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Music Censorship

I heard this song on the internet and I liked it. I called the local radio station to request the song. I turn on my radio, I hear the lyrics that have been altered and the tempo is slower. I’m asking myself, “Is this the song I heard online?” I decided to look up the lyrics for the song. I follow along with the song on the radio and the lyrics on my screen. The radio version does not match with the original song except for the lines of the chorus. Frustrated I realized the song was censored.
Censoring as defined by the Webster Dictionary is “to delete anything considered objectionable.” Music censorship is present in all music genres today. Censoring music is a controversial subject because it focuses on what the musician, record company and producer could have done before it was censored. Reasons for censorship are as follows; lyrical meaning, music video content, religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual content, performances or race discrepancy. Since the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, it has caused more people to be worry about what is released through music. People should be informed about the censorship in the music industry and assess of what is appropriate and inappropriate. Freemuse.org is a website that is about why music censorship is not important worldwide. Art is defined by Webster Dictionary is “a skill acquired by experience.” Censoring music is destroying an art of musician. Censoring music is an example of political correctness because it is changing wording in songs not to offend anybody.
The Constitution of the United States, The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (“The Constitution of the United States”). Music Censorship should be supported to a point where content is no greater than a Mature Rating. Setting a limit on music makes parents aware of what their children listen to and purchase. CD sales that are mature in content are often labeled with a black and white Parental Advisory logo that is displayed on the bottom right hand corner of a CD. Most musicians often release a clean version of their album that removes the logo. Musicians are asked permission from Wal-Mart to release clean versions in their stores. Popular punk band, Green Day refused to change any content from their 21st Century Breakdown album to have Wal-Mart sell it. The parental advisory logo makes it harder for minors to buy CD’s without parental consent but at the same time some stores don’t ask minors to verify their age. Not forcing this verification will give minors being exposed to mature content that might produce to follow what the music is telling them.
Musicians have the right to express what they want to say in their music and chose what is shown in their music videos. Songs played on airwave are often edited to remove profanity, violence, and offensive words before the radio stations release the song. These versions are known as radio edited. For example, Pretty Ricky’s 2006 song, “On the Hotline” was edited because of inappropriate lyrics and content. British musician, M.I.A.’s 2008 song “Paper Planes” was altered because of gun shots in the chorus to cash register sounds because it might promote murder and violence. M.I.A was angered in the change because she thought that her song was more appropriate than what she usually releases. Musicians have the right to say anything but when released to the public they should take extra precautions on who interprets their lyrics as some may be unsuitable for children. A lot of musicians draw people with upbeat tempos and rhythms to promote their sales. Radio edited songs destroy the artists work yet are necessary to promote CD sales. Yet musicians will do retaliate if they feel they were offended by the change.
Music videos are usually the director or the musicians’ vision. They are often edited with the same with the same reasons mentioned above; religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual content, or race discrepancy. However, music videos have been censored for a lot of sexual content. “Body Language” by Queen, was the first music video to be banned by MTV because of homosexual content in the video. “Lovegame” by Lady Gaga was banned in several countries because of scenes of her naked as well as the line repeated multiple times through the song. Following the launch of MTV 2 on television, they released a special program of MTV’s 20 Most Controversial Videos that was showed at late night time spots. Some of the videos were, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam, “Stan” by Eminem, “Justify my Love” by Madonna, and other videos (“MTV’s Most Controversial Videos”). Some videos that had too much sexual content were released online such as Marilyn Manson’s “Heart Shaped Glasses” as it showed him and his girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood at what appears to be stimulating sex as well as both of them being covered in blood. Panic at the Disco’s "Build God, Then We'll Talk” video mimics a pornographic relationship. Artists release music videos as a way to promote their song to the public. It could be also used to show the musician’s interpretation of the song which is usually misinterpreted by others. I viewed all the music videos mentioned above and was appalled with the content. The music videos released on to television would make parents worry what their children are watching and what these musicians would be promoting. The music videos made question my liking of the musician. If they want to have people buy their album they have to keep precautions on who will interpret their music.
Can controversies be prevented? What can we do? To avoid controversies, musicians should be cautious on their performances, lyrics and music videos. Radio stations and broadcasting companies should enforce limits to avoid censorship. Before each song there should be a brief explanation of what type of content is in the video or song. This should be a similar system to the MPAA ratings shown before movies. For award ceremonies musicians should communicate with the network producers, the host, and the award ceremony crew on what they are planning to show their talent and how they are going on their ideas. They should also be concerned on time slots as to keep family orientated. Small things could prevent censorship controversies.



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