The PMRC: Never Again!

Remember the PMRC? It was Tipper Gore’s little morality project, given the public light of day in the 1980s thanks to the political prominence of her now ex-husband, our beloved nerdy Defender of the Environment, Al Gore.

Stick it to The Man, Dr. Zappa!

We also have to “thank” the prominence of Al Gore, Sr., whose reputation enabled a milquetoast like Junior to achieve as much as he has despite a soporific monotone that would put even a meth-addled NPR staffer to sleep.

While marrying the guy who lost to George W. Bush would qualify as the most embarrassing chapter in most anyone’s life, far more asinine was Tipper’s PMRC (Parental Music Resource Center), which set about labeling every dirty record that I consequently intensely desired.

Her crusade lambasted depraved rock music in general, and more specifically, her “Filthy Fifteen” (seriously), which included a number of my favorite bands and songs, put the congressional spotlight on the most egregiously offensive ditties of the ‘80s.

A who’s who of future VH1 subjects (Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, Muppet collaborator John Denver, et al) denounced Tipper’s fanatical obsession with controlling what music American teenagers could utilize for angst management. Frank Zappa testified before congress and basically shredded Tipper, exposing her utter lack of knowledge about just about everything, including music and the incentives that drive teenagers to do what they do. Zappa was my old man’s idol, and at age 12 I wasn’t yet mature enough to appreciate Frank’s bizarre musical vision. But after he told Tipper where to stick it, Zappa became a hero to me, and my dad’s credibility rose proportionately in my eyes.

The funny thing is, as I grow wiser (read: older), I get what Tipper meant, even though I’m not yet a parent. Pop music these days is absolutely terrible, but filth is just the beginning, a prerequisite to parading your utter lack of talent all over the Internet-enabled world. I honestly have no words for the wreckage that is Ke$ha. I almost threw up when I typed that dollar sign in her name.

That said, I’m not about to prevent my future children or any children I do not directly own from choosing to listen to garbage, profane or not. It’s just the wrong thing to do. The kids are alright.

Al Gore’s OK in my book. He may be grotesquely robotic, but he’s done some very cool and respectable stuff. I’m all for his environmental efforts, his advocacy of technology (he created this whole damn series of tubes, after all), and his distinction as a diplomat and peacemaker. But because he bedded with and evidently tolerated the vilest woman on Earth for forty years, I will never respect him.

Let’s hope that if nothing else, Al and Tipper’s split after four decades of public and private henpecking means that we and our future teenagers will never again face unbridled musical censorship the likes of that cultivated by the dreaded PMRC.

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