The word Censorship is perhaps a bit misleading since it was really a failed attempt to Censorship because it actually achieved the opposite effect.
This whole idea came from the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) which was headed by no other then the wife of former vice President Al Gore,Tipper Gore(no that is really her name).
Tipper Gore, left, wife of Sen. Albert Gore Jr., D-Tenn., testifies before the Senate Commerce Committee as Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker III awaits her turn on Sept. 19, 1985 in Washington. The committee was holding hearings on record labeling. (AP Photo/Lana Harris)
The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was an American committee formed in 1985 with the stated goal of increasing parental control over the access of children to music deemed to be violent, have drug use or be sexual via labeling albums with Parental Advisory stickers. The committee was founded by four women: Tipper Gore, wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore; Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; Pam Howar, wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howar; and Sally Nevius, wife of former Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius. They were known as the “Washington wives” – a reference to their husbands’ connections with government in the Washington, D.C. area. The term was also a play on the title of Ira Levin’s book, The Stepford Wives. The Center eventually grew to include 22 participants.
The committee wanted certain songs banned but failed to do so, therefore they came up with a rating system, basically a sticker on every album with ‘explicit’ lyrics.
These are the 15 songs they found most objectionable, they called them the filthy fifteen.
Especially Sheena Easton and Cindy Lauper were known for their explicit behavior and filthy language throughout their career(NOT)
The movement got some traction after a few high profile court cases, one against Judas Priest.
The band got into some serious trouble after their alleged backwards messages tragically inspired two young men to commit suicide. In 1985, Raymond Belknap and James Vance were hanging out drinking beer and smoking a joint while listening to Judas Priest, when they went to a church playground and shot themselves with a .12 guage shotgun. Belknap was killed outright, but Vance survived before eventually dying three-years later from complications. “We had been programmed. I knew I was going to do it. I was afraid. I didn’t want to die. It’s just as if I had no choice,” he reported later. The men’s parents filed a lawsuit which claimed the song “Better By You, Better Than Me” encouraged suicide with a series of backwards messages saying, “Do it”.
Of course the fact that they were drinking,smoking dope and listening to heavy metal being played backwards wasn’t an indication of mental issues.Below is a clip of the song, it is the backward version so please don’t drink,smoke joints and put any guns away.
In August 1985, 19 record companies agreed to put “Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics” labels on albums to warn of explicit lyrical content. Before the labels could be put into place, the Senate agreed to hold a hearing on so-called “porn rock”. This began on September 19, 1985, when representatives from the PMRC, three musicians — Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, John Denver(Yes that filthy Rocker John Denver)—and Senators Paula Hawkins and Al Gore testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on “the subject of the content of certain sound recordings and suggestions that recording packages be labeled to provide a warning to prospective purchasers of sexually explicit or other potentially offensive content.
Paula Hawkins presented three record covers (Pyromania by Def Leppard, W.O.W. by Wendy O. Williams and W.A.S.P. by W.A.S.P.) and the music videos for “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen, and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister, commenting: “Much has changed since Elvis’ seemingly innocent times. Subtleties, suggestions, and innuendo have given way to overt expressions and descriptions of often violent sexual acts, drug taking, and flirtations with the occult. The record album covers to me are self-explanatory.”
Susan Baker testified that “There certainly are many causes for these ills in our society, but it is our contention that the pervasive messages aimed at children which promote and glorify suicide, rape, sadomasochism, and so on, have to be numbered among the contributing factors.” Tipper Gore asked record companies to voluntarily “plac[e] a warning label on music products inappropriate for younger children due to explicit sexual or violent lyrics.”
National PTA Vice President for Legislative Activity Millie Waterman related the PTA’s role in the debate, and proposed printing the symbol “R” on the cover of recordings containing “explicit sexual language, violence, profanity, the occult and glorification of drugs and alcohol,” and providing lyrics for “R”-labeled albums.
In addition, Dr. Joe Stuessy, a music professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, spoke regarding the power of music to influence behavior. He argued that heavy metal was different from earlier forms of music such as jazz and rock and roll because it was “church music” and “had as one of its central elements the element of hatred.” Dr. Paul King, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, testified on the deification of heavy metal musicians, and to the presentation of heavy metal as a religion. He also stated that “many” adolescents read deeply into song lyrics.
During his statement, musician and producer Frank Zappa asserted that “the PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretation and enforcement problems inherent in the proposal’s design.” He went on to state his suspicion that the hearings were a front for H.R. 2911, a proposed blank tape tax: “The major record labels need to have H.R. 2911 whiz through a few committees before anybody smells a rat. One of them is chaired by Senator Thurmond. Is it a coincidence that Mrs. Thurmond is affiliated with the PMRC?” Zappa had earlier stated about the Senate’s agreement to hold a hearing on the matter that “A couple of blowjobs here and there and Bingo! — you get a hearing.
Folk rock musician John Denver stated he was “strongly opposed to censorship of any kind in our society or anywhere else in the world”, and that in his experience censors often misinterpret music, as was the case with his song “Rocky Mountain High”. In addition, Denver expressed his belief that censorship is counterproductive: “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.” When Denver came up to give his speech, many on the PMRC board expected him to side with them, thinking he would be offended by the lyrics as well.
Dee Snider, frontman and lead singer of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, testified that he “[did] not support [RIAA president] Gortikov’s unnecessary and unfortunate decision to agree to a so-called generic label on some selected records”. Like John Denver, Snider felt that his music had been misinterpreted. He defended the Twisted Sister songs “Under the Blade”, which had been interpreted as referring to sadomasochism, bondage, and rape, and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, which had been accused of promoting violence. Snider said about “Under the Blade”, a song Snider claimed was written about an impending surgery, that “the only sadomasochism, bondage, and rape in this song is in the mind of Ms. Gore.” He stated, “Ms. Gore was looking for sadomasochism and bondage, and she found it. Someone looking for surgical references would have found it as well.” Snider concluded that “The full responsibility for defending my children falls on the shoulders of my wife and I, because there is no one else capable of making these judgments for us.”
Notable snippets of audio from the hearing found their way into Zappa’s audiocollage “Porn Wars”, released on the Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention album. Senators Gore,Hollings, Gorton, Hawkins, and others appeared. The album cover featured a parody of the RIAA warning label. The LP included a note to listeners to send to Zappa’s Barking Pumpkin Recordsfor a free Z-PAC, a printed information package that included transcripts of the committee hearing, and a letter from Zappa encouraging young people to register to vote. Zappa’s full testimonial was released on a posthumous 2010 compilation called Congress Shall Make No Law…
The sticker actually worked as an incentive to buy albums, no matter how bad an album was if it had the Parental Guidance sticker it had to be cool.
Here are 2 video’s which were also deemed to be offensive but please don’t listen to them backwards
Funny enough none of the Stock Aitken and Waterman music were never subjected to censorship.
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