Bleep! Censoring Rock and Rap Music

By Betty Houchin Winfield; Sandra Davidson | Go to book overview

1996, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton urged industry responsibility for their musical expression with internal censorship. These politicians' comments have been among the many adult attempts to control the rock and rap expressions by arguing the defense of children. The music may represent aesthetic and artistic freedom, but to such political leaders and many adults, the music also represents more than the musical sounds or the lyrics. The music embraces attitudes about urban life and how to respond to personal relationships and what to do, to social values and what to embrace. Such popular music aimed at youth has been, and will continue to be, political, with lyrics expressing attitudes about social mores, civil rights, racism, war participation, sexism, the environment, the urban blight, police brutality, and authority. Rock and rap music, representing the generational tension in western society, is a recurring conflict with attempts to censor, to "bleep" the message, the rock 'n' rap musical expression -- because of the children.


NOTES
1
Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 109 S. Ct. 2753 ( 1989); Citizens to Save WIFM v. Federal Communications Commission, 506 F.2d 246, 251 (D.C. Cir. 1974). See Cinevision Corp. v. City of Burbank, 745 F.2d 560, 567 (9th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1054 ( 1985) where the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed that "music is a form of expression that is protected by the First Amendment."
2
Schenck v. U.S., 249 U.S. 47 ( 1919).
3
Schad v. Borough of Mount Ephraim, 452 U.S. 61 ( 1981); Southeastern Promotions, Ltd. v. City of Atlanta, 334 F. Supp. 634 (N.D. Ga. 1971). See Cinevision Corp. v. City of Burbank, 745 F. 2d 560, 567 (9th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1054 ( 1985).
4
In 1984, the Record Industry Association of America showed that children aged 10 to 14 accounted for nine percent of all purchases of rock records, children 15 to 19 accounted for 22 percent, and the remaining records were purchased by buyers over 20 years of age. See Cecile Berry and David Wolin, "Comment, Regulating Rock Lyrics: A New Wave of Censorship?" Harvard Journal on Legislation 23:2 (Summer 1986): 606, which cites the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc., Inside the Recording Industty: A Statistical Overview 12 ( 1985).
5
Steve Jones, Rock Formation, Music, Technology, and Mass Communication: Foundations of Popular Culture, Vol. 3 (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1992), p. 2.
6
Anthony DeCurtis, "The Eighties", Present Tense, Rock & Roll and Culture, edited by Anthony DeCurtis ( Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992), p. 6.
7
Tipper Gore, Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society ( Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987), p. 22.
8
Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 ( 1973).
9
Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 638 ( 1968).
10
Luke Records, Inc. v. Navarro, 960 F.2d 134 (11th Cir. 1992).
11
Gitlow v. People of State of New York, 268 U.S. 652,45 S.Ct. 625, 69 L.Ed. 1138 ( 1925).
12
Marilyn J. Flood, "Lyrics and the Law: Censorship of Rock-and-Roll in the United States and Great Britain", New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law 12:3 (Fall 1991), 402.
13
James R. McDonald, "Censoring Rock Lyrics: A Historical Analysis of the Debate",

-18-

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