Sexualized music videos debauching Uganda's young

Sheeba-performing-at-a-recent-concer_20200821-151924_1 Sheeba one of Uganda's premier female musicians performing

At their own free will and on occasion as a requirement from the music video directors, their bodies are used as props to eroticize the music videos, your children regularly watch and imitate. 
With skintight crop tops, rompers, and other provocative lingerie, the young women, with the approbation of video scriptwriters, engage in objectifying dance moves, sexual gestures, poses, and facial expressions.

The video scriptwriters also occasionally require that bare-chested, chiseled six-pack abs muscle men bear their chests out in the videos as a balancing act.

In a word, sexualized music videos are what 1 Corinthians 15:13 describes as evil communications that corrupt good manners, though some would argue that they are just entertainment.

"Just entertainment, that is what it is. There is no need to make any palavers about it. The holier than thou people will say otherwise, however, but it is their contention and they are entitled to it," Sharif Das, a music video director, and producer in Kampala, says.

Evangelist Gideon Wananda, however, thinks it is right to hold videos that debauch young Ugandans in contempt.

"This is not an issue you can treat with flippancy. A big percentage of the music videos circulating today are outright debauchery. Why should one be partial to media that unflatters and commodifies female bodies and spoils our teenagers?" Wananda asks. 

 "Children and teenagers imitate what they see and as you know, the lockdown has for many of them been a time of TV binge-watching and unlimited social media usage." 

Some of the sexualized music videos such as Bebe Cool's "Wire Wire" and a host of others by artists such as Cindy Sanyu, Iryn Namubiru border on soft porn, but they are still all the rage. 

In many ways, the videos have gradually become a part of the contemporary Ugandan music character. 

Above-Cinderella Sanyu-one of Uganda's top female musicians performing.

The question at hand, therefore is why are musicians inclined to the sexualized videos template? And just why are videos such as "Ekitone" by Desire Luzinda, "Ice Cream" by Sheeba, "Timaya" by newcomer Prince Omar, "For you" by Winne Nwagi, "Sitoma" by Spice Diana, among others, made and distributed with little or no public dissension at all.

Ekitone, of course, was the exception, as it drew forth, blowback over its lyrics and sexual imagery.

Arnold Munduni, a music producer at KYA studios in Bweyogerere thinks artists' proclivity towards sexualized videos is driven by the belief that they are the most effective tool to market their music.

"It is a template which has worked and still works for many artists. If it is not broke, do not try and fix it. And you can bet during the lockdown, many sexualized videos have been doing the rounds. The fact is we live in a sexualized society, so reversing it will be hard because it is what people are partial to."

In the western world, postfeminist notions of female empowerment embodied by the likes of Beyonce, Lizzo, Janelle Monae, Megan Thee Stallion, Nick Minaj, among others have had a huge impact on the music video making industry.

For the post feminists, sexual imagery stands for power and liberation, it is almost the new normal. 

Above-Lizzo performing with her back up dancers

Andrew Kityo, a music critic, attributes the popularity of steamy sexualized videos to media and fan partiality towards them and lessened pressure from firebrand moralists such as Father Simon Lokodo [Uganda's State Minister for Ethics and Integrity] and Pastor Martin Ssempa [Ugandan-American pastor, activist, and the founder of the Makerere Community Church in Kampala].

"That coupled with an ineffectual anti-pornography law which proscribes the exposing of body parts deemed sexual or sexually exciting are to blame. The ineffectiveness of the law means artists have more or less become a law unto themselves."

For starters, the only Ugandan musician to ever face litigation for a raunchy music video was Jemimah Kansiime, also known as Panadol Wa Basajja. Her infamous music video for the song "Ensolo yange" was later banned in 2015.

More recently, Winnie Nwagi and her management team were compelled to apologize to Parliament's anti-pornography committee after a video emerged of her and her back up dancers engaging students at St Mary's College Kisubi in rubadub dances.

Through the years, an increasingly liberalized and sexualized society has acted as an enabler of sexualized content in music videos and in other popular attractions in Kampala such as standup comedy personified by the likes of MC Mariachi, MC Kapale, Amooti, among others.

Afro-beat and dancehall singer Cindy Sanyu agrees with video director Das, contending that videos deemed sexual are only for entertainment purposes.

"The notion that contemporary music videos are sexually corrupting our young people is a little a far-fetched. It is entertainment and its different strokes for different folks. People forget they have a right not to watch them. Nobody is tied to a screen. If you and your folks are being badly influenced by the music videos, do not watch. Period."

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