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Music Censorship

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Albums with explicit lyrics or content started having black and white parental advisories on them in 1994 ( Are these labels necessary? Is controversial music molding our society and causing teenagers to turn to drugs? Is censorship necessary to protect the youth of our nation. Generally, younger people are against censorship on this issue. Music is an outlet and even an anti-drug for many teens -- however, parents and society feel differently. Should parents censor their children or society, many parents would like to raise their own children. 'Censorship, like charity should begin at home -- but unlike charity, it should end there,' is a quote by Clare Boothe Luce (Fitzhenry, 84). Many believe that the 'explicit' lyrics and content in this controversial music like Eminem will turn their children to crime and drugs. Music censorship started in the United States in the late fifties and continues till today. Will it ever go too far or stop?

Society causes a lot of music censorship. Starting in the late fifties and early sixties members of society made efforts to censor R and B music ( They were concerned that the music endorsed wild living, promiscuous sex, and lewd dancing ( 'During the late sixties and seventies, Jim Morrison's dark and suggestive lyrics stirred up communities, and parents were appalled to see Elvis Presley's hip-thrusting' ( Society censors music like this because they are afraid of it. They think it will alter the minds of their children and cause them to do things they would have never done if it were never suggested in a song's lyrics. 'Music mirrors the society that creates it' ( Some people believe this, while others believe that music causes problems in our society such as crime and drugs. 'For every person who believes certain lyrics portray a frightening world, there is another person who finds them deep and powerful because that world is all too real' (

A number of people believe there is a correlation between album sales and the parental advisory label. Others, like the Recording Industry Association of America believe, or at least try to make parents believe that there is no correlation. 'It's not the labels kids look for, it's the music. Independent research shows kids put limited weight on lyrics in deciding which music they like, caring more about rhythm and melody. The warning label alone isn't enough incentive.' (

'Censorship, like charity should begin at home -- but unlike charity, it should end there,' is a quote by Clare Boothe Luce (Fitzhenry, 84). Some parents are against the censorship of music. They believe that they should raise their kids, not some politicians who believe one nasty word will change a whole child's future.

Many music artists have had other people attempt or succeed to sue them for their explicit lyrics and sexual content. 2 Live Crew was one of these music groups. In June of 1990, a Broward County judge in Florida declared that their album, As Nasty as They Want to Be, was legally obscene. ( 2 Live Crew's record was the first one in America to be deemed legally obscene although a Georgia appeal court later overturned this decision in May of 1992 ( Live Crew and AN=The 2 Live Crew and MID=66486 and MH=). Some people believe that a label should be placed on albums by artists who have explicit content in their recordings. Others believe that the music should not be on the market for the public to access at all. Many believe that censorship should not be allowed at all because it infringes our first amendment right, freedom of speech.

There are many groups and organizations who are trying to stop the censorship of music. One very prominent group is called Rock Out Censorship. Rock Out Censorship has been actively opposing the censorship of popular music since 1989. One platform they stick by, is they do not like the warning labels placed on albums to warn parents there is explicit material in the album. 'Rock Out Censorship's position has always been that these stickers do very little to warn parents, but do a lot to open the door to more restrictive forms of censorship' ( Rock Out Censorship has traveled and set up booths against censorship at many shows controversial and not so controversial groups and bands have played at. Some of these include Korn, Aerosmith, The Warped Tour, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and many other tours and artists ( Rock Out Censorship has also had stage demonstrations in Washington D.C and has had petitions written to the Recording Industry Association of America asking them to get rid of the parental advisory warning system ( Rock Out Censorship believes that this system will lead to pieces of legislation that would criminalize the sale of 'controversial' music to minors.

The magazine, Rolling Stone also had a negative response to the censorship of music. The first articles in Rolling Stone to speak out against censorship appeared in 1969. Similar to Rock Out Censorship, their articles focused on stickering, labeling and ratings. (Davidson and Winfield, 99) Rolling Stone also felt that the recording industry had given up and given in to the stickering and labeling and no longer would put up a fight. As said in the book, Bleep! Censoring Rock and Rap Music edited by Davidson and Winfield concerning Rolling Stone's response:

'Rolling Stone's anti-censorship sentiments included blatant disdain for the PMRC's actions with an editorial placed in the middle of the article. Detailing the 1985 Senate hearings, Rolling Stone stated, ''The Parents' Music Resource Center's proposal is unworkable and unnecessary and comes perilously close to censorship.' A three-page article, entitled 'At a loss for Words: Record Industry Acceptance of Stickering is Already Having a Chilling Effect,' was clearly an anti-labeling opinion piece. Rolling Stone argued that control efforts have a negative effect on the industry: 'The concessions [voluntary labeling] sound disturbingly like self-censorship. Who needs legislation if the record companies like Circles won't sell those albums to minors?'' In addition to Rolling Stone, other magazines have been voicing their opinions about music



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