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

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!"

 

Motley Crue: "Bastard": This song is about someone killing their father. The character in the song kills the father because at the end, as the song states, "don't you try to rape me." However, the PMRC stayed silent when it came to Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun." Even though the band changed some of the lyrics such as "he raped a little bitty baby" to "he jacked a little bitty baby," among others.

It's still understood that "jacked" is (in this case) slang for a sexual act, virtually the same theme. Remember, the PMRC was active into the '90s as well. It's surprising that they did not blast "Janie's Got a Gun."

AC/DC, "Let Me Put My Love Into You": In "Let Me Put My Love Into You," the lead singer propositions a lady. You know what other song talks about propositioning a lady? "Feel All My Love Inside" by Marvin Gaye, which also features orgasmic moans. I don't see why the PMRC wasn't going after some of the more popular artists from their younger years.

Twisted Sister, "We're Not Gonna Take It": The PMRC blasted this song because they deemed it too violent. However, there's no real violence in this song except for in the video, which is more slapstick-ish violence. It makes me wonder if they had even considered Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2," which is a rather sinister approach as far as violence goes. A later example of a far worse song lyrically is "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses, where lead singer Axl Rose exclaims, "I wanna watch you bleed!"

Madonna, "Dress You Up": The PMRC gave this Madonna classic an "S" rating. However, one must wonder why Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," which is far more explicit lyrically, did not get the same letter. Whereas Madonna says "gonna dress you up in my love/ All over your body/ Feel the silky touch of my caresses/ They will keep you looking so brand new/ Let me cover you with velvet kisses/ I'll create a look that's made for you" she really doesn't get explicit.

However, Gaye says things like "Come take control, just grab a hold/ Of my body and mind, soon we'll be making it, honey/ I'll be feeling fine, the way you heal me/ The way you thrill me, keep me comin' to you/ For you to sexually fulfill me/ You're my medicine, open up and let me in/ Darling, you're so great, I can't wait for you to operate" and "Please don't procrastinate/ it's not good to masturbate." That's pretty explicit.

Mary Jane Girls, "In My House" by Though this song was targeted, the band went on record on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '80s saying the song is about love, not sex.

Cyndi Lauper, "She Bop": "She-Bop": Clearly about masturbation. However, so is "Pictures of Lily" by the Who, where a boy gets a picture of a deceased actress from his father and gratifies himself every night before he goes to sleep. Same subject, yet only one is getting pointed out as objectionable. How subjective of the PMRC.

Mercyful Fate, "Into the Coven": Lyrically, this is an ode to Satan. I would definitely not play this on the radio, but still leave it up to the listener.

Venom, "Possessed": Once again, a song that mentions worshipping the devil. Although this type of metal is very much a niche market as far as the music scene as a whole goes, I can see why parents would worry.

 

Black Sabbath, "Trashed" Yes, this maybe a song about getting wasted, but how many other rock songs (and even country) talk about getting wasted but aren't on this list? Plenty.

W.A.S.P., "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)": "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)" is about masturbation with a little sadomasochism thrown in. I can totally see why the PMRC would want to ban this one.

Def Leppard, "High N Dry (Saturday Night)": Def Leppard's ode to getting high. But you know what other song is about drugs? "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Gold Dust Woman" by Fleetwood Mac and countless others. But all those songs were released before the PMRC decided to combat music indecency.


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