Ofcom considering inquiry amid outcry over sexually suggestive X Factor performances

More than 1,000 viewers complain to Ofcom after highly sexualised performances by Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on X Factor final

Published 14 December 2010
Ofcom is considering whether to launch an inquiry after viewers were left shocked by highly sexualised performances from US pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna during the X Factor final.

A spokesperson for Ofcom said the media regulator had received more than 1,000 complaints from viewers about the performances, which were broadcast before the watershed and showed both stars dancing around the stage in skimpy clothing.

The spokesperson said the media regulator would look at the complaints before making any decision about whether to launch a full inquiry.

Rihanna was the first to take to the stage in a full length gown which she shed before gyrating around the stage in a revealing bra and knickers as she performed "What's My Name".

Her performance was relatively tame in comparison to Aguilera who appeared on stage to sing "Express" in tiny black dress accompanied by female dancers wearing bras, knickers and suspenders as they danced suggestively around chairs and on occasion simulated sex.

ITV has reportedly received 1,000 complaints over the X Factor final.

Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch, which campaigns for socially responsible broadcasting, said the performances were “really inappropriate” for pre-watershed television.

She said the movements of Aguilera’s backing dancers in particular were “worrying” and that the entire performance “looked like softcore pornography”.

“The broadcasting standards code is really clear about what material should and shouldn’t be shown between the hours of 0530 and 2100,” she said.

“The fact that this show is marketed at families means, like it or not, they are role models.

“If they are going to market this show to children then they simply can’t put this kind of thing out at that time.

“It is extraordinary that in the same week as the Government launched a major inquiry into the sexualisation of children, we had two of the world’s biggest superstars thrusting their crotches at us on prime time television.”

Ofcom’s broadcasting code states that “children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them”.

It adds that any portrayal of sexual behaviour must be “editorially justified” if it is broadcast before the watershed.

Pippa Smith, co-founder of Safer Media, said she would be writing to ITV and Ofcom to complain about the popstars' performances.

She said it was "extraordinary" that they could have been approved by ITV at a time when there is widespread concern about the sexualisation of children in Britain.

"We are very concerned by such material being included in a family show," she said.

"I can't see what editorial justification there could be and it doesn't meet the generally accepted standards the Ofcom code is supposed to reflect."

The debate over the suitability of the performances has been raging on social networking sites. YouTube users were among those expressing their disbelief.

In response to Rihanna’s performance, Mikealanzo wrote: “What has happened to music??? why do you need to strip to sell some records???”

Autumn2487 wrote: “This is not music, this is porn. Why does a singer need to mislead us into focusing more on his/her looks these days?”

Concerning Aguilera’s performance, MikeKoshko wrote: “A little racy?!?! Aren’t there little kids in this audience?!?!”

"Express" is taken from the soundtrack of new big screen musical, "Burlesque", in which Aguilera makes her film debut.

At the premiere of the movie in London's Leicester Square, the star told BANG Showbiz: "I don't think there is such a thing as too raunchy when it comes to the art form of burlesque."

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