Parents Music Resource Center

Last updated
Tipper Gore, cofounder of the Parents Music Resource Center Tipper Gore.jpg
Tipper Gore, cofounder of the Parents Music Resource Center

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 have violent, drug-related or sexual themes via labeling albums with Parental Advisory stickers. The committee was founded by four women known as the "Washington Wives" a reference to their husbands' connections with government in the Washington, D.C. area. The women who founded the PMRC are 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. The PMRC eventually grew to include 22 participants before shutting down in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Parental Advisory warning label placed on audio recordings in recognition of excessive profanities or inappropriate references, with the intention of alerting parents of potentially unsuitable material for younger children

The Parental Advisory label is a warning label first introduced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1985 and later adopted by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) in 2011. It is placed on audio recordings in recognition of excessive profanities or inappropriate references, with the intention of alerting parents of potentially unsuitable material for younger children. The label was first affixed on physical 33 1/3 rpm records, compact discs and cassette tapes, and it has been included on digital listings offered by online music stores to accommodate the growing popularity of the latter platform.

Tipper Gore American writer and photographer

Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore is an American social issues advocate who was Second Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, and the wife of Al Gore, the 45th Vice President of the United States, from whom she separated in 2010.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives — the lower chamber — comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

Contents

Actions

As a method of combating this alleged problem, the PMRC suggested a voluntary move by the RIAA and the music industry to develop "guidelines and/or a rating system" similar to the MPAA film rating system. Additional suggestions from the PMRC that appeared in an article in the Washington Post included: printing warnings and lyrics on album covers, forcing record stores to put albums with explicit covers under the counters, pressuring television stations not to broadcast explicit songs or videos, "reassess[ing]" the contracts of musicians who performed violently or sexually in concert, and creating a panel to set industry standards.

Recording Industry Association of America voluntary association

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

The Filthy Fifteen

#ArtistSong titleLyrical content
1 Pewdiepie "Bicc Lasagna"Memeing
2 Pewdiepie "LWIAY Intro"Memeing
3 Jake Paul "It's Everyday Bro"Disney Channel Flow
4 Vanity "Strap On 'Robbie Baby'"Sex
5 Mötley Crüe "Bastard"Violence/Language
6 AC/DC "Let Me Put My Love Into You"Sex
7 Twisted Sister "We're Not Gonna Take It"Violence
8 Madonna "Dress You Up"Sex
9 W.A.S.P. "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)"Sex/Language/Violence
10 Def Leppard "High 'n' Dry (Saturday Night)"Drug and alcohol use
11 Mercyful Fate "Into the Coven"Occult
12 Black Sabbath "Trashed"Drug and alcohol use
13 Mary Jane Girls "In My House"Sex
14 Venom "Possessed"Occult
15 Cyndi Lauper "She Bop"Sex/Masturbation

Senate hearing

[1] In August 1985, 19 record companies agreed to put "Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics" labels on albums to warn consumers 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—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."

Dee Snider American musician

Daniel "Dee" Snider is an American singer-songwriter, screenwriter, radio personality, and actor. Snider came to prominence in the early 1980s as lead singer and songwriter of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister. He was ranked 83 in the Hit Parader's Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time.

Frank Zappa American musician, songwriter, composer, and record and film producer

Frank Vincent Zappa was an American musician, composer, activist and filmmaker. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era.

John Denver American singer, songwriter, activist, and humanitarian

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, activist, and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career with folk music groups during the late 1960s. Starting in the 1970s, he was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its best-selling artists. By 1974, he was one of America's best-selling performers, and AllMusic has described Denver as "among the most beloved entertainers of his era".

Supporting witnesses

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."

Paula Hawkins American politician

Paula Fickes Hawkins was an American politician from Florida. She is the only woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida. She was the second woman ever elected to the Senate from the South. She was the first woman in the country to be elected to a full Senate term without having a close family member who previously served in major public office.

<i>Pyromania</i> (album) 1983 studio album by Def Leppard

Pyromania is the third studio album by English rock band Def Leppard, released on 20 January 1983. The first album to feature guitarist Phil Collen who replaced founding member Pete Willis, Pyromania was produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The album was a shift away from the band's traditional heavy metal roots toward more radio-friendly glam metal and hard rock, finding massive mainstream success. Pyromania charted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, No. 4 on the Canadian RPM Album chart and No. 18 on the UK Albums Chart selling over ten million copies in the US, thus being certified diamond by the RIAA.

Def Leppard British band

Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement. Since 1992, the band has consisted of Joe Elliott, Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Phil Collen, and Vivian Campbell. This is the band's longest lasting line-up.

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.

University of Texas at San Antonio University

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a state research university in San Antonio, Texas, United States. With nearly 31,000 students, it is the largest university in San Antonio and the eighth-largest (2014) in the state of Texas. It includes three campuses across the San Antonio metropolitan area that span 725 acres of land. UTSA offers a wide array of academic studies, with 67 bachelor's, 69 master's and 24 doctoral programs. In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, it was selected by Times Higher Education as one of the best universities in the world under 50 years old.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

Opposing witnesses

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." [2]

Record producer individual who oversees and manages the recording of an artists music

A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.

A private copying levy is a government-mandated scheme in which a special tax or levy is charged on purchases of recordable media. Such taxes are in place in various countries and the income is typically allocated to the developers of "content".

Strom Thurmond Governor of South Carolina, United States Senator

James Strom Thurmond Sr. was an American politician who served for 48 years as a United States Senator from South Carolina. He ran for president in 1948 as the States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes. Thurmond represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 until 2003, at first as a Southern Democrat and, after 1964, as a Republican.

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.[ citation needed ]

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". [3] 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 Records for 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...

Parental Advisory sticker

On November 1, 1985, before the hearing ended, the RIAA agreed to put "Parental Advisory" labels on selected releases at their own discretion. The labels were generic, unlike the original idea of a descriptive label categorizing the explicit lyrics.

Many record stores refused to sell albums containing the label (most notably Wal-Mart), and others limited sales of those albums to adults. One of the albums to receive the "Parental Advisory" sticker was Frank Zappa's Grammy-winning album Jazz from Hell , presumably for the use of the word "Hell" in its title but also for the song "G-Spot Tornado", even though it is a collection of instrumental pieces and contains no lyrics at all.

It is uncertain whether the "Tipper sticker" is effective in preventing children from being exposed to explicit content. [4] Some, citing the "forbidden-fruit effect", suggest that the sticker in fact increases record sales. Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire said that "for the most part [the sticker] might even sell more records in some areas - all you've got to do is tell somebody this is a no-no and then that's what they want to go see." [4] Ice-T's track "Freedom of Speech" contains the lyrics: "Hey, PMRC, you stupid fuckin' assholes/The sticker on the record is what makes 'em sell gold./Can't you see, you alcoholic idiots/The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get." While lyrics from the Furnaceface song "We Love You, Tipper Gore", from their 1991 album Just Buy It, suggest that the label "only whets my appetite ... only makes us want to hear it that much more".

Musician reaction

Many musicians have criticized or parodied the PMRC and Tipper Gore:

Yo, Tip, what's the matter? You ain't gettin' no dick?
You're bitchin' about rock 'n' roll—that's censorship, dumb bitch
The Constitution says we all got a right to speak
Say what we want, Tip—your argument is weak

In his book The Ice Opinion, Ice-T wrote "Tipper Gore is the only woman I ever directly called a bitch on any of my records, and I meant that in the most negative sense of the word." [8] On "You Shoulda Killed Me Last Year", his spoken-word outro to his album O.G. Original Gangster , he curses the CIA, the LAPD, FBI, George H. W. Bush, and Tipper Gore.

Our records have stickers with a warning from Tipper
'Cause they're no good for kids; if we'd get her, we'd strip her

Tipper, won't you understand the message that I want to say
It's kind of rude but here it goes: it's "fuck you!"
I don't like what you do, and I don't like you.

WARNING: The inside fold out to this record cover is a work of art by H.R. Giger that some people may find shocking, repulsive or offensive. Life can sometimes be that way. [12]

To burn the {flag} and replace it with a Parental Advisory sticker/
To spit liquor in the faces of this democracy of hypocrisy/
Fuck you, Ms. Cheney; Fuck you, Tipper Gore. [13]

Eminem also included Lynne Cheney, owing to her heavy criticism of his previous album and its explicit lyrical content, The Marshall Mathers LP, at a United States Senate hearing. It is also worth pointing out that Eminem's reference to burning the flag was censored [ citation needed ] on the album release, which added a twist of irony to his claims here.

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Godsmack</i> (album) album by Godsmack

Godsmack is the debut album by the band Godsmack. The album was initially paid for by the band and released as All Wound Up, before the band was signed to Universal Records and Republic Records. It was mastered at Sterling Sound in New York City. It differs from All Wound Up by splitting the song Get Up, Get Out! into two tracks (the intro portion being re-titled Someone in London, while the song Goin' Down was removed. Goin' Down later appeared on the band's second major album Awake, along with another song left off the self-titled album Bad Magick.

"Hush" is a song by Tool from their 1992 debut EP Opiate, recorded by producer Sylvia Massy at Sound City Studios. It was the only single released from Opiate and was the first song that helped establish the band's reputation. The lyrics protest Tipper Gore and censorship, which is a recurring theme in Tool songs.

<i>Jazz from Hell</i> album

Jazz from Hell is an instrumental album whose selections were all composed and recorded by American musician Frank Zappa. It was released on November 15, 1986 by Barking Pumpkin Records on vinyl and cassette, and in 1987 by Rykodisc on CD.

<i>Mondo Bizarro</i> album by Ramones

Mondo Bizarro is the twelfth studio album by the American punk band the Ramones, released in 1992. It is the first to feature their new bassist, C.J. Ramone, who replaced departed member Dee Dee Ramone. The album was re-released in the UK by the record label Captain Oi! on August 10, 2004, with the band's cover of the Spider-Man theme song as a bonus track.

<i>Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention</i> album

Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention is a 1985 album by Frank Zappa. The album was originally released in two slightly different versions in the US and Europe.

"Darling Nikki" is a song produced, arranged, composed, and performed by American musician Prince and originally released on his Grammy Award-winning 1984 album Purple Rain. Though the song was not released as a single, it gained wide notoriety for its sexual lyrics and in particular an explicit reference to masturbation. Compared with the slick production of the other songs on the album, "Darling Nikki" was deliberately engineered to have a raw and live feel.

Howie Klein is an American writer, concert promoter, disc jockey, music producer, record label founder, record label executive, progressive political activist, and adjunct professor of music. He is perhaps best known for his role as President of Reprise Records from 1989 to 2001. He appears occasionally as himself in music-related film documentaries and has received accolades for his stance against censorship and for his advocacy of free speech protection.

<i>Warning: Parental Advisory</i> 2002 television film directed by Mark Waters

Warning: Parental Advisory is a 2002 television film created by VH1 and directed by Mark Waters. The film follows the story of Dee Snider, John Denver, and Frank Zappa, testifying before Congress against lyrics labeling laws.

<i>Ultraelectromagneticpop!</i> album by Eraserheads

Ultraelectromagneticpop! is the debut studio album of the Filipino alternative rock band Eraserheads, released by BMG Records (Pilipinas), Inc. in 1993. Ultraelectromagneticpop! spawned hit songs such as "Ligaya," "Toyang," and "Pare Ko." The album brought the underground Philippine college rock scene into public awareness and the emergence of "Eraserheadsmania" because of successive hit singles and sold-out concerts. The CD version of the album comes with lyrics but the cassette tape version does not.

"Absolutely Free" is a song written by Frank Zappa and released on the Mothers of Invention album We're Only in It for the Money in 1968. The song is not to be confused with the Mothers of Invention album of the same name.

Trashed (Black Sabbath song) single by Black Sabbath

"Trashed" is a song from the album Born Again, by English rock band Black Sabbath. It was released as a single also. It is the first song of the album, and one of the first songs by the Gillan Sabbath lineup.

Parental Guidance (song) 1987 song by the heavy metal band Judas Priest

"Parental Guidance" is the fourth song from the album Turbo by the British heavy metal band Judas Priest that was released on 14 April 1986. The song was released as a single in 1987.

<i>Congress Shall Make No Law...</i> 2010 compilation album by Frank Zappa

Congress Shall Make No Law... is an album by Frank Zappa, released posthumously in 2010 by the Zappa Family Trust on Zappa Records. It contains a full recording of Zappa's September 19, 1985, testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, during which he spoke in support of the recording industry and against censorship. In his testimony, Zappa criticized the Parents Music Resource Center, formed in 1985 with the stated goal of increasing parental control over the access of children to recordings deemed to have violent, drug-related or sexual themes by labeling them with Parental Advisory stickers. The album's release commemorates the 25th anniversary of the hearings.

Censorship of music refers to the practice of editing of musical works for various reasons, stemming from a wide variety of motivations, including moral, political, or religious reasons. Censorship can range from the complete government-enforced legal prohibition of a musical work, to private, voluntary removal of content when a musical work appears in a certain context.

"G-Spot Tornado" is a piece of programmed Synclavier DMS music written by American musician Frank Zappa, released in 1986 on his instrumental album Jazz from Hell.

Heavy metal lyrics

Heavy metal lyrics are the words used in songs by heavy metal artists. Given that there are many genres of heavy metal, it is difficult to make generalizations about the lyrics and lyrical themes. In 1989, two metal scholars wrote that heavy metal lyrics concentrate "on dark and depressing subject matter to an extent hitherto unprecedented" in any form of popular music. Jeffrey Arnett states that metal songs are "overwhelmingly dominated" by "ugly and unhappy" themes which express "no hope" for the future. Deena Weinstein has proposed one way to analyze metal song themes is loosely grouping them into two categories: the Dionysian theme, which celebrates "sex, drugs and rock and roll", partying, and enjoyment of life and the Chaotic theme, which involves dark subjects such as Hell, injustice, mayhem, carnage and death. Not all metal genres fall into Weinstein's two theme model; for example power metal's lyrical themes often focus on fantasy and mythology, camaraderie and hope, personal struggles and emotions, among other themes. Another exception is pop metal bands, which replaced "gloom and doom" themes with "positive, upbeat" songs about romantic love and relationships, part of their goal of appealing more to female listeners. In metal overall, the small number of metal songs about relationships are typically about unions that have "gone sour" long ago.

References

  1. United States Senate (1985): Record Labeling: Hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. United States Senate, Ninety-ninth Congress, First Session on Contents of Music and the Lyrics of Records (September 19, 1985). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  2. Lyons, Steve; Batya Friedman (January–February 1987). "Winter in America". Option . Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  3. Snider's testimony is also available at VH1.
  4. 1 2 "Spotlight on explicit lyrics warning". BBC News. 2002-05-27. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  5. Neely, Kim (9 August 1990). "Rockers sound off". Billboard. pp. 27–28.
  6. 1 2 Carnie, Dave (2000). "Danzig interview". Big Brother . Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  7. "Scorpion Archive". www.MEGADETH.com. Archived from the original on 2004-11-02.
  8. Ice-T: The Ice Opinion, p. 98.
  9. http://www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/lp/lp08h.jpg
  10. 1 2 Micallef, Ken (March 1996), Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk, Modern Drummer. Retrieved February 17, 2007.
  11. "Lyrics - Sucks". Archived from the original on 27 October 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  12. Alternative Tentacles - Bands.
  13. "To burn the flag and replace it with a Parental Advisory sticker" . Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  14. "I Want To Conquer The World" . Retrieved 24 November 2016.

Further reading