Banned and Censored Music Banned and Censored Music The discussion of whether or not the censorship of music is constitutionally sound has come about. This problem has been around since the beginning of music in one way or another. The fact of the matter is that there is technically no such thing as the censorship of music in the United States(Banned Music 1). Although that is supposedly the case, that statement can be very misleading. It is stated in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that every American is granted the Freedom Of Speech.
This includes all musicians. Contrary to this statement, there has been a numerous amount of cases in which a song or music group has been banned of either their right to perform their act on stage, or the sale of their album has been condemned as illegal. The troubling fact about music censorship is that music is considered to be an art form, and there are certain laws set up to protect art from being censored. People should have the right to choose what type of music they want to listen to in this country. Censorship is the control of what people may say or hear, write or read, or see or do. Censorship can affect books, newspapers, magazines, motion pictures, radio and television programs, and speeches.” (World Book 345) Most of the early problems with the censorship of music came about in the early 1950’s. This was the first real era of rock and roll in America.
In 1954 a Michigan Congresswoman tried to pass a bill that stated that the mailing of any explicit or pornographic album could lead to some hefty jail time, up to five years if convicted. When looking back, the 50’s had some of the most laughable incidences when songs were banned. There was a Billie Holiday song by the name of “Love For Sale,” none of the radio stations were allowed to play it because of its strong sexual content and its depiction of prostitution. In even a funnier case there was a song by the name of “Transfusion” banned because it was felt that a blood transfusion was not a laughing matter. Perhaps the most farcical form of censorship in the 50’s came about in 1957 when Elvis Presley was scheduled to perform on the Ed Sullivan show.
Cameramen were instructed not to film any of Elvis’s lower body because his dancing was considered inappropriate for the viewing audience(Elvis To Ice-T 3). What is so offensive about that to have it censored from the public. Times have changed though, today we just sit back and laugh at that type of censorship. The 1960’s brought about a new wave of censorship. During the 1960’s, popular music diversified, and so did the censors.
Although the censorship supposedly diversified, the uncalled-for censorship of certain music continued. In 1964 the state of Indiana banned the song ” Louie Louie” because they felt that it had some sexual content in it. But if you listen to the words it is obvious that sexual content is no where to be found. In 1967, the Rolling Stones were forced to change the lyrics of a song in order to perform it on national television because, of course, it had sexual content. The song was called “Let’s Spend The Night Together” and they were forced to say “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” Later that decade John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s album “Two Virgin’s” featured a naked picture of the two.
These albums were confiscated before they even had a chance to hit the record stores. There was one Chicago retailer shut down by the vice squad for carrying this album(The 1960s 1). A piece of art is destroyed if altered. What would Michael Angelos’ famous sculpture “The Thinker” be like if somebody carved clothes on to him. it wouldn’t be what he attended and therefore the art piece would loose most of its significance. People often times do not get offended as easily as they use to.
In the early 1990’s an album released by Nirvana featured a naked baby on the cover. There was very little controversy over the cover and there was no ban of the record sale. Unlike the 1950s, the 60s proved to have a few more controversial topics. That goes to show how people change their views about morality as time passes. The 1970s proved to have just as many controversial cases about censorship, as the fifties and sixties.
In April of 1971 Officials in Illinois released a list of popular music that contained drug references. The list included the popular children’s song “Puff The Magic Dragon” and the Beatles “Yellow Submarine,” (The 1970s 1) This is so absurd. These officials must really have had a lot of time on their hands to sit around and turn around the words to these wonderful children songs. If somebody wanted they could depict violating thoughts or images out of many different forms of art. The censorship of music only increased as the years passed by.
In 1981 Olivia Newton John’s song “Physical” was banned because it was believed to have strong sexual content and this was considered to be more than inappropriate for the Mormon religion. 1985 brought about one of the most prominent groups to support censorship in music. This group was the Parents Music Resource Group. This group was headed by Tipper Gore. This group was later named the Parents Music Resource Center.
The PMRC’s primary focus was getting record companies to monitor and rate their artist’s releases with a system similar to the MPAA system for movies. This group brought about some problems about two types of music, rap and heavy metal. The PMRC hit them so hard that it became very hard to find a rap or heavy metal record in stores. In order to get around this many record labels released two versions of the same album, one was the original album and the second one was an edited version. The PMRC created a type of stickering system. Under the sticker system if an album was believed to be inappropriate, a sticker would be placed on the album cover. This sticker would indicate that the album should not be purchased by anyone under the age of eighteen due to explicit lyrics or violent behavior.
This was a big step backwards for those who were against the censorship of music. This stickering system did not include the censorship of pornography. In 1987 a singer by the name of Jello Biafra was arrested for the distribution of pornography. He had a picture of a naked lady on the co …