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Music Censorship

In: English and Literature

Submitted By balrr4life
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Music censorship began its journey in the early 1950’s with the “controversial” music of Blacks during the time period. It has then evolved from a form of racism to a method of suppression. It touches all major genres, but is most commonly issues with both rap and rock music. Major groups such as the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) have been formed to try and monitor the lyrical messages that are expressed in songs. The RIAA is not out to completely censor music, but to advise buyers of the messages they may be listening to on a certain album. Then there is the party that feels censorship at any level shall not be present. It is suppressing one’s First Amendment rights in freedom of expression and also suppresses an artist abilities to fully paint a vivid picture with their lyrics to the audience. The last group believes that censorship is a must, and that any songs that carry the censored material shall be taken off of the shelves. That specific group believes that contaminating society with explicit lyrics should not reward artists. The side that believes censorship of music should not exist at all states that music is a form of art. Many tend to separate music from forms of art, such as paintings and poetry. However, the lyrics in the music are an art form as well, and they cannot restrict that due in part to the First Amendment. It is part of our Bill of Rights as American citizens, and no governing powers can take that away from us. Also, society favors contemporary words; for it is contemporary words that challenge radical ideas and impressions. It was through expression and challenging words on paper that sparked messages through many individuals(i.e. the American Revolution). The negative side believes that censorship in music should be present and take a strong hold over justifying what should and should not be played for the audience’s ears. People that are for the issue are usually from the older generation. These people consist of government officials that have children of their own. They believe that music pertaining profanity is one of the main factors for the problems that occur in our society. Such problems consist of an increase in violence and drug use amongst adolescents. An example was the incident that occurred at Columbine High School, where the media looked towards music as one of the causes for the incident. They feel that the music promotes sex, drugs, and violence. Critics believe that the children are not quite mature to listen to music with profanity in it. There is also the neutral side, in which they believe music censorship is not the answer. However, their exceptions include placing advisory labels on albums so that the buyer understands what type of music can be found within the playlist. This group consist of the RIAA, which started the entire “parental advisory” labeling. A statement from their website reads as follows: “"All music is not always appropriate for all ages. The music industry takes seriously its responsibility to help parents determine what is and is not appropriate for their children. That's why the record companies created the Parental Advisory Label Program.” They have no problem with artists being themselves and doing so creatively, but with advisory notices to the rest of the listeners. I personally came from a background where the advisory labels played a big role in what music my parents would buy for me. As I got older, my perspective began to change when my parents would give me permission to purchase my own music. I soon realized the difference of the music between the clean and the raw versions, and my interpretations of the artist’s lyrics. Censorship should not be a option for music today, but I do agree with the advisory labels. To a certain extent, there must be an age-appropriate audience to listen to certain lyrics in a song.

Works Cited
Deflem, Mathieu. "Rap, Rock, and Censorship (by Mathieu Deflem)." College of Arts and Sciences. Mar. 2001. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. .

"Parental Advisory." Recording Industry Association of America. RIAA, 2011. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. .

Schneider, Christopher J. "Culture, Rap Music, “Bitch,” and the Development of the Censorship Frame." American Behavioral Scientist 36-56 55.1 (2011). Print.

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