Music Censorship Essay

Music Censorship Essay

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What is music censorship? Music censorship can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Basically it is the attempt or action taken by any agency to limit or curtail anything in music that a community may find offensive to its beliefs or values (college park: March 28). Music censorship has been around since the beginning of music itself. Up until recently, music was written in order to please royalty and the wealthy. If they did not like the music, they would just have it altered or destroyed altogether. For instance, in the 1850 s, Giuseppe Verdi s opera, La Traviata was changed many times because the lyrics were said to be too passionate by the citizens of Naples and Rome (college park: March 28). It is much different today, however, mainly due to the development of rock and roll in the 1950 s. It all started with the Ed Sullivan Show and Elvis Presley. In January of 1957 when Elvis starred on the Ed Sullivan the camera only focused on everything above his waist because his hip movements were said to be too crude and offensive to many viewers. Also, songs such as I can t get no satisfaction by the Rolling Stones were banned from many radio stations due to what was taken as pornographic and sexual in nature (college park: March 28). The censorship of music has continued since, but the most famous case of censorship came in the early 1990 s with the rap group, 2 Live Crew. They found that their sales were be restricted in Florida as police were arresting anyone under the age of 18 for purchasing their provocative hit, Me So Horny (college park: March 28). They were also arrested for performing this song at a concert, although after a long debate were released and the song was allowed to be purchased. As shown from above it can be seen that music censorship has become a big problem in today s society. The censorship of the music industry is far too extensive and effects how and what we can listen to by both parents as well as society and there must be a stand taken to fight against this problem. Music Censorship as it relates to the individual It is believed by many that the issue of music censorship should be left to the individual themselves to choose what is right and wrong for them. It should not be up to organizations and the government to tell individuals what they can and cannot listen to. The choice should be based on the person s beliefs and morals, that way the person s freedom is not taken away. Music can be a way of releasing built up tension or anger for a person and having a limited source of music they can listen to can hinder this. I know that when I am stressed out or angry, listening to music helps me forget what is going on in my life and gives me some time to relax. That was what music was intended to be for and if someone is going to take away that freedom, then it will come with consequences. If children are not allowed to buy certain music then they will just steal it. No matter what kind of laws are put on music to prohibit it, if the children want to listen to it they will get it. It may also come with even more drastic affects as gun violence and teen violence has become a big problem of society. If someone s rights are taken away it is going to upset people, and if it is their right to listen to a certain kind of music that is taken away then they will sometimes imitate what they hear on these CDs and will turn to violence. Music Censorship as it relates to the family Although it very rare for someone to turn to violence over the issue of music censorship, it can still cause many problems in a family. Generally, the idea is that the children listen to their music, the parents do not like the music, the children are not allowed to listen to that music anymore. This is music censorship taking place right in our own homes and this is not acceptable for many children anymore. This causes problems to occur among families because the children do not like their rights and freedom taken away from them. They may become rebellious and listen to their music anyway or they may even go further and start imitating some of the artists that they are not allowed to listen to and turn to violence. It is believed that the best way to solve this problem is for the parents to sit down with their children, listen to their music and tell them what they do and do not like about their music. This way the children will get an understanding of the parents point of view and maybe even decide not to listen to them anymore because they see why their parents disapprove of it. In my family, however, I have not run into this problem as my parents allow me to listen to what I want to because they trust my judgement. My parents know that I am not going to listen to anything that offends me, which makes them approve of my choices in music. This route of action is much better then just not allowing the children to listen to whatever they want because this way the children have no reason to become angry and turn rebellious. This in turn makes the family run more cooperatively and as a whole. If any parents do not approve of their children s taste in music and feel that their children will not benefit from listening to it, it is because they do not trust that they have done a good enough job bringing them up and giving them the morals and beliefs that they should have. Music Censorship as it relates to society Although this aspect of music censorship does not have as many drastic effects to the family, this issue is still very close to the hearts of society, whether they support it or not. This is shown through the vast array of pro-censorship groups like the Parents Music Resource Group (P.M.R.G.) (college park: March28), and anti-censorship groups like Rock Out Censorship (R.O.C.) (sunsetstrip: March29). However, all of these groups are looking out for society as a whole rather than as individuals. They figure what is right for one person must be right for everybody which is not always true and they can even take things too far. Take, for example, the story of a Texas teenager who was arrested for wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt. He was arrested while with his mother in a grocery store because one of the other shoppers complained to store security that they found his shirt offensive. The teen was wearing the shirt with Manson s face on the front wearing lipstick and on the back it said I am the God of F*** . He was charged with making an obscene display and was fined $500 (ultranet: April2). I do not believe that this course of action was correct. The only reason why music and apparel is censored is because of its content. This is because people figure if someone listens to music or sees a picture with a violent or sexual theme then
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