Rock and fuckin’ roll, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa–
Younger Enthusiasts may not remember the face full of restylene on the left: that is Tipper Gore, wife of Al Gore, who is a failure. (TotD has made this electoral point before, and brighter and more educated people have refuted this point in the Comment Section, but I don’t care about the facts, dammit: you need to win your fucking home state. McGovern and Mondale did, and they got beaten worse than a lady reporter at Dr. Dre’s house.)
The other highlight of Tipper’s resume was the Parent’s Music Research Council, which was a bunch of politicians’ wives who, because they were politician’s wives and not plumbers’ wives, got to hold hearings and feel very important. They had a very small request, which Wikipedia states more concisely than I can:
As a method of combating this alleged problem, the PMRC suggested a voluntary move by the RIAA and the music industry to develop “guidelines and/or a rating system” similar to the MPAA film rating system. Additional suggestions from the PMRC that appeared in an article in the Washington Post included: printing warnings and lyrics on album covers, forcing record stores to put albums with explicit covers under the counters, pressuring television stations not to broadcast explicit songs or videos, “reassess[ing]” the contracts of musicians who performed violently or sexually in concert, and creating a panel to set industry standards.
Next time some dimwit on Twitter cries “THEY’RE CENSORSHIPPING ME!” then feel free to cut-and-paste that sucker overhead, because that’s the uncut stuff: you gotta be buying wholesale to get product that pure. I’m not up for the vacancy in the Supreme Court, but I am pretty sure that’s the literal, technical, dictionarial definition of censorship. It is Websterian in its precision.
A whole bunch of bullshit had to line up for this bullshit to happen. (That sentence also serves as an explanation for all of human history.) To be fair, there was a great deal of vulgar garbage passing for music at the time, but there always is. However, there had to be bored, powerful women PLUS a blank tape tax that the music industry wanted Congress to levy for them. The record company guys were anxious to at least look cooperative.
Many disturbing and disgusting effluents were held up by these respectable women, one of whom may or may not have been penetrated by a Grateful Dead: there was MTV (Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher video was singled out for lewdness, which must have thrilled David Lee Roth to no end; We’re Not Gonna Take It was also shown as an example of sinfulness, even though all the gags were stolen from Roadrunner cartoons); and the album covers, my sweet suburban Jesus, the album covers.
Titties and ding-dongs. Nothing but titties and ding-dongs.
The PMRC even released a list of the Filthy Fifteen. These were songs so vile that playing them in the Senate chamber caused all the American flags to spontaneously combust. The cloakroom smelled like charred freedom for weeks.
Anyway, check this nonsense out:
I’m going to give it to them on the first two: Darling Nikki and Sugar Walls are indescribably dirty songs. An 11 or 12-year-old TotD, while knowing nothing of the body and its pleasures, knew enough to blush when those two came on. Prince wrote both of them, and they are both concern his stance on vaginas. (Prince is pro-vagina.)
The rest of the tracks are a gloppy amalgam of deep cuts and a few one-hit wonders. Except for Darling Nikki, Cyndi Lauper’s ode to female empowerment might be the best song, which says a lot about the list. (Wait: fuck that. Cyndi Lauper kicks all the ass, and Miles Davis thought so, so I must be right.)
It is interesting that in 1985, hip-hop wasn’t a threat yet.
And, you know: Mercyful Fate? Really? We gonna bring poor King Diamond into this, too? Make Danzig get a catsitter? Jesus, you’re scraping the bottom of the tupperware when you find Mercyful Fate. Whatever you think of the Crüe or Priest, they don’t deserve to be at the same party with Mercyful Fate.
(Speaking of Priest, though: it is slightly amusing that the sexual content in Eat Me Alive was almost certainly not quite the sexual content that the Washington Wives assumed it was. Point: Rob Halford. Alternately, Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) is about exactly what you think it’s about.)
In fact, if we dissect the title, Animal (Fuck Like A Beast), we see that the simplicity of the–
–message is actually a dichotomy of–
No. Do not get hung up on W.A.S.P.. No one cares. You avoided the KISS tree, now steer the car away from the W.A.S.P. ditch.
Blackie Lawless had one of the all-time great Rock Wigs.
True. But get to the hearings; you wanted to talk about the Captain America trailer.
So, there were hearings and they assembled in the Senate hall–this happened in the real Senate–and the Washington Wives assembles and listened to other decent, upstanding white people about how popular music had changed since Elvis, who some of you might recall was a junkie pervert.
Three honest-to-Clive Davis rock stars showed up, for a liberal definition of “rock,” “star,” and “honest.” John Denver was assumed to be on the side of decency, but he surprised the panel by being one of those damned reasonable hippies. Frank Zappa got a haircut and bought a tie so he could look his best while he was mean and condescending to everyone. (Frank was usually mean and condescending in jeans and a t-shirt.)
And then this happened:
Where do you begin? Do we start with the fact that–as evidenced by the phase-cancelling double mics–the Wall of Sound had apparently been hired as the sound system? Is it “Mr. Snider?” Is it the half-full glass of water that you can now vividly imagine Dee pouring?
(If I were testifying before Congress, I would go for the water, too. Immediately pound two glasses, then polish off the rest of the pitcher quickly, and then demand a refill. I would ask for a recess: that pitcher of water is guaranteed in the Constitution. You can’t have hearings without it.)
But I’ve withheld from you, Enthusiasts. You don’t know the totality of the glory of the wonder of the spectacle of the beauty that is Dee Snider in the Senate chamber that day.
Yeah, he’s wearing a shirt with his own face on it to testify in Congress.
(An aside: that’s the best shirt-wearin’ I’ve ever seen. Makes Mickey look like a noob.)
In the end, nothing got done except for a record company pledge to label explicit records with a sticker, which looked like this:
Which worked perfectly in the sense that it made it much easier for teens to find the records they wanted. Plus, the design meeting for it went like this:
“What should we do about this label. boss?”
“Make it look fucking awesome and totally metal. Something that would be cool as a patch for my denim jacket.”
And that’s the story of Tipper Gore. This is a story about Tipper, y’know.