Explicit Lyrics & Parental Advisory

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Explicit Lyrics & Parental Advisory
Tipper Gore, the PMRC, and the infamous black-and-white logo: Background material and news articles

The Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the majority of record labels in the country, has posted a black-and-white logo, warning of explicit content, on album covers since 1985.

The history behind Parental Advisory and the infamous logo can be found in the book ‘A Brief History of Banned Music in the United States’, by Eric Nuzum (2001)

Parental Advisory (Eric Nuzum)


After years of pressure from the Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC) and a series of Senate hearings in 1985, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) introduced, in 1990, a uniform labeling system using the logo, “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics.”
The RIAA initiated this system without providing record companies with any standards, criteria or guidelines for determining what albums should be labeled. That decision is left completely up to the companies, which have chosen to label only selected rock and rap albums and not recordings of country music, opera or musical comedy that may also contain controversial material.
Background information, and a ‘for-and-against’ interview from ACLU:

Popular music under seige (ACLU)


Statement of Hilary Rosen, President and CEO, Recording Industry Association of America before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate “Rating Entertainment Ratings”  (July 25, 2001)

Read statement


News articles on explicit lyrics:

Race leaders, musicians and academics are discussing setting up an ethical code for the British black music industry to tackle the increasing use of offensive lyrics. The debate has been organised by the Black Music Congress (BMC) which was set up to discuss issues around black music.
Story from BBC (28 June 2002)

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently launched a new campaign to improve awareness among parents, educators and music consumers about its Parental Advisory programme.
Story from BBC (27 May 2002)

Representatives of the American music industry and politicians meet on Wednesday to discuss new plans to protect children from explicit lyrics. The government has threatened to introduce sweeping reforms of ratings systems, which would replace the music business’ current voluntary system.
Story from BBC (25 July 2001)

To censor or not to censor? This is the thorny question parents face when their kids bring home music they find offensive. Should freedom of expression override house rules based on what parents feel are appropriate values for their kids?
From Media Awareness Network

In 10 years, the parental advisory sticker has become a fixture. Reports estimate that one-third of the country’s top-selling albums carry the tag, and a study claims that 74 percent of parents are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the parental advisory label.
Extensive article on the sticker debate, including interview with Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew.

Story from The Village Voice (May 2001)

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