The Brutal History of Censorship
A great philosopher once said, “If you want to feel useless, remember that they put parental advisory stickers on Cannibal Corpse albums.”
In 1965, “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones was banned by many radio stations, and in 1968, more stations banned “Unknown Solider” by the Doors because of its anti-war message. Even songs by the Beatles were banned by the BBC, when “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life” were forbidden for promoting drug use. Yep, Sgt. Pepper himself wasn’t safe.
However, censorship had a real boom in the 1980s when heavy metal, primarily, was targeted by four wives of powerful Washington D.C. types when they founded the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). The idea came to Tipper Gore, the wife of then-Senator Al Gore, after she bought a copy of Prince’s Purple Rain for her 11-year-old daughter. She immediately regretted the purchase after overhearing some of the lyrics to the song “Darling Nikki.”
Eventually, the PMRC came up with the Filthy Fifteen, a list of popular songs that contained references to sex, violence, drugs or occult themes in its lyrics. Among the songs were Judas Priest’s "Eat Me Alive," Motley Crue’s "Bastard," AC/DC’s ‘Let Me Put My Love Into You," Twisted Sister’s "We’re Not Gonna Take It," WASP’s "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)," Def Leppard’s "High n Dry," Mercyful Fate’s "Into the Coven," Black Sabbath’s "Trashed" and Venom’s "Possessed."
The PMRC took their case all the way to United States Senate. They held a hearing to debate the merits of a proposed Parental Advisory sticker, which they suggested should be placed on any record they dubbed to be "Porn Rock." The PMRC did face its share of opposition during the Porn Rock Hearings, in the form of Frank Zappa, John Denver and Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider, who all testified on national television in protest of the PMRC.
Censorship didn’t stop with the PMRC. Marilyn Manson was banned from performing in Salt Lake City, Utah after he ripped up the Book of Mormon onstage, and Bob Dole, who was a candidate for President of the United States at the time, used his platform to attack Cannibal Corpse.
Cannibal Corpse’s music has been banned in Australia and Germany in the past, while in 2014, the band’s music was outlawed in Russia. Lamb of God were banned in Malaysia for “blasphemous” content, Behemoth were banned in Russia for five years in 2014, and Singapore banned Watain in 2019, so the idea of censorship isn't going anywhere.
Watch our full video on the Brutal History of Censorship above.
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