3 June, 2016. 12:14
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
It’s been almost two years since its release, but as Pharrell Williams’ impossibly catchy party song ‘Happy’ continues to fly off the shelves of digital music stores, a growing chorus of child development experts are warning that it may in fact be doing our kids harm.
The popularity of the controversial tune, which features provocative lyrics such as “Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do”, has prompted experts to caution that the song might be exposing young children to ideas they are not yet equipped to handle.
“Parents should be wary about this song and the unhealthy message it contains for kids about the availability of happiness,” said child-rearing academic and the Australian Greens Senator, Richard Di Natale.
“The song presents a very idealised notion of happiness as something readily obtainable, anytime, anywhere, just by having carefree, innocent fun with friends, clapping and dancing,”
“The lyrics are frankly ridiculous. We need to be teaching kids that happiness isn’t simple and risk-free, and that life is actually very difficult and complex.”
Bestselling parenting author, and neologistic psychological disorder specialist, Dr Graham Peigh agrees: “We have to be very careful about what I term in my latest book – The Hyperhappyisation Of Our Children,” Dr Peigh said,
“In the past, happiness was something we discovered only as we fully developed into adults, or often only in old age, and in fact often never at all. Childhood was traditionally a time for strict discipline and beatings,”
“That seemed to work just fine for our parents and grandparents, but alarmingly we have seen that traditional structure rapidly unravel over the last couple of decades, and this hyperhappyisation is really just the logical end result of all of that very concerning, sudden societal change,”
“The sobering fact is we really don’t know where this is all leading for our kids as they develop into hopefully at least semi-functioning adults.”
But while it was one thing to condemn the music, Greens Leader Di Natale is taking one step further… he wants it banned.
“Initially, I thought this song might be an exception to the general principle that anything popular with youth must be a harbinger of society’s moral decay,”
“It seemed innocent enough, at least compared to Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry and Kanye West. But I now see I was blind to this song’s dangers. The song might be meant for adults, but kids are hearing it too, and they are being impacted by it,”
“It’s especially worrying for parents like me, because these days, what with iPhones and Snapchat and Tinder and Yo, it’s very difficult for us paretns to control what our kids are exposed to. I want this song off the air and no longer a threat to our children”
“Happy” is just the most recent development in a worrying trend. 2012 saw the release of the wildly-successful “Thrift Shop” by rapper Macklemore, which preached at listeners about the supposed “evils” of consumerism.
“I found ’Thrift Shop’ deeply offensive,” says Mr Di Natale,
“Nobody has the right to tell kids that their completely natural desires for designer clothes are somehow wrong. That is medieval thinking. We need to be messaging to our kids that they will be loved for who they are, whoever they are, and no matter what expensive T-shirt they fervently covet.”
Dr Peigh agrees Macklemore represented a low point in the history of popular music:
“Frankly, you needn’t look further than his name – ‘Macklemore’, how ridiculous, what does it even mean, for God’s sake?” Dr Peigh said, feelingly, “Back when I was a young man, musicians had sturdy, respectable names, like ‘Ringo Starr’ and ‘Little Richard’.”
But Ms Waters reassures us we shouldn’t give up on the kids just yet. “We should remember there’s still plenty of harmless pop music out there that teaches kids good, old-fashioned values,” the Professor observed, “I encourage parents to listen with their kids and guide them to the right kinds of music. Parents may well find this can be a surprisingly affirming experience for both parent and child.”
“Last year, for instance, I discovered a really fun little number with my son called “Blurred Lines”, by an admirable young activist called Robin Thicke, which had a very empowering message for young boys about perseverance and self-confidence in the face of initial rejection and failure.”
“It’s that sort of music we need more of to ensure this generation don’t become well-adjusted, content human beings, but end up normal, miserable, mean-spirited creatures like all the generations that preceded them.”