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    Music and the First Amendment Essay

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    In this paper, we will see that having explicit material in music protected by the First Amendment will be resolved by using the media effects theories and concepts which includes the Cumulative Effects Theory, censorship and the Great Happiness Principle. As of right now, explicit words and actions are used in different types of music, which can be accessible by anyone of any age. The types of explicit material can be bad words, sexual references, violence, drugs and degradation of different people including genders. Some of these things can cause people to go to jail or receive a fine if done physically, but if they are sung about in music it does not happen. Why should this type of material be protected only because they are made in an artistic way? People will listen to this type of music and believe it is okay to do it. For example if someone were to talk to a peer about an experience they had that involved violence, the people listening to this might want to do the same.

    This will only happen because the listener might think it is right to do that. This is only a PG rating example, now imagine when the things that are being said are far more violent and explicit that they cannot even receive a rating. What will people hear’sexually degrading lyrics common today not only are disgusting, they also put matches to the powder kegs known as teen hormones, and the results are devastating (Gore, 2006). What Gore is trying to say here is similar to the previous example, people will do what they listen. In the article, Tipper Gore explains that because music talks about sexual acts, teenagers are more likely to undergo those activities.

    Gore explains that rap music can be a factor of diseases and teenage pregnancies. As we can see, this is an issue that is causing many problems. We can see how this type of material is bad by using the Cumulative Effects Theory. Sometimes listening to music will not cause you to act with violence right away, but hearing it multiple times just might do so. That is how the Cumulative Effects Theory works.

    Receiving information over and over again will cause the message to be embedded in the brain and may spark people to follow through with the action. According to the Media Effects Theories PowerPoint from class, Repeated media exposure accumulates and ultimately does have an effect (Nettleton, 2014). It will not happen right away, but eventually it will. Elisabeth Noelle-Neuman explains that advertisings does this by showing numerous of times the same message (Vivian, 2013).

    Knowing this information can be a reason to stop this type of material from being presented. If we know that these types of messages will spark some type of negative behavior, we should find a way to stop it and this is where censorship comes in play. According to the First Amendment there can be any kind of speech, which actually covers Artistic speech according to the Media Law PowerPoint (Nettleton, 2014). Legally, people are allowed to expresses different types of explicit material only because are protected, not because it is right.

    This is where it would need to change. Different types of censorship rules need to be enacted so things like these can be taken off the market. Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others (ACLU, 2002). This did happen in the 1980s.

    Tipper Gore and a group people wanted to censor different type of music not associated with hip-hop/rap (Schineder, 2011). In 1985 however, the association between bitch and rap music is not clear or present, and neither were any consistent themes associated with censorship of this music (Schineder, 2011). In the end they were only able to get labels that explained some albums had explicit material in them. Censorship can happen if more people like Gore are able to express interest to the issue. Figuring out a way to resolve this issue will only be able to occur with support.

    As of right now, people might be aware that there may be an issue with this type of music, but they choose not to do anything about it. This may be something normal in their lifestyle. This is where the Great Happiness Principle can come into play. If people felt that something is good and right, then there can be an initiative to change something. The Great Happiness Principle is where the greatest happiness of something is from a group of people, not the individual (Nettleton, 2014).

    This would mean if the majority were happy about a topic, they would be inclined to agree with it as well. This is what would need to occur to be able to block explicit material that is being shared between people of all ages. This can potentially protect people especially children from the bad influences this type of music is trying to demonstrate. Public pressure on Time Warner in 1992 led to the removal of Cop Killer from Ice-Ts heavy metal album after the songs violent lyrics led to controversial headlines (McCormick, 2010). The song by Ice-T was causing issues, which the public did not enjoy. The publics happiness was for the song to be banned so that people would not listen to that.

    As we can see, the issue with explicit material is something that only a few people might be interested about. We have evidence on how this type of music can be a potential issue for children and actions that might cause. Also we saw that the censorship on music can work but only if a lot of people were to put pressure to the music that mandates this. Lastly to pursue for something to be censored people need to find out what they actually want, what their true happiness is and have that be what they promote.

    Hopefully by seeing the evidence the public can understand that explicit material in music is actually a big issue that needs to be tackled.


    ACLU. (2002) “Freedom of Expression in the Arts and Entertainment. ” American Civil Liberties Union. ACLUGore, T.

    (2006). Bad rap: Lyrics linked to teen promiscuity add to parents’ concerns. Columbus Dispatch, The (OH). McCormick, J. (2010). Protecting Children from Music Lyrics: Sound Recordings and “Harmful to Minors” Statutes, 23 Golden Gate U.

    L. Rev. (1993). http://digitalcommons. law. ggu.

    edu/ggulrev/vol23/iss2/8Schneider, C. J. (2011). Culture, Rap Music, Bitch, and the Development of the Censorship Frame.

    American Behavioral Scientist, 55(1), 36-56. doi:10. 1177/0002764210381728Vivian, J. (2013). The media of mass communication (11th ed.

    ). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson.

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