Thursday, January 28, 2016

History and its impact on current events.

Or, the Parent's Music Resource Center, Censorship, and really pissed off Generation X punks sort of accidentally fucking up the world. We're kinda vaguely a cause of ISIS. In the same sense that the KKK is the cause of the Gay Pride Movement.+

I swear we wouldn't have done it if we'd had a time machine. Honest.

Older readers will already feel their blood boiling. Many of the younger readers are probably going, uh, what? right now. That's cool.

Back in the early 80s, There was a movie called Purple Rain. Y'all may have heard of it. It was rated R (a bigger deal back then, than it is now). It was controversial. It addressed domestic abuse and all sorts of sexual controversies. There was also a sound track/album (that I still have tracks from, on my iThing, hang on, writing this needs music). So one day in Washington DC, some idiot housewife bought a ROCK ALBUM with music from an R RATED MOVIE ON IT, for her UNDER TEN KID. (I still roll my eyes, every time I think about it. I have a different view now, as a parent, and I raised my kid on music way more explicit than Purple Rain, but the real point here, I think, was Clueless Idiot Parent not paying attention to what their kid is exposed to.) As a parent myself, the solution to the kiddo getting hold of stuff with content I don't think she should have is to remove the content and have some Plain Talk with her. Done. No harm, no foul. It's a big wide world out there, and I wish someone would keep ME from seeing some of it, so yeah, kids don't need access to every damn thing. When "So Fucking What" comes on the iThing, the kid is told "yeah, generally, just... never repeat anything in this song." and she giggles and IT'S THAT FUCKING SIMPLE YOU MORONS.

Yeah I'm ranting. Still mad.

However, instead of taking responsibility for being a dumbass, this DC housewife called all her idiot housewife friends who also didn't want to actively parent their kids and have the world do it for them, and FORMED A COMMITTEE.

Really. Wanna talk about censorship? That's what we should fucking censor. Clueless rich white housewives who are bored, forming committees. YEAH STILL ANGRY.

One of the rich white housewives with no clue happened to be a senator's wife. Tipper Gore, wife of Al Gore. You know, the one who ran against George W Bush the Second Coming of Evil, and lost. By a couple thousand votes. SUDDENLY, RELEVANCE.

First she and her buddies in the PMRC produced a list of inappropriate songs they called the "Filthy Fifteen". (Which resulted in more teens such as myself at the time, buying the albums and playing them. Incidentally, I raised my kid on half these, she sings Twisted Sister when I make her do chores and she doesn't want to.) THEN, Tipper decided what this really needed was warning labels on records, and a senate hearing. And instead of telling Tipper it was censorship and NOT HER FUCKING JOB, Senator Gore said "sure honey" and LET HER CONVENE A HEARING.

This is not the start of a Saturday Night Live skit with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but I wish to hell it was.

So we've got this... WOMAN, who is not an elected official, who is not an expert in anything much, and certainly not parenting because she's not considering overseeing her kid's influences as her job, who is NOBODY, firing up a senate subcommittee. Talk about things there should be a law against.

Long story short, most kids my age watched CSPAN for the first time. (Or caught the hearings on PBS if you lived out in the boonies like I did.) We talked about due process and legal government and constitutional rights and censorship. We cheered when Frank Zappa told a reporter to kiss his ass. We REALLY THOUGHT about what was appropriate and what wasn't, and what the government should be allowed to do. We talked about black lists and Joseph McCarthy in history class. We READ the Constitution and asked our teachers about it. In our teens, when everyone wants to tell the whole world to go fuck itself, on principle.

Sting, at the time, pointed out that people DO have a right to know what they're buying, and lyrics to songs should be provided and the people could make their own decision from there on out. I always thought he was on the money; he got ignored. Too reasonable.

Frank Zappa's next album had to be REVIEWED BY A COMMITTEE and they decided it needed a warning label. Stores wouldn't carry it. He lost his recording contract. The entire album was instrumental music; the committee had never listened to it, just rubber-stamped the offensive guy's work.

Warning labels went on records, then movies, then video games.

Some artists countered with 'voluntary' labels of their own, like this one from Metallica's Master of Puppets:

You still see them on video games occasionally; if you ever wondered why Gen Xers snarl and froth at the mouth a bit when they see them, now you know.

This all went down in the late eighties. It was kind of a coming of age for Gen X, and it was this event, more than any other, that made us as newly minted adults consider government and what we wanted from it. In retrospect, it was probably a bad choice on the government's part.

And then in 2000, Al Gore ran for president. Gen Xers were in their late twenties, early thirties at that point, paying taxes and raising kids and having a serious investment in how the world ran. And every damn one of them that I've ever spoken to, we all said the same thing:


And we either didn't vote, or we voted for Bush. (I didn't vote, as a conscious choice. Or I might have written in Kermit the Frog, which is a fallback of mine. But I do know I couldn't vote for either one and sleep at night.)

Yeah. Um. Sorry about that.

The 2000 election was really, really, famously close. A couple thousand votes probably could have turned the election in Gore's favor. There are roughly fifty-five million GenXers. We really could have decided the election. (I also think Ohio went to Bush because Diebold's home office is there, and they made the voting machines, but that's a rant for another day.)

President Shrubya, his cackling demon on his shoulder Cheney, and Iraq the Sequel.

All I can say is, if we knew then what we know now, we would have voted for Gore and then, I don't know, thrown rotten tomatoes and eggs at Tipper for the next four years. Something.

I've always wondered if Gore realized Tipper essentially lost him that election. But when you Google Al Gore, Tipper's Wikipedia article pops up just below his. They separated in 2010, and he'd been trying to distance himself from her for years before that. Still hasn't worked. I'd feel sorry for him, but if he'd just followed constitutional and federal law as a senator is supposed to, none of it would have gone down the way it did.

Y'know, on reflection, it wasn't Generation X who caused ISIS. It was Tipper Gore.

History. It's a damn strange business. Every time you think you understand it, the bitch doubles back on you. (This is why everyone hates teaching 'modern' history and most public school history classes seem to run out of time to cover topics after World War two.)

+No, seriously. The KKK pushed Prohibition because it would hurt immigrants, who were the ones making and profiting from wine and beer. But Prohibition led to speakeasies (underground pubs, essentially), and the speakeasies were UNREGULATED, which led to desegregation and a whole lot of other rule-ignoring. One of those speakeasies was known as the Stonewall Inn, and catered to LGBQTA persons. And the rest is some pretty awesome history.


Emily said...

I never knew the connection between the KKK and Prohibition. I'm still trying to get my brain around it.

Tipper Gore and that whole issue was just stupid. I tried ignoring it, but the local schools began to have problems with parents hallucinating "satanic" influences. And the administration caved. Ridiculous pressure on the teachers, and the voice of reason could not be heard. I think (hope) that's over.

Kat said...

Fun Fact: Eminem's "White America" which came out in 2002 when I was but a wee eleven year old was the first glimpse I got of who Tipper Gore was.

Anonymous said...

SOOOO glad you are back! fascinating. Deborah

Earth Angel said...

I hope you are OK, I miss your posts and your humor! I want to wish you and your family a happy New Year and I hope to see you posting again :-)