It was the summer of 1985. Big things were happening in Washington DC, big things so stupid you would think that the people
doing these big things had passed the IQ Test with a score of 70.
This is where the story of the PMRC starts. The PMRC, or Parents Music Resource Rights, was formed by several senators'
wifes to let the public know that Rock 'N Roll was dangerous to kids, and that is promoted everything from sex to criminal-activity,
rape to suicide. All Rock 'N Roll was bad, and to prove this, they armed themselves with a list of 15 "filthy" songs (see
right) and a bigger ego than the Pacific Ocean.
The PMRC held meetings with the high-ups in the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) to try and pressure them
into rating and/or banning "unmoral" rock music.
The RIAA resisted. This, in turn, started the long debate about Rock Music vs. Moral Standards, which has given Rock 'N
Roll such a bad steriotype.
The PMRC launched its first attack. They went public, and critized one of their biggest opponents, Frank Zappa. Frank Zappa,
as you know, is an instrumental band, meaning that their are no lyrics. When the PMRC went public, they told the public
that Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell album had unacceptable lyrics, and that the sale of it to minors should be discouraged.
Obviously, anyone who had listened to Zappa's album knew that not only was there no trace of unacceptable lyrics, but also
that there were NO lyrics on the album. However, Wal-Mart listened to the request from the nation's capital, and banned the
Saying that the music industry was pissed would be an understatement. All of a sudden, people like Dee Snider (of Twisted
Sister), Megadeath, and John Dever started speaking about how unreasonable this organization was.
One thing you'll learn about the PMRC is that they do not treat their opponents very friendly. They publicly released their
list of the Filthy Fiteen, and pressured bands with"inappropriate album covers" to change their covers (see right). This pissed
the rock world off even more, and in return, the opponents of the PMRC took it to court, saying that it violated the first
Zappa was the first to be called as witness. He stated that"The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which
fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children and promises
to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretation and enforcement problems inherent in the proposal's design...
It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative.
In this context, the PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruf by decapitation." He also stated that "either comedy
records nor country music recordings were being subjected to the same call for warning labels in the proposal, despite the
latter genre being rich with examples of references to whiskey, sex, divorce, hellfire and the devil."
However, under extreme pressure from the PMRC, the RIAA decided to compromise. They agreed to put on "Tipper Stickers",
now known as the Explict Content stickers. Only the RIAA agreed to this, though, so many other smaller labels don't
use the stickers, often proudly.
Since the hearing, the opponents of the PRMC have worked extremely hard to show just how rediculous the stickers are. From
Notable snippets of audio from the hearing found their way into Zappa's audiocollage "Porn Wars", released on the Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention album. Senators Gore, Hollings, Gorton, Hawkins, and others appeared. The album cover featured a bitingly sarcastic parody of the RIAA warning label.
The Megadeth song "Hook In Mouth" from their 1988 album So Far, So Good... So What! was highly critical of the PMRC, comparing them to the Orwellian state of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The Furnaceface song "We Love You, Tipper Gore" from their 1991 album Just Buy It humourously pointed out that the attempt to suppress music of that nature made it much more appealing,
suggesting that "... it only makes us want to hear it that much more." The chorus implies that smaller bands cashed in on
this "peach out of reach" effect.
On July 18, 1993, Rage Against the Machine protested against the PMRC at Lollapalooza III by standing naked onstage with duct tape covering their mouths and the letters PMRC on their chests.