Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Rihanna row farmer wins backing over pop clean-up

Rebecca Petticrew rpetticrew.ct@gmail.com

BANGOR farmer and DUP councillor Alan Graham's crusade to clean up the music industry reached new heights this week as a documentary charting his campaign aired on the BBC.

Mr Graham's encounter with international singing superstar Rihanna sparked a furore in September of 2011, after he asked her to cover up.

The singer was filming scenes for her 'We Found Love' music video in Mr Graham's barley field near Ballyrobert, when he noticed she had removed her top.

Uncomfortable with the situation, Mr Graham halted the shoot – a move which prompted a media frenzy and public outcry.

Despite the backlash, Mr Graham stood firm to his principles saying musicians should be famous as musicians and not for being "overtly sexual or provocative".

Despite the initial condemnation of his actions, the tide of public opinion seems to have turned. Mr Graham received many letters of support and several well-known performers, including Barbara Windsor of the Carry On films, said they agreed with his stance.

Rihanna's Farmer, which was shown on Monday night, recounted Mr Graham's journey as he took his concerns to various people in the music and entertainment industry, asking why such overt sexuality is necessary and how best to protect young people from inappropriate material.

Speaking to the Community Telegraph after the programme aired, Mr Graham said he was pleased with the end results.

"I think it came across fair, it was accurate and it seemed to capture the fact that quite a wide section of people are not happy with young people being exposed to explicit stuff," he said.

Explaining why he took part in the programme, he said: "I don't really see myself as being on a crusade against this issue from a voluntary point of view. I suppose circumstances and opportunities sort of thrust me into that position."

Saying that it will not be easy for any one person to take on the music industry giants, Mr Graham called for a united stance to tackle the issues raised in the documentary.

"For me, as Alan Graham, layman, farmer and with a very limited knowledge of the music industry, for me to take that forward single-handedly would be a very difficult challenge.

"But if others from interested parties are prepared to give that assistance and back up, then I would certainly lend my voice to any such campaign," he said.

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