Parental Advisory! Another Look at the PMRC's "Dirty 15"

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In 1985, the Parental Music Resource Center was formed as basically a watchdog group over popular music. Essentially, their goal was censorship.

However, there was one big problem: The group was made up of the likes of Tipper Gore (wife of then-Senator and future Vice President Al Gore), Susan Baker (wife of then-Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III), Pam Howar (wife of realtor Raymond Howar) and Sally Nevius (wife of former Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius).

These "Washington Wives" had some big ties to the U.S. Senate, enough to convince the upper half of Congress to hold a hearing about music's effects on young people. With it they made a list of what they considered to be the 15 dirtiest songs in the nation at the time. However, that list was both flawed and, in hindsight, subjective.

Prince, "Darling Nikki": "Darling Nikki" is a supposed sex fiend Prince sings about in the movie Purple Rain. In Eric D. Nuzman's 2001 book, Parental Advisory, the author makes an excellent argument by saying "she'd come home and play the album in front of her four children (ages 11, eight, six, and two) without first listening to the album to determine if the lyrics and themes were appropriate for her children. Then, when she felt embarrassed about the album's contents, she got mad."

The film was rated R. You would think that for any parent, if they knew what the rating is of the actual film of the soundtrack they are buying, they would use the proper discretion. That's plain irresponsibility. In other words, be a parent.

Sheena Easton, "Sugar Walls": In "Sugar Walls" Easton sings about helping a man achieve orgasm. However, the PMRC failed to see that there was an equally dirty song out there, even though it wasn't released as a single: "I Love You (Miss Robot)" by the Buggles. In that song, they talk about being turned on by something not even human -- a machine.

Judas Priest, "Eat Me Alive": Yes, this does at one point say "I'm gonna force you at gunpoint" -- which is absolutely no laughing matter because, from what I interpret, that sounds like rape. So yes, I would ban this song from the airwaves but not from a record.


Vanity, "Strap On Robbie Baby": Now this particular piece is no worse than many of the disco songs that were released before this song. If you look at Anita Bryant's "Ring My Bell" it is almost the same lyrically. Bryant croons "You can ring my bell/ You can ring my bell/ ding, dong, ding, ah-ah, ring it!"

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3 comments
Clay Wisner
Clay Wisner

If only the music industry had Monsanto lobbyists to fight the "Parental Advisory" labeling! 

Christinalynn
Christinalynn

totally. To me this was an attack on free speech guised under the "family values" banner. 

Cory Garcia
Cory Garcia

I've always been fascinated by the Gore/Lieberman ticket of '00, because it's kind of the "get rid of fun" nightmare scenario. Gore's wife as part of the PMRC, Lieberman's well known dislike of video game... kind of a scary ticket for a 15 year old.

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