proclaim the birth of Christ. They spoke the words instead, apparently, this simple misunderstanding leading to the craze for carol singing. But back to the asses. “There is no mention of animals in the Gospels,” writes the Pope, thus breaking the hearts of children across the country who have been cast as donkeys in their school play. Bah humbug! Just who in God’s name does he think he is?
According to research, Facebook makes us less able to fib. We are so keen to upload photos and post status updates that nobody bothers to lie any more because it is far easier to be caught out. Yet when I trawl through my friend “feed”, and see how desperate some Facebook acquaintances are to detail every cough and spit of their existence (“eating chocolate!!!”, “I have an ulcer!”), I do wonder if honesty is always the best policy.