tagReviews & EssaysCensoring Sex in Songs

Censoring Sex in Songs


Congress held hearings about hip-hop and rap lyrics a few months ago. Right. Like this is supposed to do anyone any good? Is this supposed to stop the N word from being bandied around and prevent "Beeotch" from ending up in the dictionary some time down the line? Somehow I doubt it. I have a 14-year-old son who listens to rap, and it's not pretty. Some of the things they say make me blush--and that's hard to do!

But did anyone else flash back to Tipper Gore's PMRC campaign in the 80's and how horribly ineffective that was?

Uh huh.

The PMRC was the Parent's Music Resource Center. They were at the center of putting labels on music. Of course, it was all voluntary. The record companies agreed to do it. They still do. Every time something gets a label, it's like a kid magnet. My kid HAD to have the Usher CD--the one with the big red circle and a line through it!? So of course my ex bought it for him. *sigh* When I heard some of the lyrics, I nearly coughed up blood!

And Tipper thought all those horrible 80's lyrics were ruining our children forever and must be stopped!? Of course, that was before Al Gore took up his championing for the environment. After that, Tipper said, "I'm not a raunchy, inflexible prude."

Um…what!? What does that even mean? Raunchy and prude shouldn't even be used in the same sentence that way, I don't think. Mrs. Gore had clearly been consulting with her misspoken "I invented the Internet" husband recently when she made that statement.

The thing is, I can't even understand half of what they're saying on these hip-hop and rap albums. It's truly like some other language. My son has to explain it to me. And when he does? Hoh-boy!

My son didn't even blush when I asked, "WHAT did he say?" and he repeated, "Let the anal way find, and the woofers blow. Throw some ass in my lap and I'm good to go …"


Not that 80's songs didn't have their moments. Prince was the one who had Tipper all in a tizzy with his Darling Nikki masturbating in some five and dime with a magazine. If Tipper's not a prude, and she thought THAT was bad? Good thing she doesn't have kids listening to Usher and Eminem nowadays…

I will say this: rap is very up front and in your face about it. There's very little "innuendo" anymore. They come right out and talk about pussies, cunts, cocks, niggers, ho's, bitches, you name it. Carlin's seven no long applies, it seems.

And my son knows exactly what they're talking about. There's no beating around the bush… so to speak. If one of the younger kids accidentally overhears something on my older one's radio (and they know they're not allowed to play it around the little ones, but sometimes mistakes happen) I can't even make stuff up and pretend they're talking about something they're not.

At least, if I was Tipper back in the 80's, I could have sworn that Culture Club's Miss Me Blind was about lost love - that it was most certainly not about masturbation and hot, sweaty man-lovin'. *ahem* That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

And maybe I was naive, but the thing is, I was totally oblivious to most of the sexual innuendo even back then. In the 80's, I just thought the music was fun. Most of the lyrics I took at face value. The obvious ones I got, of course.

Prince's Darling Nikki, for example. I mean, come on, he said the word masturbation. But there were lots of songs that totally went over my head if they weren't so… explicit. Cyndi Lauper's She-Bop? I thought it was just a fun little song about dancing. So was Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself." I mean, dancing is right in the title… Right?

What do you mean it was all a euphemism for "dating Miss Michigan?" (think geography...)

I swear to God, I didn't even get that Boy George was gay until he officially "came out." And George Michael? He was just a beautiful hunk of man flesh. I had no idea the man would rather frequent rest stops than strip clubs until he was arrested. (Although perhaps that was a bit of wishful thinking!) And who knew that "Wake me up before you go (go), Cuz I'm not plannin' on goin' solo" was also about "draining the lizard?" Not me. I just thought he wanted his girlfriend to wake him up before she went dancing. Apparently, I not only had the wrong social activity, but the incorrect gender as well.

I didn't find out until 2002 that the fun little ditty, "Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so!" wasn't just a strange racial slur, it was also another euphemism for touching the penis. Apparently, your eyes get all "squinty" if you do it too much? The two that really shocked me, though, when I found out what they were actually about were Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" and Toni Basil's "Oh Mickey." In fact, I had to have someone spell it out for me in the lyrics before I would believe that either of them were about anal sex!

Relax don't do it
When you want to go to it
Relax don't do it
When you want to come*

Now, okay, it could be about anything sexual, I guess. But considering who's singing the song? It's pretty clear. Anal sex requires a great deal of… relaxation!

Now "Mickey" on the other hand… I hadn't really fully listened to the lyrics so closely before. But when I did, I finally heard the tale of woe: a really horny girl trying to convince a "pretty" boy who clearly pitches for the other team that she can "take it like a man."

Oh, Mickey what a pity you don't understand
You take me by the heart, when you take me by the hand
Oh, Mickey you're so pretty, can't you understand
It's guys like you, Mickey
Oh, what'cha do Mickey, do Mickey,
Don't break my heart Mickey…

and the very telling:

So, come on and give it to me any way you can
Any way you wanna do it I'll take it like a man

Oh, please baby please
Don't leave me in a jam Mickey…**

Poor girl. A rather hopeless pursuit.

Think she was singing about George Michael?


* Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
** Mickey by Toni Basil




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