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Mega-star Katy Perry may be planning to get drunk, stoned, break the law and have sex with strangers this Friday night, but SA broadcast authorities are seemingly unconcerned.
When the Last Friday Night lyrics were first brought to light in the Cape Argus two months ago, many callers to 567MW Cape Talk suggested Perry’s lyrics were a disgrace – or at very least, inappropriate for young children.
Since then, Ashby Kurian, a pastor, has complained to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission that East Coast Radio played the song which, as the father of two girls, he found “inappropriate and offensive”.
“One very effective way to teach children to remember a message is through songs as it also works subliminally,” he said in his complaint to the commission.
“Please put a stop to this or we will have more school going boys and girls ending up in the 7pm e-tv news of bunking school, drinking and rape. (sic)”
Nick Grubb, chief operating officer of Kagiso Broadcasting, on behalf of East Coast Radio, said in response: “This song has enjoyed huge airplay on TV, other radio stations, YouTube, and it has been widely downloaded, so we can’t be solely responsible for the knowledge of the song.
“I think the reasonable person will listen to the song for the happy tune and sing-a-long melody and not assume that what is portrayed in the song is right or should be tried.”
But the commission ruled, instead, that it was not its job to ban songs.
“Songs like this Katy Perry song exist in the context of our free and fairly permissive society,” it said, instead encouraging parents and caretakers to protect children from what they considered detrimental.
Errol Naidoo, Family Policy Institute in Cape Town, told the Cape Argus: “Freedom and expression and speech all come with a responsibility – the primary one of which is to protect children, from harmful images and harmful content.
“I agree that parents carry the main responsibility. However, government, the media and others in society also have a responsibility…
“Images in TV programmes or films, for example, all carry age-advisories… But with song lyrics, seemingly, it’s a free-for-all. There are harmful and disturbing messages in many songs, and yet they are freely played on radio stations without any advisory warnings to parents,” he argued.
But a prominent city radio professional disagreed.
Ian Bredenkamp said: “Katy Perry’s song is in reference to a crazy party she attended. This is nothing new in the world of pop music, and my parents (and yours too) danced to songs by the Beach Boys and Van Morrison containing very similar stories regaling tales of wild nights.
“Our grandparents partied to such songs too – you need look no further than hits from jazz songbird Billie Holiday from the 1930s. Katy Perry’s song is a super hit, with a catchy chorus… now do yourself a favour and see how crazy the music video is on YouTube!”