Caution: Explicit Content

Don’t worry, this post is clean. But the title made you curious. Even though the title warned you, you clicked on it. Good for you. You took a risk. You’re an adult. You are responsible for protecting your own eyes. But what about children?

Minors usually have parents or guardians that regulate their media intake. However, since most kids get home from school before their parents get home from work, those parents must rely on other means of regulation. Some examples include setting televisions to only show programs that fall below a certain rating, disabling the play of explicit lyrics in iTunes, and setting restrictions for certain websites.

Even though most of those items work well, some things slip through the cracks. This happened to Tipper Gore and her daughter in 1984. They bought a Prince CD  and were listening to the song “Darling Nikki”. This song contains sexual references and Mrs. Gore was unpleasantly surprised. A few months later, she started the Parents Music Resource Center with the intention of censoring obscene music.

This wasn’t the first time that groups tried to silence popular music. In the early days of jazz it was known as “the devil’s music” or “jungle music”.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) finally agreed to place a warning label on obscene content. However, it is up to the record label’s discretion to decide to put the label on CDs.

Backfire. It soon became a status symbol. Because it was forbidden, it became more desirable.  That’s the way we think. That’s why you clicked on this post. That’s how kids were deciding to pick up the music.


During the senate meeting in August 1985 on what had been titled “porn rock”, musicians stepped forward to explain why the label was a bad idea. John Denver stated that he was against the censorship and pointed out the futility of it. He stated, “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.”

His predictions came true. Soon, there were t-shirts, metal signs and sales for the music with that label on it skyrocketed.


Kids can’t contain their curiosity, especially when it’s something that is hidden. Curiosity is good for them; exploring, discovering new things, making small decisions and figuring out who they are and what they want. So although this plan backfired, I’m glad it stopped where it did. Labeling a CD as obscene is a lot different than censoring it. Perhaps it’s doing nothing more than cultivating a healthy sense of curiosity.


One response »

  1. Yea, I fully agree, as im sure you’re aware. miss Gore really just wanted something to fight, all that excess energy, and she made a splash. But did it really help anything>?

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