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° 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 ©



Grossberg detailed the successive steps used by the PMRC in its strategy: first, adolescents were assimilated to children; this implies they needed the security of definable boundaries, which eventually shifted the weight of social issues from adult society to youth culture. Typically, in her 1987 book, Tipper Gore's method was to describe social problems in extremely broad terms, e.g., on page 75: 'white males are most at risk for suicide', before making an (often erroneous) assertion about youth culture such as 'young white males are also the primary audience for heavy metal', and leaving the reader to draw his own conclusion: 'what happens when a confused, depressed adolescent picks up the album...?'

It followed that many social evils should have been avoided by a stricter control of their causes, i.e., in the PMRC's mind, the lyrics of certain songs. Not because of their contents per se (Tipper Gore herself admitted that many TV shows were more licentious) but because they subverted the ideological values of American society (something the 'hottest' TV programme will indeed never do). The PMRC studied several solutions for the information of parents and the protection of children: printing lyrics on record sleeves, removing from display records with 'lewd' sleeves, systematically monitoring radio and TV shows and above all, securing the spontaneous agreement of record companies to indicate by means of a code the general tenor of some records: V for violence, X for sexually explicit lyrics, O for occult, D/A for drug and alcohol, etc. 
According to the PMRC, it was time to put an end to the drift toward pornography in rock music.

Censorship and obscenity

Before going any further, the notions of pornography and obscenity need to be defined in the American context. The word pornography only has a common meaning, but obscenity also has a legal one. It describes a category of speech not protected by the First Amendment, namely speech about sex. However, as M. Heins noted, 'many legal scholars find no basis in history or logic for the "obscenity exception" to the First Amendment' (Heinz, p.17). Although other categories of speech initially left outside First Amendment protection were progressively included (libel in 1964, profanity in 1971), on the contrary, the stand against obscenity steadily hardened.

Though the first laws against obscenity were passed only at the end of the 19th century under the impulse of Anthony Comstock, founder of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, in the 20th century, the pace quickened and several Supreme Court rulings shaped the current definition of obscenity.

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° Rubrique About The World