Parental Advisory: The Black and White Barrier

By: Kris Heding

A few years ago I worked at a record store, and I must say, it was an awesome experience. I learned a lot from my time working there - people assume you're a musical prodigy and that you're an expert at "Name That Tune", and that yes, there are STILL people in search of Milli Vanilli CDs (which are no longer in print, I might add). One thing I noticed were those stickers they put on the albums with explicit lyrics. You know, "Parental Advisory" warnings. It got me thinking.

I guess the reason for them is to warn parents that their kids are buying an album that isn't, well, Hanson. But let's say a kid walks in...he's twelve...and he decides to buy an album with one of those warnings on it. The kid brings it up to the checkout counter, hands the cashier the money, and ta da! He has one of those "evil" albums in his grasp. I kind of understand the point of the warnings, but what good do they do if there are no laws to go along with them? I mean, what age do you become "mature" enough to listen to these albums? Obviously it depends on the child. One kid could be thirteen and be very mature, and can handle the content of the songs. Then again, there could be a kid of eighteen who thinks that Nine Inch Nails is just awesome, and that somehow Trent Reznor is telling him to kill someone, so he kills his dad. Then you've got a problem. So basically, you really can't put an age on these things, and so really...what's even the point of having them? You can't just say "If you're not over fifteen, you can't buy this album" and then ask the kids for ID when they're buying the album. It just wouldn't work. The warnings are pointless if the parents aren't present when the kid is buying the album. All it says is "This album is something your parents won't like."

And if you're a typical kid...anything your parents don't like MUST be good.
Who's there to stop the kid? No one.

Why do some albums get the warnings and some don't? It's not only swearing that gets the albums warnings. Sometimes it's mature content. Either way, how much "explicit" content does an album have to have before it's considered "explicit"? There are some albums that I've heard where in every song, there's a lot of swearing, yet the album doesn't get a warning. Then on the albums where there's one of those warnings, I don't clearly see what's so explicit.

Personally, I think before they go putting on these warnings, they should develop an effective system. As of now, it's really not doing much. Kids are still buying albums with explicit lyrics, whether mom and dad know or not. Artists aren't going to edit their songs to be more politically correct, and it would be impossible to set age limits on who an purchase the "explicit" albums. I believe these warnings are pointless, and that they are infringing on the artists' First Amendment rights. Yes, radio has the right to edit out any explicit lyrics (to some extent, that's a whole other issue) but to put these warnings on the albums is far-fetched. If parents don't want their kids listening to music with explicit lyrics, then they should do something about it. Little stickers shouldn't take over the parenting role.

Off to listen to some "explicit" lyrics...


The Head Creep.

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