This is a particularly controversial and entertaining episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Topics include the fear of censorship, controversial lyrics in music, the parental advisory sticker, and the potential for certain music to promote anarchy, racism and sexism—whether it was the artist's intention or not. The panelists include Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Ice-T, Tipper Gore of the Parents Music Resouce Center, Juan Williams (then of The Washington Post,) music critic Nelson George and Rabbi Abraham Cooper. Before we watch, it's important to familiarize ourselves with some of the albums mentioned on this program. Click the album title and you will be redirected to a review from the finest critics in the world at www.allmusic.com. Without a doubt, these reviewers "know their shit" more than anyone.
Frankenchrist (partial album) by Dead Kennedys
And, finally—I'd never thought I'd say this—let's watch The Oprah Winfrey Show. It's divided into four parts.
Here's my take. Frankly, I don't care. I'm 23, I don't have kids and my seven year old cousin curses more than I do. That said, I don't think this is a censorship issue and I'm completely in favor of the "Parental Advisory" sticker. If certain movies can have an R-rating, then I don't see the problem in having essentially the same system for music. One criticism I do have—and it is the same issue I have with the MPAA— is that the sticker is often used too liberally and unfairly.
I'd like for everyone to keep this in mind. Artists and musicians are pretty much exactly like screenwriters and actors. They take on characters and write stories. Both, more often than not, produce works of complete fiction. No matter how biographical they sound, song lyrics, in no way, indicate definitively what an artist's belief or ideology is. Sometimes the line between satire and realism is much more difficult to see in music—particularly because you aren't seeing anything. Whether his or her point is obvious or obtuse, I will always take the artist's perspective as the song's true meaning.
Hey!—feel free to comment below. I feel like I'm distributing a magazine on the moon. If you're out there, I wanna hear your perspective.