Don’t let the man get you down: Rock and roll and the development of the parents’ music resource center

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Horn, Andrew J.
Johnson, Judith
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In 1985 the Parents’ Music Resource Center, an organization concerned over a perceived increase of offensive content in Rock and Roll music, prompted a United States Senate hearing to discuss this issue as well as make suggestions for countering Rock music’s negative influence. This thesis argues that the Rock music debate instigated by the PMRC served as a culminating event in the history of Rock and Roll. This examination of Rock and Roll reveals how controversial themes in the music have led to opposition from other segments of society. Rebelliousness, sexuality, and religion appear throughout Rock and Roll’s history as a driving force of controversial cultural expression. The PMRC and the Senate hearing are important because they continued this trend and created a forum where all those themes could be discussed together. It was an ultimate debate of free expression versus public decency. The most essential source used was the hearing transcript. It outlined the debate and proposed solutions from both sides. Industry magazines such as Rolling Stone and Billboard also covered the progress of the PMRC and the public debate in great detail. Listening to the music under debate was also worthwhile for understanding the references and accusations made against specific Rock and Roll artists. Initially, the conclusions show that free speech won. Legislation censoring Rock music was never passed. The PMRC, however, greatly contributed to parental awareness concerning the type of music being released. Record companies made some voluntary concessions, including a warning label, and both artists and record companies became more aware that much of their success depended on their marketability to young people and their parents. The hearing was thus a pivotal point in which the creativity of the music was saved, while at the same time potentially indecent music was kept in check through the free flow of information and market forces. More important, however, is the conclusion that the hearing was a culminating event in that for the first time it brought to the public’s attention all those trends that had been prevalent throughout the history of Rock and Roll.

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Thesis [M.Ed.] - Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Science, Dept. of History
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 116-117)
Wichita State University
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