It’s one thing when the government slashes my freedoms and invades my privacy. However, it’s quite another when they start screwing with my music. Last week the government issued a cease and desist order to the buzzworthy post-emo, semi-electronic outfit The Postal Service. The new band has been informed by Ashcroft and Co. that it conflicts with the actual U.S. Postal Service.
Looks like the priorities are really straight up on Capitol Hill. Oh, and while you were researching this evil indie band and penning that little note, 20 more soldiers died from Iraqi suicide bombers. Instead of doing something about the real problems in the post 9/11 world, the suits have opted to battle with feeble indie rockers. Good job, guys.
If the government wanted to really make itself useful within the musical realm, they would draft one of those cease and desist orders and send it to Limp Bizkit. And don’t be shy about frying that pathetic schoolyard bully Fred Durst for what he’s done to modern music.
This quarry with The Postal Service, while it may not be ultimately appalling, is the latest in a long history (especially in the last couple of decades) of government meddling in what should be a relatively restriction-less art form.
In the mid ’80s a group of Washington wives, led by Tipper Gore and backed by their hubbies-in-office, fought and won the right for record companies to slap a “Parental Advisory” sticker on all albums with questionable content.
Hello! If you censor something, that just makes kids want it more. Parents, be they governmental wives or not, should know this rule about children. Kids all over the country see that sticker and their eyes collectively light up.
Surely, that taught them a lesson, right?
The ’90s started out with a bang thanks to the FBI bullying NWA for the song “F— the Police”
They also fought Ice T’s rapcore metal band, Body Count. The band — sporting tunes way more horrific musically than any message T was “sending” — released a self-titled debut album including the controversial song “Cop Killer.”
Gee, has anyone looked at some of the reasons why so many African-American artists hate the police? Haven’t thought of that one, huh? It’s not because of unpaid parking tickets; that you can be assured of, oh government.
The first President Bush and his “slow” butler, Dan Quayle, issued statements condemning “Cop Killer” and backing zillions of law enforcement agencies looking to take action on something other than masterminding speed traps all day.
This, just like most cases of government control, was a moronic move, even without the mention of free speech. When trying to keep our country and its oh-so-sweet children safe, what is the first rule those in power to censor always forget? If you tell ’em they can’t have it, they’re going to go get it. Consequently, the atrociously unlistenable Body Count sold thousands more records because of its censorship publicity than it ever would sitting unmolested on music store shelves otherwise.
The same thing goes for 2 Live Crew and Marilyn Manson. No, it’s not quality music, and yes, it may offend some. But lobbying for the censorship of a form of expression that may be offensive to uptight suits and bible-belters will only serve to blow up in the face of those who attempt to do so. Plus, it ultimately ends in the government basically stuffing these guys’ wallets full of jack. It may not be the best music, but it is expression. Therefore, it’s something no government official should be able to get their hands on.
Music is one of the purest outlets of expression. The government already controls how I travel and what I look at on my computer. Do they want to suffocate emotional expression as well?
So, don’t think that The Postal Service’s impending name change is no big deal. With the U.S. government first it’s a name discrepancy, then it’s a song censorship and before too long the plug is pulled on freedom of expression.
Nick Margiasso is scene’s Entertainment Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org