Censorship Essay

Censorship Term paper

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Joseph Graham Eng 101-24 Essay 2 Sept 29,1996 "Censorship" "The song [Cop Killer] is fiction, not fact. At no point did I go out and say 'Let's do it.' I am singing in the first person as a character who is fed up with police brutality. I ain't never killed no cop. I felt like it a lot of times. But I never did" -Rapper Ice-T, National Review, July 20, 1992. Statements such as that has started an on going debate about censorship in the television and music industry. What exactly is censorship? Some feel censorship is a violation of the first amendment right. Others say censorship is a must in the violent, abusive world we call "society". Who has the right to censor? Who doesn't? What needs to be censored, and what doesn't? The fact of the matter is that their are the pro's and con's in the music and entertainment industry about censorship. Since its invention earlier this century, television has become the most popular format for entertainment. We can be entertained, informed, and inspired by programs on TV. In fact, Americans love TV so much that we probably watch far too much of it. TV stations are becoming less restrictive about content in their programs. More violence, profanity, and nudity than ever before now graces our TV screens every night. Clearly, there are things that children should not be seeing on TV. The new V-chip legislation passed be Congress requires all TV manufactures to install an electronic device that allows parents to set the tolerance levels for violence, profanity, and nudity. However, are children's viewing habits the responsibility of the government or the parents? There are several arguments that can be made on censorship on TV. One for example, what the pro's for censorship? What are the con's? The are a lot of good points and bad points about censorship on TV. A good point that can be made is that there are a lot of violence and profanity on the "tube". This can be clearly stopped by the new V-chip legislation just passed. But would the V-chip automatic censor block out such violent dramas a "Schindler's List," "Root." or "Gone With the Wind?" Would producers make a television mini-series about the bloody Civil War, which very likely would be blocked as too violent, or pass on such a project for fear of censorship? Another good point to censor certain TV shows is the theme of the show or movie. For example, "The Simpson" and Married...With Children" encourage children to disrespect their parents. But for families that watch TV together and discuss the good, bad and the ugly don't need not stinking v-chip. The lines of communication are open, and children are taught what is acceptable and what is not. By relying on a transistor to do their parenting for them, many adults will fall even more out of touch with their children, who will spend more time trying to get around technology to watch shows they're not supposed to watch. Those are just a few minor points about censorship in TV, but the same points can be made about the censorship in music as well. To many, music is the language of the soul. In the past, the musician's right to control his work was not in question. This has begun to change in recent years, however, as the lyrics to popular music have become more explicit. Is a rap group portraying real life in the ghetto, or a heavy-metal band singing about suicide, protected as artistic expression? Or do these songs really influence society, becoming a cause of violence and hate instead of merely an expression of them? Is government censorship of offensive and violent lyrics a way to improve society, or simply controlling who offend the wrong people. Many artist claim they are just using the freedom of speech amendment and singing and writing about whatever they please. But to others, the real intentions of the would-be music censors is to impose on all Americans the tastes and values of political power brokers who don't connect with experiences and concerns of the young and alienated. According to the "would-be" censors free speech does not include the right to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater. Most lyrics go a lot further than that. The artist need to acknowledge that there are obviously some correlation between the negative and violent messages that are being put out in many tapes and the violence that exists out there in the real world, is a major reason to uphold censorship, People can go on and on why music and TV should be censored and why is should not. This is an debate that will go well into the 21st century. But the real question is will the music get more explicit and TV get more and more violent. Only the test of time will find out.

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