Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hi-5 goes low-brow

Kellie Crawford, formerly of the kids' entertainment group Hi-5, has had a change of career, appearing in lingerie on the cover of Ralph men's magazine.

Critics have accused Crawford of setting girls a bad example - fair enough. But I also think Hi-5 sets girls a bad example. In fact, I think it's bloody awful (although my son and daughter would strongly disagree).

The sexualisation of the three women of Hi-5 is disturbing: they primp and giggle coquettishly, their appearances are immaculately managed, and their movements are always constrained and ladylike in contrast to the males, even when they're dancing. I've known of grown men who've watched Hi-5 from time to time - and it wasn't for the storytelling or catchy tunes.

Neither sexualisation or gender roles are necessary to interest kids. Playschool, the much-loved TV programme of my youth, featured luminaries like Jackie and Barry and Rawiri. No sex appeal there. The women and men alike were dressed appropriately for the physicality of entertaining kids, and there was little difference in the way they acted or spoke. Playschool engrossed a generation of kids - and no one ever came away from it with body image issues. What changed?

The fact that a children's entertainer has made such a seamless transition to sex symbol should give us pause for thought about the calibre of kids' entertainment. Kellie Crawford may only recently have got her kit off for the camera - but a number of Hi-5 'fans' have been mentally undressing her for years.

26 comments:

muerk said...

I agree. Playschool was a kids program that was geared for little kids and their interests. The clothes were practical and not part of the "package".

Hi5 is far more Barbie and Ken when it comes to body image and that annoys me too.

A Nonny Moose said...

My problem with this is they're judging this poor girl on her PREVIOUS occupation. She is not in High-5 any more, hasn't been for years - she's entitled to do whatever she freakin well likes. The girls who would have been her fans as kids are now in a state of maturity that they should be intelligent enough to separate the High 5 performer from the woman of today.

Whole lot of society judgment there - a woman/mommy figure is not ALLOWED to change her role/be sexy. Eesh.

Anna said...

See what you mean, Moose - there's nothing wrong with a children's entertainer having a sexuality (although I would question whether Ralph magazine offers respectful portrayals of women's sexuality).

But I do think it's morally a bit off for someone to build their career and celebrity status as a children's entertainer, then (mis)use that status to do something which may be harmful to kids by compounding body image issues.

But really, is there any need to sexualise children's entertainment in the first place? I've never once imagined the Wiggles in the buff - their is not sexual dimension to the entertainment they provide - and kids still love it.

Anna said...

What I'm trying to say (and doing a shite job) is that a woman can be beautiful and sexy without buying into portrayals of women's sexuality which are passive, disrespectful or plain dumb. I actually see both Hi-5 and Ralph as offering dumb portrayals of women, so I actually see continuity between Kellie's two career choices, rather than a thing to criticise her for!

A Nonny Moose said...

Getting you :)

There's a certain multi-level thing going on with children's entertainment in the last 20 years - I started noticing it around 91 with the release of The Lion King. There's now got to be some higher maturity joke/look/sexuality attached that kids wouldn't neccessarily get, but is there to amuse the parents. Not neccessarily a bad thing if done tastefully, but a fairly cynical buck grabbing thing nonetheless.

I agree that Ralph is dumb, but sometimes a woman wanting to prove her worth in a different way grasps at the wrong straws. It's why I have empathy for the girls from Girls of The Playboy mansion.

muerk said...

I think the connection is that part of the job description of being on Hi5 is image - the women are slim, feminine and attractive. The men are buff and hairless. And there's lashings of cosmetic dentistry for all.

Hi5 Kelly looked pretty and danced and sang for kids, men's mag hottie Kelly looks pretty and poses for men - either way her image is a huge part of that.

Mary-Lou said...

A certain blog had a button on it saying "My body - my choice."

I wonder if you'll abide by this or if it is just window dressing?

She left Hi5 ages ago, and is blessed with confidence and a body to match. Why not make a shedload of cash for the hard work she has put in at the gym? Ralph pay a lot for this and it isn't new - in the UK childrens presenters get their kits off all the time and the public don't get too worked up.

Anonymous said...

"Why not make a shedload of cash for the hard work she has put in at the gym? Ralph pay a lot for this..."


Aaaaargh! I am so sick of pseudo-neo-liberal analysis, or non analysis or soemthing. "She's making money so its OK" "every individual shouldn be allowed to do whatever they want, why should anyone have to consider the consequences for others" "There is no such thing as society" etc. etc.

Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. On the logic of this, I might as well go down to the local school and sell cigarettes to the kids - if I want to, why should anyone stop me? I'm not forcing the kids to smoke them, if they smoke them that's their look out - who has the right to tell them not to?

Sure, readers or Ralph aren't (mostly) kids - but, speakng as a man, I have no evidence that, in certain areas, my brain is any more mature now than it was when I was fourteen. I am able to make critical judgements about such things as Ralph, because I had years of education on subjects stemming from feminist and other schools of thought as to how society and people work.

Much of this isn't getting through to people now - the message is "Sexism is OK, soft-porn isn't dangerous, it's all a laugh, go right ahead, the girls (sic) want to do it, it's empowering for them, indulge yourself, blah blah blah" grumble grumble.

And after all this brainwashing that Ralph and TVNZ's latest 'hot chicks in cars' show are absolutely OK, we then get blamed for watching it. "We only put it on because its popular" the bosses of these corporates tell us.

Well, if I tell the kids at school that cigarettes are fine, and there's no reason not to smoke them, is it their fault if they go ahead and do so. In free-market la la land apparently so.

Sorry for the semi-comprehensible ranting. Grumpy.

Cheers

Sam Buchanan

Anna said...

Heartily agree, Sam. Neoliberal non-analysis has completely fetished the value of individual choice, over the value of the actual things we choose. And we're losing the capacity to actually comprehend the impacts of individual actions on the collective (which doesn't exist anyhoo, if you listen to Mrs Thatcher, which I don't).

Mary-Lou said...

Soooo, a woman does not have the right or be allowed the choice to make money off the fact that she is good looking?

And by doing so she is part of a neo liberal conspiracy?

How strong is the coke you put on your breakfast cereal this morning?

Whatever happened to "My Body - My choice"? Answer that.

Anonymous said...

If you're asking me, I'm afraid I never reply to people who make insinuations of drug use against their political opponents on blogs as its clear they are not genuine about the debate.

Cheers

Sam Buchanan

Anna said...

Mary-Lou, it should be obvious that feminists do not support unfettered choice of what people can do with their bodies, because that would extend to violence and a bunch of other negative outcomes. And there's a big difference between seeking to restrict someone's choice, and recognising that their choice may have negative consequence for the others.

Apparently, you can't see the wood or the trees, and you're not even willing to look. It's getting boring.

Mary-Lou said...

"My Body - My choice"

It's on your blog. Perhaps remove it if you don't believe in it.

What's boring is the hypocrisy that you preach freedom for women to do whatever they like, but as soon as it goes against what you believe in - it all becomes suddenly wrong and exploitative.

She "chose" without coercion to model for a lads mag. She worked hard on her image and her body and wishes to make a few extra dollars. What is wrong with this? are you upset because she chose to pose in a bikini for men (and lesbian) readers, or is it something much deeper than that?

Julie said...

Mary Lou yet again you are running off into the distance on a tangent from the original post and the tenor of the comment thread prior to your engagement. It's getting really tiresome.

Anna isn't advocating that Kellie's choice to pose in Ralph be taken away from her. She hasn't said that she thinks Ralph should be outlawed, or posing like that, or anything. What Anna has been talking about is the sexualisation of women's bodies, and the perpetuation of stereotypes about women, and how it is not just in places like Ralph but also in kids' entertainment like Hi-5.

It is possible for people to consider the impact of the actions of individuals without denigrating the person under discussion, and that's what I see in this post and this thread. You might like to give it a go rather than this boring trolling.

Mary-Lou said...

""What Anna has been talking about is the sexualisation of women's bodies, and the perpetuation of stereotypes about women, and how it is not just in places like Ralph but also in kids' entertainment like Hi-5.""

So why bring it up now in the veiled smarmyness against Kellies choice to pose in a magazine? Your blog is full of this "sexualisation" talk, so whats the difference. This is all about her choice and your tiring excuses about it not being a matter of choice. I'm not trolling, I am bored of the idea that everything has to be over analysed and is somewhat sordid and wrong. Kellie posed for a magazine and supplimented her income, good for her.

Be proud of another woman instead of thise "snob" like sneering that she made money out of showing her breasts and that *must* be wrong. Get over yourself.

Julie said...

So you're bored and I'm bored - remind me again why we are continuing this conversation?

Anna said...

I think we're all bored. Mary-Lou, I'm sick of your rudeness to other people at THM, and your refusal to do other people the courtesy of even paying attention to the points they're making. So from now on, I'm going to delete your rude comments until you either stop making them or go away.

Mary Lou said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julie said...

Mary Lou several people have tried to debate with you, on this thread and elsewhere, but it seems to be pretty futile. This may surprise you but my world doesn't actually revolve around you. This blog is not about you either. If you think you're going to get the last word here then you're wrong. So kindly give it up rather than destroying this thread further.

Anna said...

Mary-Lou, this must be about the tenth time someone has tried to explain to you why making dumb, rude, angry comments isn't a 'debate'.

So I've deleted you. Take your non-comprehension and nastiness somewhere else.

Bye bye.

Julian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stargazer said...

julian, i found that comment completely inappropriate. do men never disagree on any blog? and when they do, do you call it a "catfight"? in fact, i find the nastiest exchanges on blogs occur on right-wing blogs between males.

please do not bother leaving comments like that here. they won't be tolerated.

Julian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stargazer said...

no julian, i found the misogyny of the term "catfight" when women disagree unacceptable and pointed out that misogyny to you by referring to other forms of disagreement. by deleting your comment, i merely showed that we're not interested in that kind of comment on this blog. we're interested in debate and discussion here, not childish putdowns.

Julian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stargazer said...

no, i'll start listening to you when you have something useful to say, that isn't derogatory. simple as that.