When I tell people I was involved in activism from a young age, they think I am outright full of it. At first.
I was sharp enough for my young age to actually understand what was going on. Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) band of do-nothing white-privileged dead oyster necklace wearing boffletwats were determined to open the doors to what Frank Zappa called “Moral Quality Control Programs.” I was new to Heavy Metal with Metal Edge Magazine and then later Metal Maniacs becoming my source of information on loud music. Reader mail and a few articles in Metal Edge were my view into the goings on at Capital Hill when hearings were taking place that would eventually lead to the well-known image above being placed on so many records.
Like many publications, Metal Edge Magazine printed a section where fans would list their mailing addresses and the names of a few favourite acts that they love to talk about. So you could write to people with similar interests. I became a prolific letter writer, writing to many bands and fans all over North America. One of the addresses listed was to the Parents Music Resource Center. Readers were encouraged to write to the PMRC to protest their censorship of art. I remember ending my letter with “YOUR’RE GOING TO GET YOUR ASSES KICKED!” in bright blue Bic Pen ink. It’s important to note that the Senate hearings had long been held by the time I wrote my letter. The effect those discussions had on music were still being felt. When reflecting back on the PMRC’s Filthy Fifteen List it’s laughable that they were so worked up over topics that needed to be discussed more. Even during the time these songs were released there was so much more out there that you would have thought they were concerned about.
The PMRC were terrified of kids learning about the real world. They wanted sex to be a taboo topic that should remain behind closed doors. They attempted to block women from more artistic and personal expression. They did not see that there were powerful messages in many of the lyrics that were meant to address topics the PMRC should have been tackling. In my view, the stand the PMRC took against hip-hop was an attempt to cover-up the reality of racism that was continually ignored. My knowledge of Black History multiplied tenfold and beyond thanks to some amazing records that were slapped with Parental Advisory Stickers.
If the PMRC were still around today, they would still be doing nothing to address any content that condones racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. They would be wasting more time and resources preventing people from creating genuine important artistic expression.