To make sure the decision would be enforced,
cashiers were compelled to enter the customer's
ID and their own into a computer system for each
purchase. Those policies were very often adopted
under direct pressure from mall developers whose
leases frequently stipulate that no obscene
material can be sold within the malls.
need to maintain good relations with local
authorities has also to be taken into
consideration. Thus the owner and operator of
two Hoguild Records stores in San Antonio
declared that his official line, when
interviewed by local papers, was to say he did
not carry any of the labeled albums as he
expected police forces to keep on helping him in
case of a burglary.
Though admittedly the PMRC did not officially
endorse these practises, it nevertheless stated
in its Spring/Summer 1991 Newsletter that it
supported 'the individual policies of retailers
relating to "18-to-purchase"' (p.2).
As a consequence, an increasing number of record
companies became extremely wary in their
artistic choices and tried to reduce to a
minimum the production of records which would
logically have had to carry the advisory tag.
Alternatively, they tried to persuade artists on
their roster to sanitize their lyrics and render
them more acceptable commercially, using as
standards records that had already passed the
test of the censors.
only exceptions were for chart-toppers like
Prince or independent record companies, in rap
mostly, for whom the advisory label may have
served as a kind of advertisement, mostly in an
ironic or sarcastic tone. But this remained
exceptional (for instance 'Parental Advisory:
Explicit Lyrics' by George Carlin, on Eardrum /
Atlantic or "Parental Advisory: Explicit
Rap", on Priority Records).
All things considered, then, labeling can hardly
be considered as anything but censorship,
although an elegant one, disguised as consumer
information. And as Charles Krauthammer wrote, 'Who's
against consumer information?' (1985, p. A27)
The PMRC's insistance on labeling triggered
unofficial though effective forms of censorship,
from refusing to sell to refusing to record or
produce artists whose lyrics were considered
scandalous or licentious, whatever their
artistic or social value.