I want to start with saying I don’t wholly disagree with censorship. There’s plenty of crap out there–books, movies, music–that probably SHOULDN’T be out there. Somebody once published a guide for pedophiles, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t include a list of psychologists and directions to various law enforcement officials.
Anyway, I don’t think the problem is in the basic idea of limiting what we’re exposed to. The problem is with the values behind the decisions being made.
This morning, as I’m driving around, I turned on the radio and lucked into the first part of Eminem and Rihanna’s Love the Way You Lie. Confession: I love Eminem and Rihanna. Separate or together. I can listen to either or both, and be perfectly happy. They rock. Or, uh…rap. Or whatever.
So, I have this song on my iDevice, but its been a while since I listened to it on the radio. I’d forgotten about censorship and, as it played, my mind was automatically filling in the deleted words. When you know a song by heart, you don’t always pay attention to the words. Your lips and vocal chords work on autopilot. Granted, I operate on autopilot a great deal of the time anyway, but… not the point. Sorry.
My point is that when the FCC or whoever censors a song, replacing lyrics with silence, you notice what’s not there. You judge what’s taken and what’s left and, most of the time, their reasoning makes sense. It’s the radio. My kids don’t need to hear blasphemy on the radio!
What struck me this morning, however, was that I had more of a problem with the remaining lyrics than what they’d bleeped out.
Look, I’ve been listening to Eminem for years. I know he’s offensive to some people. I know he writes songs that aren’t nice, and have awful things in them. This is why I don’t break out my iDevice and make the kids sing along with me. He isn’t for everyone. Period.
Censorship failed here. To prove my point, let me tell you what was removed and what was not.
Removed: The “F” bomb.
Left: “If she ever tries to leave again, I’m going to tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.”
In contemplating these choices, it occurred to me that the values of those in charge of such decisions are skewed, and that they always have been. When did swearing become worse than violence? Who decided nudity was more offensive than murder?
I remember, several years ago at some sporting event, Janet Jackson exposed half a boob or something. People freaked out. It was a big deal. And yet, many primetime dramas depict all kinds of truly awful things: violence, murder, rape, etc.
The message I get from this is that violence is okay, sex is not. Americans are trusted to handle watching a guy murder somebody else but–for the love of all that’s sacred and holy–don’t let us see a woman’s breast!
I’m not saying I want porn on network TV. I’m just bothered that this society embraces violence and makes a big deal about nudity. Our bodies are natural. Murder is not. Why can I watch people being physically tortured when women are still discouraged from breastfeeding in public?