I worked in a record store when the Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics labels started being put on record albums. I could (and probably will) write a post just about that whole experience, but this is about a specific issue.
I owned two albums that illustrate the problem I have with these labels. One is an album from a band called Ministry. The album is called “The Land of Rape and Honey.” The other is from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That album is called “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”.
The Ministry album does not have a Parental Advisory sticker on it, but the RHCP album does.
The Ministry album has a song with lyrics about extreme violence – about ripping someone’s head off and defecating on them, because they hate them. There are many uses of the F word.
The RHCP album has nothing of the sort. There is no violence. I listened to the album very carefully and the only thing I can see that might have been the issue is a song about having consensual sex with a female police officer on the hood of her patrol car.
Murder isn’t legal. Talking about murder in a song is legal.
Sex is legal. Talking about sex in a song is illegal.
Do you see the problem with this?
If we want to protect children from learning about things they aren’t ready to handle, I’d think glorifying murder would be tops on the list.
Both involve activities between two people. I can understand putting a label on an album that has a song that glorifies rape. But consensual sex? That is illegal to sing about.
Now, to be really honest, I think that the labels aren’t the issue. I think that parents need to parent their children. I think that parents need to be aware of what their children are reading and watching and be willing and able to help them understand what they are consuming. In the same way a parent should make sure a child eats healthy food and doesn’t consume poison, a parent should make sure their child is able to process music and literature in a healthy way.
I don’t think that the government or the record store or the library should be the teacher. That is the role of the parent.