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Considering Musical Censorship - Essay Example

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This paper “Considering Musical Censorship” identifies several examples of musical censorship stemming from a variety of different influential entities in contemporary popular culture, identifying that the lyrics of rock songs do create complex and conflicting expectations…
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Considering Musical Censorship
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Considering Musical Censorship
My experience in English 1020 has definitely been a positive one, as I believe that I have learned a lot over the past few months. As someone coming from a different language background, learning English will always be a challenge, but is one that I look forward to each and every day. Although I have learned a great deal, there is always more to learn and I look forward to expanding my knowledge of this language in the future.
The first thing that I feel as though I need to improve on is my sentence structure because I tend to have problems with commas and other forms of punctuation. Even though I have improved my punctuation greatly, I know that there is still much to be done because even the best writers in the world struggle with this at times. I also must admit that the ideas that I am trying to get through are not always clear. This is something that must improve in the future because I want everyone who reads my work to know exactly what I am trying to get across.
As I move forward with my English skills, I hope to work on these issues a lot more, as I believe that being able to read and write English fluently is vital for success in this country. I would also like to become a faster writer, as I currently have to take my time getting through the various assignments in English. As time moves on, I know that I can make these improvements because it is impossible to learn an entire language all at once.
As far as my strengths go, I believe that I have become a very solid writer, especially since I do not have as much experience as a native speaker. The fact that native speakers are easily able to understand my writing style is a major source of pride for me because I feel as though I have reached one of my most important goals. Once again, I know that I must improve even more in the future, but I am fully prepared to meet these challenges along the way.
While it is impossible to predict how my writing will improve as I move forward, I know that I will put in all of the necessary work in order to make myself better. No one is perfect, but I want to become as close as possible to this goal by working on my English skills and never giving up on myself.
In order to reach my end goals, I will continue to put in the effort that is needed and I will continue to identify the things that I know I need to improve. My next English course will surely help me to improve even more, which is exactly what I am looking to do.
I definitely look forward to continuing my education at this school because I feel as though I am making the necessary progress.
Sincerely,
(Name)
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Considering Musical Censorship
The censorship of certain areas of popular culture, such as musical expression, has been a common theme since the middle of the 20th Century. When a second party, such as the government, attempts to stop the free expression of music because it poses threats to the social norm, this is censorship, which is an attempt to control or restrict free expression. We have fundamental freedoms in this country that we expect to be respected and that includes freedom within our media. This paper identifies several examples of musical censorship stemming from a variety of different influential entities in contemporary popular culture.
The book The Ed Sullivan Show and the (Censored) Sounds of the Sixties, by Ian Inglis, describes attempts to censor musical performances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Inglis identifies that “it has long been recognized that the lyrics of rock songs do create complex and conflicting expectations among those who hear them” (572). What this statement implies is that rock concert-goers and others in society who listen to music can be influenced to alter their behaviors based on musical lyrics. While Inglis’ views might be grounded in psychological or sociological research, it has been my personal experience that people are more intelligent and self-aware and, therefore, recognize that music is merely a form of entertainment and not an excuse to become sexually-wild, politically-charged, or prone to anarchy.
It is a misguided belief in society that rock music maintains the ability to make, proverbially, a good child go bad. This belief is usually carried in older Americans who were raised to believe in the dangers of provocative or sexual behaviors during a time period where children were generally seen and not necessarily heard. As a means of escaping outdated social beliefs, the children of the 1960s and 1970s often turned to music as a means to unwind and collect their thoughts. However, many of their relaxation efforts and their pursuit for soothing music were censored by parents with this distorted view of mid-20th Century lifestyle using methods such as coming into their bedrooms and turning off their record players. According to David Church, “rock music and freakery were considered connected during the socio-political turmoil of the 1960’s” (2). Censorship, by shutting off the child’s record player or radio or forcing them to explore a non-musical activity, only again reinforces that the restriction of free expression has been a common social problem for well over 50 years. This is yet another example of where the broader social majority is able to make the new and younger generation conform to their traditional values.
When television production studios or movie producers begin to censor the types of musical performers which will appear on their shows, this is yet again an example of how the social majority is able to censor based on their personal concerns and motives. The major power-holders from The Ed Sullivan Show were the producers themselves and the host, Ed Sullivan. The producers of this show did not believe that certain rock groups would create the desired long-term image for the show, thus censorship became a problem when acts such as The Doors and Bob Dylan were restricted from being spotlighted. From the producer’s perspective, they were likely worried that profitability would be affected and advertisers might begin to pull out. Ed Sullivan, however, seemed more concerned about his own personal reputation as a television host and was concerned that these musical groups might forever alter the brand image which he had built.
The case of Ed Sullivan and his producers, attempting to censor certain musical acts again shows how the majority in society manage to halt the free expression of rock music when it serves their personal or business interests. Ed Sullivan did not necessarily view the lyrics of the music as being the danger, rather it was the responses from his audience which he considered a threat. Would this new musical style create a new audience for The Ed Sullivan Show which was not wholesome? Therefore, in order to prevent risk to the Sullivan brand, certain musical groups were refused the opportunity to perform on this show. The producers, on the other hand, felt that their revenues would be affected and became concerned about advertising and promotion relationships. However, none of these efforts actually halted the successful launch and social adoption of rock music, thus these efforts to censor were practically useless over the long-term as society began to evolve.
It is very important to identify situations such as that with The Ed Sullivan Show because the broader society, or the major power-holders in groups and organizations, always manage to create conflict and difficulty whenever a new type of social trend begins to surface. From a political perspective, with police being used to monitor the activities of rock concerts or waiting to shut down the event due to perceived lude or sexual behavior, musical censorship occurs as an effort to halt the evolution of society. For example, many of the major players in government are long-term lawmakers who were, themselves, raised on many of the same principles as those children who experienced their record players being shut off due to parental concerns over rock music. Therefore, this older generation attempts to suppress the musical desires of their younger generational counterparts in society because their long-standing values, passed down by distorted parental beliefs, still drive much of their legal decision-making. However, these efforts, again, never really amount to much in the long-term as far as being able to successfully censor music. Society continuously moves away from these values, thus musical censorship occurring at the political level is really nothing more than a false perception of being able to control society at its fundamental levels.
A contemporary example of musical censorship occurs regularly with Wal-Mart, a major, international retailer, which simply will not carry certain artists because of perceived illicit lyrics or socially-inappropriate musical content. For example, Wal-Mart is using its tremendous authority in the retail world to prevent sales of certain Sheryl Crow albums, not because of lyrical problems, but because of her personal views on Wal-Mart’s selling tactics (Metroactive.com, 1). This form of censorship not only limits potential customers from experiencing new and innovative musical artists, but also creates negative publicity for the artist which can jeopardize future sales of their products in other retail environments. Personal viewpoints regarding artist opinion should not be a focus of censorship, however it again illustrates that the major power-holders in society can severely limit free expression of musical talent to interested buyers.
In personal life, some members of society have even tried to censor my musical expression simply by criticizing my choice of music. For example, a discussion about favorite rock music songs often leads to comments such as “How can you listen to that junk?” and other negative statements. What is really occurring in this situation is that society members are somehow threatened or otherwise turned-off by this type of music and are using comments such as these to get me, the listener, to change my preferences so that the peer or colleague is more comfortable. This attempt to censor music is more of an effort to get an individual to conform to another’s views on music as a means of trying to create a collectivist environment, an environment where everyone shares the same social beliefs and acts on them similarly. However, it again reinforces that musical censorship occurs in today’s society in many forms.
Censorship, in particular the restriction of musical expression, will likely continue to be a problem so long as there are members of society which maintain different generational values. As society evolves, so will their musical tastes and preferences, therefore there will likely always be inflexible or small-minded individuals who will try to stop this evolution. New types of dancing, sounds and lyrical expressions will likely meet with censorship in some form or another whether from political individuals or those who control the production dollars in various television studios. Musical censorship comes in many forms, however it will be the non-conformists, the social minority, who will ensure that the free expression of music is not successfully censored.
References
Church, David. “'Welcome to the Atrocity Exhibition': Ian Curtis, Rock Death, and Disability”. Disability Studies Quarterly. Vol. 26, No.4, 2006.
Inglis, Ian. “The Ed Sullivan Show and the (Censored) Sounds of the Sixties”. The Journal of Popular Culture, Blackwell Publishing. Vol. 39, No.6, 2006.
Metroactive.com.“Wal-Mart Blues – The nation’s biggest retailer is under fire, not for gun sales (sorry, Sheryl Crow), but for censorship of rock and rap CD’s”, 1997. Retrieved 4 Oct 2009 from http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/01.09.97/walmart-music-9702.html Read More
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