What is censorship? An encyclopedia defines censorship as “the control of what people may say or hear, write or read, or see or do1.” There are many reasons why people censor entertainment such as literature and music. Many governments or groups try to preserve their standards of morality by preventing people from learning about or following other standards2, commonly found in the two previously mentioned mediums. There are different ways to censor things. It can be on a local level, such as libraries refusing to carry a controversial book. It can also be on an entirely larger scale. In the 1770’s, French author Beaumarchais had two of his plays, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, banned by King Louis XVI.2 Back then, these plays were considered outrageous and sometimes blasphemous. To fully understand how our system of censorship works today, we have to look into history to see how censorship got started. Johann Gutenberg invented the moveable type printing press and published his first bible sometime around 1450. By 1500, an estimated 20 million books were circulating throughout Europe. The Church’s monopoly over the written word was destroyed. Responding to this new technology of freedom, the Church developed a number of control mechanisms. The most obvious, and perhaps famous of these was the Index librorum prohibitum (Index of Prohibited Books).
The Index listed hundreds of banned authors and books.3 Less famous than the Index but absolutely central to the rise of censorship, was Church and government use of exclusive printing privileges, which granted favored printers a monopoly right to publish books so long as they were approved by official censors4. In Italy, censorship was primarily a response to the spread of printed Protestant propaganda.5 On October 31, 1517, the Day of all Saints, Martin Luther posted his 95 statements, of theses, to the doors of a church. This was revolutionary, because nobody ever successfully questioned the Church’s authority. Soon after that, others began to follow his example. Eventually, the Church lost power over people’s daily lives. Their local and national government took its place as the authority leader. As the government’s grew, it eventually started monitoring what the public could be exposed to. This included music and books. Eventually, in the 20th century, the majority of censors were small groups around the country. During wartime, when censorship is sometimes at its worst, both books and popular music are effected. Alex Domokos, the author of the novel Prometheus, said this about his experiences in post World War II Hungary: “In post World War II Hungary there were public libraries, but the accessibility of certain materials was screened.
Politics is a dirty business. Whether this truly reflects reality or is a popular misconception exacerbated by Hollywood excesses, the general sentiment towards our system of governance is that of disgust, suspicions or complete ignorance. John Doe believes that the average politician is more concerned with his own self-interest than that of his constituents - the term an 'honest politician' is an ...
Books on Western literature and philosophy were carefully censored and instead of widening, they narrowed our vision.6” In 1968, the Doors’ single “Unknown Soldier” was banned from airplay at many radio stations because of its anti-war theme. With the 1950’s came the birth of rock and roll. Because of its scandalous nature, the majority of censorship cases now came from music. The first noted censorship of music in the 1950’s came when radio stations around the country banned Dottie O’Brien’s “Four or Five Times” and Dean Martin’s “Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am” fearing they had hidden sexual messages and references7. This incident spread to cover many artists, including The Weavers, Stephen Foster, Webb Pierce, Cole Porter, Rosemary Clooney, T-bone Walker, Little Richard, Billie Holiday, & Link Wray8. Probably the most famous case of censorship in rock happened when Elvis Presley performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Usually during Elvis’ performances, he would gyrate his hips, causing teenage girls in the audience to go into frenzies. Ed Sullivan vowed he would never put Elvis on his show. Eventually, Sullivan gave in, and Elvis appeared on the show, but under one condition.
As an AB Communication student, our professor requires us to have a Radio Station Visiting in one of our major subjects. Our professor gave us a set of questions that we need to ask to the DJ there and we prepared two more questions to be asked. We choose 10.1 YES FM as a Radio Station that we will visit. We had an interview with Mr. Richard Sarmiento also known as “Rico Paňero” who has a radio ...
He was only shown from the waist up. The 1960’s were a period of the cultural unrest and protests from the flower generation. This was clearly present in the music of that time. In 1964, Indiana Governor Matthew Welsh attempted to ban the Kingsmen hit “Louie, Louie” because of lewd lyrics. After review by the Federal Communications Commission, the agency determined that the song’s lyrics are indecipherable. In June, radio stations across the country banned the Rolling Stones hit “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” because they believe the lyrics are too sexually suggestive. In 1967,Radio programmers passed on Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” because the lyrics referenced premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. Morrison cut an alternative version with more acceptable lyrics. Producers of the Ed Sullivan Show requested that Jim Morrison change the lyrics to “Light My Fire” for The Doors’ September 1968 appearance on the program. Morrison initially agreed to alter the lyric “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” to a more innocuous phrase. During the live performance, Morrison sang the original lyric.
The band was not invited back on the program.After Hudson’s, a large department store chain, refused to carry the record from MC5 when it was released in April of 1969, the group agreed to delete the expletive “motherf**ker” from the song “Kick Out The Jams.”9 The 1970’s were a period of drug experimentation. Nowhere was this more present than in music lyrics. In April of 1971, the Illinois Crime Commission published a list of popular rock songs that contained drug references, including Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” and the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” The RKO radio chain refused to play Rod Stewart’s hit “Tonight’s The Night” in 1976 until the lyric “spread your wings and let me come inside” was edited from the song.10 The music of the 1980’s was very diverse. There were a variety of genres, including, new wave, heavy metal, and sugary sweet pop tunes. These were all potential targets of censors around the country. Fearing association with its theme, Mercury Records refused to release Frank Zappa’s single “I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted,” in 1980.
Rap music can be considered a style of art, and a way for the artists to express feelings through their words on paper. However, there are quite a few rap artists that get criticized for their lyrics. In my essay, I want to discuss why rappers use certain lyrics in their music and why people shouldn?t believe that it causes violence among the younger generations. People shouldn?t censor the music ...
The morals of Provo and Salt Lake City residents were saved in 1981 when two radio stations banned Olivia Newton John’s hit single “Physical.” The stations feared that the song’s lyrics were a bit too suggestive for their heavily Mormon audiences. In 1985, The parents of John McCullom brought Ozzy Osbourne to court, claiming that his song “Suicide Solution” “aided, or advised, or encouraged” their son to commit suicide. The judge in the case decided that overt lyrics are protected speech and that evidence is insufficient to connect the song to the suicide.11 The year 1985 brought probably the most famous case of censorship versus artistic freedom. Following a meeting at St. Columbia’s Church in Washington, D.C. in early May, Tipper Gore, Susan Baker, and twenty wives of influential Washington politicians and businessmen formed the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).
The PMRC’s goals were to lobby the music industry for: lyrics printed on album covers; explicit album covers kept under the counter; a records ratings system that is similar to that used for films; a ratings system for concerts; reassessment of contracts for those performers who engage in violence and explicit sexual behavior on stage; and a media watch by citizens and record companies that will pressure broadcasters to not air “questionable talent.” These acts were considered censorship because it prevented people from listening to their music, and in that respect, is considered censorship. The PMRC wrote to music industry presidents and CEOs and requested a rating system for music lyrics and imagery. The letter contained a list of the “filthy fifteen” (the artists initially targeted by the PMRC), those artists were AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Cyndi Lauper, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Madonna, Mary Jane Girls, Mercyful Fate, Motley Crüe, Prince, Sheena Easton, Twisted Sister, Vanity, Venom, and W.A.S.P.12 At the urging of the PMRC, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held hearings on music lyrics and proposed systems to rate or sticker albums that contained violent or sexually themed lyrics on September 19th.
Music censorship has been a major problem plaguing America for over fifty years. In 1957, Elvis Pressley was only allowed to be filmed from the waist up on the Ed Sullivan show (Nuzum 1). Plenty of controversy has taken places between then and now, but more recently it has become much more prominent in the media, and people and organizations are beginning to actually take a stand. For example, ...
Representatives from the PMRC and National PTA, Senator Paula Hawkins, and Dr. Joe Stuessy spoke in support of regulating music, while three musicians – Frank Zappa, Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister), and John Denver – spoke in defense of popular music. In 1989, The RIAA released its black and white universal parental warning sticker in early March that read, “Explicit Lyrics – Parental Warning.” That sticker is still on supposedly explicit albums today.13 The 1990’s were arguably the most controversial period in music history. Everything from rap music, to grunge rock, to pop music was a popular target. In 1990, three county prosecutors in Eastern Pennsylvania warned retailers in April that they may be prosecuted if they sold 2 Live Crew’s Nasty As They Wanna Be to minors. Prosecutors in Chester and Delaware County joined Montgomery County prosecutor Michael Marino in declaring the album obscene. This case later went to court, where eventually 2 Live Crew won. In 1991, Country Music Television (CMT) and its parent company The Nashville Network both banned Garth Brooks’ video for “The Thunder Rolls” because it graphically depicted domestic violence.15In 2001, following the September 11th terrorist attacks, Clear Channel Communications, the largest owner of radio stations in the United States, released a list of more than 150 “lyrically questionable “songs that the station pulled from their play list.
Few songs portrayed explicit violence, but most had metaphoric themes that rang a bit too close to the tragedies. The list, containing music from almost every genre in popular music, included Sugar Ray’s “Fly,” “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller, Nine Inch Nails; “Head Like a Hole,” AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” and “Highway to Hell,” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire,” REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel, Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me,” “Nowhere to Run” by Martha & the Vandellas, and the entire catalog of Rage Against The Machine.16 Even though we have taken great leaps into helping us express ourselves without the fear of prosecution, censorship is still present, and it doesn’t look like it will be stopping soon. It harms us because we are being denied the chance of consuming material that we can get something useful out of. From Europe in the 1450’s to the United States in the present time, censorship has played a vital role in our daily lives.
Throughout history, the emotions of people have shown themselves in a variety of forms. Some of the people chose the medium of music to express their emotions and ideas. Music somehow became useless for some people, while music was still spreading across the world. But this work offended some people who were in the need of authority; these people tried to control the music created by the artists. ...
WebpageHunter, Christopher D.. “Copyright and Culture” 03 Dec. 2002
“An Interview with Alex Domokos” Dowse 03 Dec. 2002http://www.dowse.com/interview-alex-domokos.html
Nuzum, Eric. “A Brief History of Banned Music in the United States” 03 Dec. 2002http://ericnuzum.com/banned/
“Controversial Music: The Beat Goes On” 03 Dec. 2002http://teenmusic.about.com/library/weekly/aa022301a.htm
“The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000” American Library Association.03 Dec. 2002
Blume, Judy. “Judy Blume Talks about Censorship” 09 Dec. 2002http://www.judyblume.com/censors.html
“Censorship in the Renaissance” 13 Dec. 2002
“Constitutional Amendments 1-10: The Bill of Rights ” 02 Jan. 2003 http://www.archives.gov/exhibit_hall/charters_of_freedom/bill_of_rights/amendments_1-10.html
Anne, Rapin. “Beaumarchais” 31 Jan. 2003
BooksMarsh, Dave. 50 Ways to Fight Censorship & Important Facts to Know About the Censors.New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1991.
Encyclopedia”Censorship.” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1989 ed.