With a few friends, all married to heavy weight
politicians (Peatsy Hollings, wife of Sen.
Ernest Hollings, Ethelann Stuckey, married to
William Stuckey, a former Georgia congressman,
Sally Nevius, whose husband, John Nevius was a
member of the Washington City Council, Tipper
Gore, wife of Al Gore Jr., at the time senator
of Tennessee, now vice-president and Pam Howar,
spouse of the CEO of a major Washington
construction firm) she decided to create an
organisation in order to inform parents about
the pornographic contents of some rock records.
In May 1985, the Parents' Music Resource Center
was born. Its board of directors was constituted
of another 17 "Washington Wives",
married to senators, congressmen and Cabinet
officials along with a couple of businessmen's
spouses and an advisory board where one could
find Joseph Stuessy, a Professor of Music at the
University of Texas, the Honorable Andrew Young,
the Mayor of Atlanta, or TV host Sheila Walsh.
The PMRC was founded with the financial help of
Mike Love, from the Beach Boys, and of Joseph
Coors, the owner of Coors beers. Both had
actively supported Reagan's candidacy, and Coors
offered offices to the PMRC.
minister from Virginia, Rev. Jeff Ling, famous
for his 'slide-shows' denouncing sex and
violence in rock music, was enrolled to write
the abundant literature the PMRC intended to
publish. Several religious organisations offered
their logistical support: Teen Vision, from
Pittsburgh, Pat Robertson's 700 Club, and the
Religious Booksellers Convention (which
distributed Tipper Gore's book, Raising PG Kids
in an X-rated Society), though the PMRC denied
any ideological connection with these groups.
The PMRC's goals were clearly defined: 'to
educate and inform parents of this alarming new
trend...towards lyrics that are sexually
explicit' (PMRC, 1985, p.1). Such information
and education relied on a stricter enforcement
of obscenity laws (see infra) and on a less
permissive attitude (Susan Baker called it 'self-restraint')
from record companies. The PMRC thus rejected
the accusation of censorship: 'Pornography sold
to children is illegal, enforcing that is not
censorship. It is simply the act of a
responsible society that recognizes that some
material made available to adults is not
appropriate for children' (Baker, 1987, p.1).
Its purpose was to show the causal link between
rock music and social problems such as the
increase in rape, teen-age suicide or teen
pregnancies: 'It is our contention that
pervasive messages aimed at children which
promote and glorify suicide, rape and
sadomasochism have to be numbered among the
contributing factors' (Baker, 1985, p.20).
As Lawrence Grossberg put it, the PMRC aimed at
re-asserting control over the cultural
environment of children; the moral fabric of the
United States, its personal and family values
had to be rescued through the regulation of
youth's cultural consumption (p.193).