Rock Fans Fight Censorship
Desrosiers, Mary, The Progressive
Music activists are taking on parental advisory stickers--those little black and white labels that appear on CDs marketed to young listeners.
The stickers read PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT LYRICS and are put in place by the CD manufacturer under an agreement reached in 1989 between the Parents' Music Resource Center and the Recording Industry Association of America.
The intent seemed innocent enough: to give parents advance notice that some of the lyrics on the disc might contain explicit, offensive, or obscene language. The effect, however, has been creeping censorship--not only of language but of ideas.
"You have music containing the f-word and other sexually explicit language. That's predictable," says Rick Montone, manager of a Strawberry's music franchise in Keene, New Hampshire. "But there's another category of stickered music that has to do with actions." Lyrics about sex, drugs, or politics that some find objectionable get stickered. Most CDs by African-American rap and hip-hop artists carry the stickers, Montone says.
"The real motive behind these advisories seems to be to get offensive music off the shelves, since seven legislatures are currently considering bills forbidding sales of stickered CDs to minors, and/or divestiture of state funds from companies that manufacture offensive music CDs and videos," says John Woods of the Ohio-based educational and lobbying organization Rock Out Censorship. …