Saturday, December 11, 2004

Calling Tipper Gore!

I read over at Launch that Walmart is being sued. The issue? They sold a CD that contained the word "fuck." It was from Evanescence, one of those bands that barely causes a blip on my radar, but I hear the kids love 'em. I have better things to do with my time. But apparently, middle America does not, and fear for the purity of their children.
"I don't want any other families to get this, expecting it to be clean. It needs to be removed from the shelves to prevent other children from hearing it," said plaintiff Trevin Skeens of Brownsville [Maryland].
Skeens said he and his wife, Melanie, let their daughter buy the music for her 13th birthday and were shocked when they played it in their car while driving home.
While shocking rubes is a time-honored tradition, their abject horror (which is apparently worth $74,500. Each. I've gotta drum up some abject horror, I think.) is a bit surprising. I didn't even know that "fuck" was dirty anymore. I thought it was the new black.

The perennial offense taken to profanity in music seems a bit ridiculous to me. Lots of music I like is perfectly family friendly, lots isn't. Few are as raucous as Mary Prankster, whose song "Tits & Whiskey" apparently got airplay in Baltimore despite the necessity of riding the mute button rather more often than a ClearChannel employee might wish. (But I'll bet they weren't the ones who played it.) A sample:
Fast cars and explosions,
Party hats and motion lotion,
Let's get down to the ocean
And break out the tits and whiskey.

Fuck me fuck me, fuck me, fuck me,
I am Ernie's rubber ducky.
Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,
Let's break out the tits and whiskey.

You know, not a song for when the kids are in the car, particularly as the Sesame Street reference might be misconstrued. Not that I have a damn idea how to construe it, but still...

I suppose there are acts for whom the use of profanity is their claim to fame, but I have to say, it makes less than no difference to me. If I like a song, I'm fine with the lyrics; if I don't, there's really no point in worrying about it. (A friend once told me he didn't mind profanity in lyrics if it was "heartfelt." Still can't figure that one out, but it's funny.) Any limits placed on art are inherently ridiculous, boundaries begging for transgression.

What worries me about this issue is not that Wal-Mart's getting sued over it--I believe they should be forced to give their money to someone other than the Republican Party once in a while--but that this means they'll stop carrying music altogether, or that there will be some governmental oversight put into place for the currently voluntary stickering system. The CD in question was not stickered, which is apparently the salient issue here.

Were Wal-Mart not such an overwhelming presence, I'd shrug this off. But I remember all too well begging my parents to buy me records as an adolescent, knowing that a big family shopping was probably my best bet, that I'd never get them into a record store, not in a million years. Without department stores that sold music, all I would have had to depend on was the radio and the not-always-dependable cool of my older siblings.

That's my prediction: government censorship and less music for the kids. If I may say so, fuck.


Anonymous said...

In same theme, ever listen to Todd Snider's Ballad of the Kingsmen? give it a listen if not.

Fox said...

in my mind, more censorship + less music = wal*mart might as well just donate some more goddamn money to the republican party anyway.

however, the new Jimmy Eat World album (a gift which, ironically enough, i believe was purchased for me at wal*mart) is alleviating some of my bitterness. the rest, i'm sure, will be remedied by the narcotics i'm about to swallow, as will my chest pains.

see you tomorrow ;)

Fox said...

p/s. this jogged a memory which makes me think my parents are much cooler than i had previously given them credit for being.

my first cd (sheryl crow's "tuesday night music club") was also unstickered and used the f-word. i had unwittingly blared the offending track from my father's stereo in the living room. my very conservative parental unit, observing how much i loved the album, pretended not to notice the f-word.

i think it was sweet of them. :)

Eric said...

When I was 12 my father snagged my beautifully package gatefold double album of Elton john's "Goodby yellow Brick Road" and gave the lyrics a quick perusal. There was a song about lesbains "All the Girls Love Alice", masturbation "Jamaica Jerk-off, Venereal disease "Social Disease", a prostitute "Sweet painted Lady" and a "Dirty Little Girl". He still let me listen to it and he was a staunch conservative who thought the Jimi Hendrix lyric "'scuse me while I kiss the sky" was really "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" and promoted homosexuality. I turned out all-right. This suit is such B.S. it makes me wanna go out Saturday night and cause a fight.

Anonymous said...

Ever read Paste magazine?
2 for 1 Gift Special (newsstand single copy price is $6)

Latest issue, besides the usual CD sample, has a DVD sample (more music samples in the form of music videos, along with short movies.)
"Signs of Life" in music and culture is what they claim to look for. Always a great variety of great music. I picked up a copy at Borders and have been interested ever since. Mr. cgreen is giving it to me for Christmas as long as I act surprised.


Anonymous said...

You know, usually I'm all for people suing over stuff, I've never believed that the majority of lawsuits were frivolous.

But if there were ever a frivolous lawsuit, this is it. You don't like the F word? Take the damn thing back, and get your money. Don't like hearing the F word? Lock yourself in an ivory tower and don't let anyone or anything in, because that's the only way you're going to avoid it completely.

These people are looking for some quick $$$. Period. Their distress is not this severe. I'm never in the mood to root for Wal-Mart, but this time I'll make an exception.

I hope the Wal-Mart attorneys pull up the Rube Family's cable bills and demonstrate that these people subscribe to HBO, SkinnyMax, and the Playboy Channel. Or get a gander at their VHS/DVD collection.

I'd bet money you'd find plenty of stuff they have/view that transmits the F word all the time.