End Evil

16/03/03 - Censorship in Music

Why should someone else be entitled to tell me what I can and can't listen to? Well basically they shouldn't, censorship is wrong especially in creative fields as it stunts the artists aims and denies us a free choice.

I have been totally sickened at the irresponsible attitude of the media in reporting the supposed threat of Eminem and Manson. Sensationalism is too mild a word for the level of hysteria they have desperately been trying to drum up, and they should know better, after all the same fuss happens with each generation. From Elvis to the Beatles to Black Sabbath or the Rolling Stones people have claimed that society is threatened by their music, their message, their popularity, as though a rock band is liable to start a revolution (well maybe Rage Against The Machine). The problem is a recurring generation gap, the older generation always has different tastes and cannot understand (therefore feel threatened by) the younger generation.

There have been several complaints against Eminem and Manson, yet examining them more carefully it is plain that none of them are anything new. Eminem was lambasted for encouraging drug taking while on stage (a common practice among anti-establishment acts). Manson is criticised for claiming allegiance (or whatever) to the devil; rock bands have been doing this for years. They dress up and put on big managed corporate backed shows, they are not dangerous and are not out to start revolutions, they are there to make money (Eminem is even honest about it).

What really makes them a problem for much of society is the fact that they are so popular. If you wanted to look, you could easily find several hundred acts in the world today who behave more or less in the same way, have more or less the same message, the reason Eminem and Manson are picked on is because they are undeniably mainstream, they are mega popular superstars and the corporate world has fully backed them (pocketing a fair bit of cash along the way).

George Bush was quoted on the news a few months ago as having said 'Eminem is the biggest threat to our children since polio'. Now we all know how retarded he is, a right wing big business puppet, but what an incredibly ludicrous thing to say. Polio was responsible for disfigurement and death on a large scale; Eminem is a mildly offensive rap singer.

Another aspect of the argument is that about artistic license. I'll talk about Eminem because I don't know much about Manson (I grew out of listening to shouty, angsty people a few years ago and Nine Inch Nails did it so much better than he does). Eminem is undeniably talented, what people have to realise is that he has created a character for himself. It is not real; it is his creation for our entertainment. He even tries to get this message across with Stan, by parodying the media suggestion about copycat fans and openly admitting he is not serious.

Eminem is saying nothing new, he is just more popular than most of the other people saying the same things. Ditto with Manson, they allow people to feel like it is not necessarily their fault if they don't seem to fit in and on another level they provide entertainment. Eminem's album has been described as like a horror film without the pictures, in one sense this is true - they are both harmless entertainment and do not have the power to influence anyone who isn't already liable to do something evil. The idea that music or film has the power to compel someone to kill is ridiculous.

If you agree to begin censorship then it would never end, our basic freedom, our diversity and right to choose would be gradually eroded. Also if you were going to apply censorship rules surely they would start with groups like the BNP who are actually trying to incite violence and directly causing pain - you simply cannot prove that about Manson or Eminem.

The problem with an idea like freedom of speech is that it is an all or nothing deal. You cannot have partial censorship, who would control it? You can bet it would not be a cross section of society (which would be wrong anyway) more probably a bunch of middle-aged civil servants who like Barry Manilow.

Ultimately Eminem and Manson don't have to care about what the public thinks as long as they are selling records, and they are. They have both astutely used the media at times and been unfairly attacked by it at others. Whatever your view there is no denying that large sections of the population enjoy their music, and not just teenagers either. These right-wing loons focus on banning their music. To achieve what though? Will it end violence? Will it stop drug abuse? Of course it won't, people must be allowed to make their own choice all we should seek to do is ensure they are well informed.

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