The recent findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics that rock videos are exposing teenagers to an unhealthy dose of sex, violence, drugs and suicide should come as a shock to no one.
For years, rock music, its decibel levels aside, has been criticized repeatedly for lyrics that too often are replete with raw vulgarity and violence that can harmfully affect impressionable minds.But now with rock videos a new dimension in shock value has been achieved. Rock videos, which usually last 3 to 5 minutes, either show the musicians performing a song or acting out its lyrics, and it's the latter type that concerns the 36,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics.
While early generations of videos seemed to have more in common with home movies than professional films, the rock videos released today often are produced by some of Hollywood's biggest names and are polished numbers complete with special effects such as computer graphics.
As the academy points out, 75 percent of the videos contain a theme or story containing sexually suggestive material, and 56 percent show acts of violence that are often directed toward women.
What concerns the academy and should stir apprehension among parents as well, is that "Teenagers who may not `hear' or understand rock music lyrics cannot avoid the often disturbing images that characterize a growing number of videos."
The pediatricians, in their publication AAP News, said they do not favor censorship, but urged parents to exercise control over teens' video viewing to be sure shows are appropriate to the maturity of their children. The academy also urged parents to discuss the videos with their children.
But with its findings, it is little wonder that the academy has also called on the nation's teen idols to start setting healthier examples through the new art form.
Instead of the current crop of anti-social programs, the doctors encourage the music video industry to produce pro-social videos and public service messages with positive themes, including racial harmony, drug avoidance, non-violence, sexual abstinence and avoidance of sexually transmitted disease.
Who in good conscience and with the American teenagers' welfare really at heart could find fault with such recommendations?
It is obvious the amount of influence for good or ill that the American teen idol has. He/she has become a modern Pied Piper of Hamelin of sorts.
The question is where this piper would take his followers. We all know what happened to followers of Hamelin's piper.