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Amy Patterson – “My Thoughts”

Posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I enjoy music, just as I assume many of our readers do. With the enjoyment of music, be it on the radio, .mp3, CDs, or whatever your poison may be, comes the (basic) understanding of music and broadcast censorship and the radio edit.

My point with this column is to discuss my opinion on censorship. Maybe I should make a note to say that my views don’t necessarily reflect that of the Times? Whatever, I guess that’s why I call my column “My Thoughts,” because it’s just Amy, no one else.

According to the FCC “It is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to air indecent programming or profane language during certain hours.” These laws cover radio and TV broadcasts, as well as song lyrics.

Along with that, the FCC controls “indecency” and “profanity.”

The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

Profanity, according to the FCC, is defined as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”

Like indecency, profane speech is prohibited by the FCC on broadcast radio and television between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Not only does the FCC has its hand in the pot of censorship, but radio stations have also perfected the “radio edit,” an action that allows producers to remove or cover up possibly offensive material within songs (or edit for length, etc.).

Okay, lesson time’s over. Moving on to the nitty gritty. Should these folks be able to edit music as they see fit?

My opinion isn’t objective, because I think it’s circumstantial. However, it may also be on a word-to-word basis.

Here’s the jist of my thinking: I don’t think the “f-word” or “b-word” should be allowed. No, I’m not necessarily offended by either of these pieces of colorful language, but it would make for an awkward car ride with my 3-year-old niece.

On the other hand, do I think the word “joint” should have been censored from the Kacey Musgraves song? Absolutely not. In fact, I think it’s silly that it was cut out.

Explain to me why the word “joint” isn’t acceptable, but in the exact same song the word “crack” is allowed? It doesn’t make sense to me, that’s for sure.

Also, why would censorship vary from one station to the next? It is based on their demographics? I guess I can see where that would make sense… Maybe producers think their audience has more sensitive dispositions than the people in the next town over.

Another side I don’t understand is why Nicki Minaj can’t say “coke,” but intercourse is now a regular feature of many primetime TV shows. What’s the difference? Sex is okay, but drugs and rock and roll aren’t? I don’t know… Not to say I want to see or hear either, but what makes one acceptable, but not the other?

Some days the radio and TV remind me of a scene from the movie “Pleasantville” or “Footloose” and the next I feel like I’ve stepped onto the set of a rapper’s music video. It’s comparable to audio/visual whiplash!

I don’t think there’s anyone who would argue that music isn’t an art form. A song’s lyrics are the way they are for a reason. Those words didn’t fall into place by accident.

Do you see people going into art museums to put tape over “inappropriate” or “offensive” paintings and sculptures? No. They are works of art and are accepted as they appear.

I remember going to an art museum in kindergarten. Did I giggle when I saw nude sculptures? Of course. Does that make them inappropriate? No!

Here’s my point… Within reason, I don’t think music should be censored. If you’re concerned about it, monitor what you listen to. It’s no one’s job to make sure you’re happy (or sheltered) but your own.