Censorship 4 Essay

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For as long as there has been music, there has been censorship. In fact, in western culture, it is only in the past hundred years that artists have had much autonomy at all. Eric Nuzum discusses the history of censorship, which dates all the way back to the 19th century, on his web page, A Brief History of Banned Music, "Most classical and popular music through the 1800's was created under a patronage system-where a rich benefactor of royalty would pay a composer to create musical works. Music was deliberately created to the tastes and interests of the patrons-if the patron did not enjoy a theme or style the composer simply would not be able to created and perform the music as easily" (www.ericnuzum.com). Now of course the music industry is a lot different, but the censorship still remains. Censorship has done many things. It has affected music groups such as The Insane Clown Posse, and Marilyn Manson. It has created groups such as the Parents Music Resource Group, PMRG, and the Southern Baptists who are actively fighting for music censorship. And finally, censorship has gotten a lot of attention in the media, the biggest case being Wal-Mart's censorship of groups such as White Zombie, 311 and the Fugees. This paper will be focusing on the controversies that the censorship of music has caused in the last 10 years. The most prominent group in the recent history of censorship is the PMRG, the Parents Music Resource Group. This organization was formed in Washington D.C. in the mid-1980's by Tipper Gore, the wife of the Vice President, and Susan Baker. The PMRG's primary focus was getting record companies to monitor and rate their artist's releases with a system similar the the MPAA system for movies. Due in a large part to pressure created from groups like the PMRG, the Recording Industry Association of America developed a stickering system to indicate the product contained explicit lyrics regarding drugs, sex, violence or other potentially objectionable material. (www.ericnuzum.com) But the down side to the stickering system is that they are just a warning, they don't stop kids from buying the x-rated material. Julia Dunn discusses this in her Insight on the News article, "Warning labels don't keep kits from shock CD's". "The parental-advisory labels on compact discs and tapes are effective only if parents monitor their children's purchases." She goes on to state, " The label consists of four words: Parental Advisory/Explicit Content.' But parents and music-industry officials often are clueless about the nature of the music carrying such labels." (39) Eric Boehlert, is a notable censorship author for Rolling Stone Magazine. He identifies another party that contributes to the censorship movement, in his article, "Rock & Roll: Manson Mania". This group is called Empower America. This is a conservative organization run by former Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett. This organization has been linked to circulating false affidavits which resulted in the cancellation of a portion of the band Marilyn Manson's, world tour. (28) Two other groups in the fight for censorship include the Christian Family Network and the Southern Baptist's. The CFN was also involved in the protest against Marilyn Manson, and the Southern Baptists were responsible for the rap group, Insane Clown Posses' album being pulled from store shelves. (28) We know now who it is that fights for censoring music, but who are groups such as PMRG and the Southern Baptists hurting? Hundreds of music groups are affected in some way by censorship. As I commented earlier, the rap duo Insane Clown Posse were dropped from their record contract and had their album pulled from stores within only six hours of them releasing it. Disney is the parent company of Hollywood, ICP's label, they were told that the music was, "too offensive for Disney." As it turns out, the motive behind Disney's retraction was pressure from the Southern Baptists. The other recent censorship incident recently is against the "shock-rock" band, Marilyn Manson. This group has had a hard time combating opposition. According to unsubstantiated affidavits, "Manson's concert's include animal sacrifice, sex with dogs, rapes, and heavy drug use" (Bohelert 27). As a result of these affidavits, all of the concerts on the tour were protested, and a considerable amount were canceled. Other censorship cases have also emerged due to Manson's controversial image. A web page run by a anti-censorship group called the ROC, tells the story of 18 year old, John Schroeder from New Braunfels, Texas, who was arrested for wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt. The shirt Schroeder was wearing had a picture of Manson on the front and the back read, "God of Fuck." He was arrested in a local grocery store after some other shoppers called the police, they felt the shirt was offensive. As a result, Shroeder spent three hours in the county jail, and could be fined up to $500. (www.theroc.org) The most recent and well-covered case of censorship involves major discount retailer, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's 2300 stores nationwide account for 8-10% of all record sales in this country. Eric Bohelert again, talks about this controversy in another of his Rolling Stone articles, "Meet the new boss (Wal-Mart)". Recently, Wal-mart has been refusing to carry certain artist's albums because they are found by the chain to be offensive. Wal-mart will refrain from carrying a certain record because it has obscene language, or the cover
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