Philagora Espace Decouverte

PHILAGORA Decouvertes, tourisme culturel, loisirs, enfants

° TOURISME Vacances, mer, soleil, montagne, campagne

° ART - Expositions, Musées, Artistes

° Contes pour enfants

° Espace Jean Joubert Écrivain et poète, prix Renaudot

° A la découverte des langues régionales: Occitan Gascon Catalan

° Je cherche un EMPLOI

° Découvrez les 17 villages de l'Archipel des métiers d'art en Languedoc-Roussillon


° Art de vivre et gastronomie

° ABOUT the World articles en anglais


° Recommandez philagora à vos amis

° Philagora tous droits réservés

° Respect de la vie privée


° Contact

° Publicité


° Rubrique About The World

ABOUT The World ...  

Par Claude Chastagner, professeur d'anglais à l'Université Paul Valéry à Montpellier.

  The Parent's Music Resource Center from information to censorship. 

Site Philagora, tous droits réservés ©



"I knew a girl named Nikki [...] I met her in a hotel lobby she was masturbating with a magazine"
(Prince, 'Darling Nikki', Purple Rain, Warner Bros., 1985)

My purpose in this article is to recount the history of the Parents' Music Resource Center, an American organisation founded in 1985 whose main concern has been to denounce the obscenity and violence of rock music on the grounds that it is partly responsible for the numerous ills that plague the United States. The PMRC claimed that it only wished to inform the public but I intend to prove here that the actions of the organisation resulted in a de facto censorship of popular music. I shall accordingly describe the various steps of the process that led from information to censorship as well as probe the deeper reasons that may have motivated the action of the Center.

There is a tendency in Europe to consider with condescension the numerous and recurrent assaults on freedom of expression in the United States (even though, writes Donna Demac, most Americans 'believe that the United States is virtually free of [censorship]' or that it is 'less severe than ... elsewhere in the world' [p.3]). Until recently, many Europeans (and I for one) felt confident that such a situation could not develop to the same extent in their countries. Admittedly, several factors are specific to the United States: the puritan origin of the American settlement, and what traces remain, the adoption of the First Amendment inscribing freedom of speech within the frame of the Constitution, the exceptions to this Amendment and the conflicts that ensued, the often extremely radical character taken by artistic expression in America, the extent of discriminatory practises against minorities, etc. 
Europeans were consequently tempted to  dismiss the steady erosion of individual liberties in the United States as a unique case. There are however disquieting similarities that justify a careful assessment of the American context.

At first sight, the European situation may indeed seem quite different. In France, for instance, despite the traditional heavy hand of the State, censorship only remains in the motion picture industry (the revised 1990 Act) and for children's books and magazines (the 1949 Act).  Undoubtedly the threat exists of encroachment upon other categories of speech. Such has been the case with clause 14 of the 1949 Act which stipulates that any book or magazine of sexual or violent character must be removed from display. Though it was originally meant to protect the children, clause 14 has been used 4716 times against adults' publications since 1949. Typically, in 1994, a scholarly book by art critic Jacques Henric was in some cities seized on the grounds that its cover showed 'L'origine du monde', a famous, once secret painting by Courbet that represents the naked vulva of a reclining woman.

So far, however, the music scene has been virtually free from any kind of censorship, formal or not, despite the occasional uproar caused by French artist Serge Gainsbourg ('Je t'aime... moi non plus' in 1969, 'La décadanse' in 1971 or 'Love on the beat' in 1984) or contemporary French rappers (Doc Gyneco for instance, who was all the same awarded a 'Victoire de la Musique', the French equivalent to a Grammy or Brit Award). The only recent instance of official interference was the ban on rap group NTM for abuse to police forces during a 1996 concert.

 - Pages - 1 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15


° Rubrique About The World