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Old December 28th, 2010, 6:50 am
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Music Censorship

I recently did a project for school on the censorship of music in America. I read the book Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America by Eric Nuzum. (If you're interested in music history, it's a really good read!) This book really brought up some good points on music censorship that interested me.

After reading this book I'm pretty much anti-censorship. Aside from popular mainstream radios since that's mainly what most kids listen to, I feel like music censorship really takes away many musicians artisitic rights and freedoms.

I also realized while reading this book how many forms music censorship can take:

Radio:
Boycotting radios was mostly popular in the 50's. This was around the time when people would write letters to radio stations telling them how some of the music they played was vulgar and distasteful. Radio stations usually would end up releasing a list of songs they wouldn't play anymore. Unfortunately, most of the time it was R&B music by African American artists, since their music was usually considered the most provocative. But white artists with the same messages in their songs would usually not be censored.

Album Artwork:
In the 60's, during the hippie-era, many of the colorful and physchedelic record covers were thought to promote drug use. One of the most famous examples of censoring an album's cover is the Beatles Yesterday and Today, otherwise known as the "butcher cover". This cover was a metaphor of how the Beatles' U.S. record company would butcher their albums and cut off one or two songs so they could compile a new record every couple of years to make a profit. The album covered depicted the Beatles in bloodied butcher smocks on and decapitated baby dolls all around them. This cover caused such a controversy that their record label pulled it after only a few weeks and replaced it was a new cover. Nowadays, retail chains like Wal-Mart won't sell an album if the cover art might offend some people are can be considered controversial. So many times record companies will release two different album covers; one that can be sold in places like Wal-Mart and another for music stores and record shops. This has been a huge battle between bands and their labels.

Lyrics:
Lyrics have been debated over for many years. This was one of the PMRC's (Parent Music Resource Center) biggest battles with musicians. They blamed lyrics that contained violence, drug/alchocol references, or sexual themes on problems with teens. (Think of the Columbine shooting. Marilyn Mason was blamed there.) Songs were pulled off the radio because of their lyrics, or off TV. Lyrics were the main driving force behind the infamous "Parental Advisory" sticker that now warns parents to never buy this CD for your kid, and tells kids this is exactly the type of thing to buy to make their parents mad.

Music Videos:
MTV was first introduced in the 1980's. Those were the days of the first music videos and first controversies surrounding them. In communities across America, many people wanted MTV pulled from their cable block so that kids wouldn't see the many different questionable themes portrayed in music videos. And MTV became it's own censor. Eventually MTV required music videos to come with a lyric sheet so they could view them before airing them. MTV also reviewed every single music video to make sure it was suitable for television. If the video was deemed unsuitable, it would be sent back to a record company for an edit until it was finally appropriate to be shown. One famous example of this is the video for Madonna's Justify My Love. The video was oringally set to premiere in MTV's "Madonnathon", but when it was viewed it was thought to be too provocative. Madonna refused to edit it, and it is still not seen on MTV to this day.

So, I'd like to know everyone's opinion on music censorship and the different forms it takes. Do you find it ridiculous or acceptable? Thoughts?


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  #2  
Old February 3rd, 2011, 12:58 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

As long as there are still uncensored versions freely available, I don't really care. I own albums with artwork and lyrics that have been censored/banned in some countries but if I can still have them, it doesn't matter to me.
Rammstein's latest album had to be sold under the counter in some parts of the world but I doubt that impacted on sales or put anyone off. If anything it makes it more taboo and 'cool'.
If I'm ever (heaven forbid) listening to the radio I think it's perfectly fine for them to censor whatever they like. It's their business and if people want to find un-bleeped versions of songs, they have the internet. Artwork is something I'm a bit more interested in, but again, as long as it's still available, I don't mind.


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Old February 3rd, 2011, 11:38 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

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Originally Posted by Hysteria View Post
As long as there are still uncensored versions freely available, I don't really care. I own albums with artwork and lyrics that have been censored/banned in some countries but if I can still have them, it doesn't matter to me.
Rammstein's latest album had to be sold under the counter in some parts of the world but I doubt that impacted on sales or put anyone off. If anything it makes it more taboo and 'cool'.
If I'm ever (heaven forbid) listening to the radio I think it's perfectly fine for them to censor whatever they like. It's their business and if people want to find un-bleeped versions of songs, they have the internet. Artwork is something I'm a bit more interested in, but again, as long as it's still available, I don't mind.
I don't mind that radio stations play censored versions of songs either. Just as long as fans who like the uncensored versions can get a hold of them too.

One of the best examples is of Aerosmith's 'Janie's got a gun'... I'm not really a fan of the censored version and was glad to find the uncensored version on Itunes.


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  #4  
Old February 4th, 2011, 6:06 am
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Re: Music Censorship

Eminem's "Kim" should have never been put unto production. He has a song about specifically murdering her. Apparently that's perfectly fine when expressing it in an art form. If I were to tell someone I dislike that I fantasize doing what is mentioned in "Kim" and I was reported, I'd be arrested and charged with a terroristic threat. That song is so extreme that the murder of a child is censored on the explicit album.


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Old February 7th, 2011, 3:18 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

I'm against censorship, it doesn't matter how violent and 'horrible' it is. Music is art (but some music doesn't really seem like it xD) and art should not be censored.


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Old February 7th, 2011, 11:10 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

Music censorship--some is ridiculous and some is acceptable. It's one thing to censor the actual song, it's another to censor the airing of a song or video. I'm okay with songs being edited for a cleaned up radio version when airing on the radio and I'm okay with songs and music videos being edited, cleaned up, or banned from MTV (well the channels that do play music videos), but in selling songs and music videos the unedited version should be available. Most of the time I prefer the edited version when it's covering up dirty words (like saying fudge instead of the other word or just silencing it out all together), but when it's covering up ideas (like if it changed the lyrics to something about sex to something about cleaning the house or something) then I prefer the unedited version.


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Old February 8th, 2011, 6:52 am
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Re: Music Censorship

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
Eminem's "Kim" should have never been put unto production. He has a song about specifically murdering her. Apparently that's perfectly fine when expressing it in an art form. If I were to tell someone I dislike that I fantasize doing what is mentioned in "Kim" and I was reported, I'd be arrested and charged with a terroristic threat. That song is so extreme that the murder of a child is censored on the explicit album.
I don't believe in censorship... But this song is one of the few exceptions. I'll listen to Eminem, but even 'Kim' is wayyyyy too far for me. Should've never been put in production.

What if his daughter finds the song when she gets older? This is the problem I have with this song


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Old February 8th, 2011, 8:40 am
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Re: Music Censorship

Oh, how I loathe the Bowdlerisation of songs in 'radio mixes' and shows like Glee.

Provided no laws are broken there is no artform that should be restricted.


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Old February 8th, 2011, 10:10 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight
Eminem's "Kim" should have never been put unto production. He has a song about specifically murdering her. Apparently that's perfectly fine when expressing it in an art form. If I were to tell someone I dislike that I fantasize doing what is mentioned in "Kim" and I was reported, I'd be arrested and charged with a terroristic threat. That song is so extreme that the murder of a child is censored on the explicit album.
I don't believe in censorship... But this song is one of the few exceptions. I'll listen to Eminem, but even 'Kim' is wayyyyy too far for me. Should've never been put in production.

What if his daughter finds the song when she gets older? This is the problem I have with this song
Strongly disagree, maybe I just have a strong stomache, but this isn't really THAT bad, and I see it kinda as a parody, it sounds like satire to me...


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Old February 8th, 2011, 10:45 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

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Strongly disagree, maybe I just have a strong stomache, but this isn't really THAT bad, and I see it kinda as a parody, it sounds like satire to me...
Given his history with the woman, satire doesn't fit at all. It's serious in tone, so that rules out satire as well. All of his other songs about killing have humorous lyrics, like "Kill Me." "Kim" doesn't.


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Old February 9th, 2011, 1:30 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

I just think it sounds way too sarcastic to take it seriou. but I don't know Eminem, I just looked it up because everyone is talking about it here. At least one thing is clear: It's an extreme weird song...


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Old February 13th, 2011, 12:54 am
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Re: Music Censorship

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Originally Posted by Wab View Post
Oh, how I loathe the Bowdlerisation of songs in 'radio mixes' and shows like Glee.
I don't mind edited versions for radio too much as long as it's just for language, and as long as I can get the uncensored version. I hate owning censored versions of things, because I feel it detracts from the art.

But I really don't like versions that change the lyrics in a way that changes their meaning. If an artist or production company finds the implication of a song objectionable, maybe they just shouldn't make a cover of that song.

For example, in the Who song "My Generation," there's a line that goes, "I hope I die before I get old." When Hilary Duff did a cover of the song, it was changed to, "I hope I don't die before I get old." The song is about youth counterculture and not being understood by the older generation. The line in the original fits with the rest of the lyrics and the era it was written in. In the remake, the changed lyric makes no sense.


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Old March 4th, 2011, 6:02 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

Aside from libellous statements and incitements to commit crimes, no music should be censored unless the performer agrees.


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Old March 4th, 2011, 10:38 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

Well, that's the thing. Where do we draw that line as to what's overboard, or libelous, or inciting criminal behavior? It's a subjective thing.

Similarly, I've always hated that some people blame video games for violence, being that I used to love playing Doom, Quake, and other FPSes. Usually their argument is just ridiculous, such as saying that playing "Doom" is like target practice (using a mouse is nothing like using a gun) and that it desensitizes you to killing people (they're cartoony pixels, not people). Such silly knee-jerk reactions ruin the credibility for a viewpoint that may have some merit in some cases.

Some songs I've heard written in the past few years seem pretty hateful and I could see that glorifying or justifying violence might very well influence some people, probably mostly teens or college kids. Seems like I'm hearing of more school violence in the news everyday.
Satire or humor is fine, but if the lyrics are dead serious, that could be a problem.

Censorship can and will never replace good parenting, but maybe in lieu of it.. if used judiciously in extreme cases, and only for airplay, not sales, it might not be such an evil thing. What's so artistic about ranting like a lunatic and going on how much you want to kill someone?
There's another subjective line - what defines "art" in some cases, vs, say, hate speech or noise?


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Old March 5th, 2011, 12:01 am
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Re: Music Censorship

I cant understand the 'need' to censor some songs over others. For example, it's ok to play a song like Dirty Talk by Wynter Gordon or Rhianna's S+M (I wont link them since they're not FF but look up the lyrics if you're not familiar) but not ok to play a song with the 's-word' on daytime radio.... so on or two swear words are somehow 'worse' than detailed sexual acts.
I'm not one who thinks we should be ashamed of sex/sexual references in media at all, I just think that if radio stations decide what we listen to, surely a word with one or two curse words is less offensive to our ears than hearing Rihanna talking about what she uh 'likes'.


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Old March 5th, 2011, 3:35 am
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Re: Music Censorship

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Originally Posted by Grymmditch View Post
Well, that's the thing. Where do we draw that line as to what's overboard, or libelous, or inciting criminal behavior? It's a subjective thing.
It's not. There's masses of legislation and legal precedent of what constitutes libel and incitement.


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Old March 5th, 2011, 3:48 am
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Re: Music Censorship

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It's not. There's masses of legislation and legal precedent of what constitutes libel and incitement.
As I said in one of my posts, art gets a pass. I cited Eminem's "Kim" as an example. I mean, even some famous talking heads, particularly Ann Coulter, are not prosecuted for the wishing of someone to be killed (John Edwards). She said this on national television!


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Old March 5th, 2011, 4:04 am
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Re: Music Censorship

Coulter may have wished that Edwards be killed but that fall far short of incitement.


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Old March 5th, 2011, 12:07 pm
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Re: Music Censorship

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Originally Posted by Wab View Post
Oh, how I loathe the Bowdlerisation of songs in 'radio mixes' and shows like Glee.
I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of Bowdlerisation, either, but I think anything that gets played on the radio is probably already an artistic compromise - the artist has probably already had to shorten it from what they consider the ideal length to turn it into a 3 minute radio edit and has had to select material and an arrangement that is commercial enough for a single release in the first place (often with a lot of these decisions being made by the record label). I don't see that being forced to take a couple of rude words out is any more of a compromise to their artistic integrity.

As for Glee (which I've never knowingly watched), again, why is altering a few of the words any different to other changes made when a cover version is produced (e.g. a change in the musical arrangement, a singer of a different gender to the original singer changing the gender of the pronouns in the song etc)? Surely, if you give your permission for a cover version to be made, you have to give up control over what's done with it? Yes, it may be murdering the message that the original artist intended, but isn't any cover artist recycling the song to give a new message?

Quote:
Posted by Grymmditch
Some songs I've heard written in the past few years seem pretty hateful and I could see that glorifying or justifying violence might very well influence some people, probably mostly teens or college kids. Seems like I'm hearing of more school violence in the news everyday.
Satire or humor is fine, but if the lyrics are dead serious, that could be a problem.
For me, a problem with both the pro- and anti-censorship arguments is that you don't know how an individual listener is going to interpret a song.

The problem with satire or when the lyrics are supposed to be the voice of an assumed persona is that the individual listener may not be sophisticated enough to get that.

The example I'm thinking of is Cookbook DIY by FunDaMental, which was banned in the UK for allegedly glorifying Al-Qaeda and terrorism. I've always thought this was ridiculous and that anyone with half a brain who actually listened to the song the whole way through would know it was doing no such thing (aside from the glaring fact that Al-Qaeda are not exactly known for their approval of music...).

But then, I suppose there is an argument to be made that if the censors and the media weren't clever enough to realise what the song was about (and thought it was horrifying), there is a danger that sections of the audience would also think it was glorifying terrorism and think that was really good.

But then again, if they were going to react like that, they were probably already messed up and one song isn't going to make a great difference.

Also, sometimes people will read messages of hate into lyrics that are basically innocuous - you can't ban everything, just in case someone takes it the wrong way.

Quote:
Posted by Hysteria
I cant understand the 'need' to censor some songs over others. For example, it's ok to play a song like Dirty Talk by Wynter Gordon or Rhianna's S+M (I wont link them since they're not FF but look up the lyrics if you're not familiar) but not ok to play a song with the 's-word' on daytime radio.... so on or two swear words are somehow 'worse' than detailed sexual acts.
I'm not one who thinks we should be ashamed of sex/sexual references in media at all, I just think that if radio stations decide what we listen to, surely a word with one or two curse words is less offensive to our ears than hearing Rihanna talking about what she uh 'likes'.
That's a good point. It particularly annoys me that pre-pubescent girls are actively encouraged to listen to music that encourages them to view themselves as sex objects, and that's apparently perfectly OK, but a song with one mild swear word in it isn't.


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Old March 6th, 2011, 8:09 am
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Re: Music Censorship

No comment Best to leave this be.


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