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Music Censorship

Essay by   •  October 29, 2010  •  Essay  •  3,388 Words (14 Pages)  •  1,894 Views

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Things are heating up in America. People are protesting outside of the movie theaters, concerts, and book and record stores of this great nation everywhere. What is all the fuss about? Censorship, Government officials, and raving mad protesters alike have been trying to stop the expressive creativity in everything from rap music to Mark Twain.

Censorship in music is a topic that has brought about much controversy in the past two decades. There have been many different arguments on the topic, however the question still remains as if it should be censored or it should not be censored. In Paul Blanshard's book The Right To Read: The Battle Against Censorship, he speaks of censorship as a negative boundary on society. Blanshard argues that people have been given the right to

express themselves fully and censorship is incorrect on the basis of the first constitutional right. Martha Bayles, in her article " The Perverse in the Popular," discusses a

characteristic of society that she calls 'perverse modernism', which refers to the public's attraction to the evils or negatives of society. 'Perverse modernism' will cause censorship of controversial music to be unsuccessful. There are several concerns and issues with artistic expression through music, however censorship of the controversial music will not resolve any problems and it will only create more problems.

The current state of society would not allow music censorship to be successful.

'Perverse modernism', which refers to the public's attraction to the evils or negatives of

society, is a characteristic that has become a standard of today's society. This

characteristic is not something that emerged recently but it has grown slowly

through time. For hundreds of years, society has been exposed to negative material

through literature, television, or music. People have developed an interest in material that

is forbidden. There is a need for people to fulfill their curiosity with knowledge of all

material, good or bad. Jeffery Goldstein explains,

Violent entertainment did not suddenly arrive on the scene, and it is not likely to depart it any time soon. People become acclimated to the arousal generated by violent images, but they have a continuing need for excitement. Does this mean that we shall have to accept ever-increasing violence and terror for entertainment purposes? It would appear to be so. (Goldstein)

Violence in the media is here to stay. The majority of modern society has grown a need to

view violence. In order to fully understand 'perverse modernism', the power of the

material being viewed must be analyzed. Negative material can appeal to people because

viewing negative material draws the attention of people by appealing to their deepest

emotions, such as fear, excitement, and curiosity. It appeals to the emotions of

a wide range of people. For the youth, the simple fact that the topic is taboo is reason

enough for engagement. The curiosity of the youth about the forbidden is satisfied, and

they learn to manage anxiety and defeat fear by distorting and exaggerating reality. At the

same time, they bond with others, story tellers, and peers by sharing intense emotional

experiences. People continue to watch or listen to material that offends them because the

satisfaction they receive from it outweighs the costs. Some artists and musicians use

vulgar words and imagery because they think that they can not express their pain without

the use of those words. While the other majority of musicians and artists intentionally use

negative images and words because they fully aware of the 'perverse modernism'

characteristic and chose to profit from it. Many artists feel that negative publicity is still

publicity and is worth obtaining.

Perverse modernism is becoming a phenomenon in society as more and more

people feel the need to view and profit from negative material. Martha Bayles

believes that people use society's attraction to negative material for monetary gain.

Bayles explains, " Today's popular culture uses shock and scandal as a

way of attracting attention and boosting sales, it is the child of perverse modernism"

(Bayles 29). Censoring the lyrics of certain artists will add controversy and scandal to

their music and it will bring them the added attention that they want. It will add

appeal to the music and ultimately cause censorship of music to fail in today's society.

Censorship will not be successful because it will backfire and cause more people to

view the material that is intended to be censored. For example, Britney Spears received

a lot of negative attention when she kissed Madonna during a live performance at last

year's MTV Video Music Awards. However, the attention she received helped her

debut at the top of the music charts and go on to sell millions of CDs. Britney Spears

was able to appeal to the youth of society because she appeared rebellious and seemed to

display a sense of defiance in her performance. Censorship

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