Censorship is a word of many meanings

Censorship is a word of many meanings. It refers to the suppression of information, ideas, or artisic expression by anyone, artists, writers, government officials, church officials, and artists themselves. In the legal sense it refers to the prevention of circulation of certain messages that the government feels has the ability to do harm to individuals, or society as a whole. I believe censorship effects us most in newspapers, music, television, and films. These are subjects that can not be avoided.

Music has a big effect on the people who are listening to it. It has grown to be one of the largest ways to express ones self. The censorship of music differs from state to state but they all seem to be reaching the same ideas and goals. Most states in the US have become stricter with the censorship of music as they realize how much it has grown to an explicite level in the past 30 years. In 1990 the Recording Industry Association of America decided to prevent kids under the age of 18 of buying explicit music.This was a result of rap groups obscene and explicit lyrics. Black-In-White labels were voluntary placed on the covers of music albums across the US.

As a result of this many anti-censorship groups have acted such as National Campaign for Freedom of Expression. Which holds many group meetings and writes to government officials. “Entertainment Monitor editor-in-chief Charlie Gilreath, who lambasted music industry execs. for exploiting musicians, particularly rap music artists. “They are being exploited and it is a shame,” said Gilreath, who said the recording industry’s current labeling system has become a marketing device. “A child looking for hardcore rap records is not going to buy one that does not have (an advisory label) on it,” he said.”* http://home.xnet.com/~paigeone/noevil/wahearings98.html*

Another act that censors are trying to pass is to have ratings on concerts.” Venue managers and politicians across the US are calling for a rating system on popular music concerts. Managers met in November, in Florida, to discuss a concert ratings system. In an effort to save their jobs and placate complaining parents, managers are urging the music industry to develop and enforce a restrictive ratings system on concerts. Suggestions for ratings systems have ranged from applying the RIAA Parental Advisory labels on cds to tickets for concerts, to a system similar to the ratings currently placed on movies, to a specific content based system which could label concerts with a V for violence or S for sex. All of these systems are intended to restrict access to ‘objectionable’ concerts by fans under 17.

Many managers have threatened to develop and enforce their own individual ratings schemes if the industry does not create one. One venue manager who has spoken out in support of ratings  which would censor music is, Scott Williams, general manager of the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.”* http://www.massmic.com/conratings.html* It seems to me as I have been researching that the music censorship has not been very effective in the way that pro-censorship groups would have liked and thought them to be. I also believe if more control was applied to music censorship it would cause a major decrease in music sales and also more intense conflict.

If I could change the music censorship I would give the public a voice, and after deciding what they would like to do, act on that. I also believe music is a form of expression and, like all forms of expression, is protected by first amendment rights. So, it would be unconstitutional for the government to censor it.

The average American watches 3 hours of Television everyday. That is about 21 hours a week, 94 hours a month. Now that’s a lot of television. The government does not want your three year old son/daughter to watch shows with content such as drugs, sex, voilence, and other obscene ideas. So they give certain restrictions. The issue is that many see this as unconstitutional. People say they break our first ammendment rights. The Federal Communications Commision came up with a TV Rating system. It states the following. There are four catogories of ratings on television programs violence, sex, language, and mature content. These are all put into age catagories: TV-Y7: “may include mild physical or comedic violence…”

TV-PG: may have “infrequent coarse language, limited violence, some suggestive sexual dialogue or situations. TV-14: may contain ”sophisticated themes, sexual content, strong language and more intense violence.” TV-M: may contain “mature themes, profane language, graphic violence and explicit sexual content.” The National Coalition of Television Violence is opposed to the current FCC system of television censorship. They state that “We feel that the Rating System designed by the industry is so vague that it is virtually useless. The major complaint is the fact that violence, sex, language, and “mature content” are all jumbled together and rated for overly broad age categories. Each rating is assigned by the show’s producers, but there is no formal set of guidelines to apply.

Then to add to the confusion, the rating icon is shown for about 30 seconds (or less) over the opening credit. How many times do we even see those 30 seconds? All NCTV is asking is that the industry let us know WHAT IS IN TV programs so we can make INFORMED decisions, for our children and ourselves. Basically, we want the TV equivalent of “truth in advertising or product labeling” just like the labels that are now required on other products and food that we buy.”* http://www.nctvv.org/NCTV%20Images/Ratings.htm*

The changes I would make to the FCC’s current system would be what was stated my the NTCV. I don’t believe that more control is necessary, I believe that they should make not make it so vague. Just tell us exactly what is going to be on a certain show at that certain time so we can make a responsible decision on whether we would like to watch it or turn it off.

Films have been a big hit since the early 1900’s. The censorship of films is moslty contributed by the Motion Picture Association of America and international The Motion Picture Association. The MPAA was founded in 1922 as the trade association of the American film industry.The initial task assigned to the association was to stem the waves of criticism of American movies, then silent, while sometimes rambunctious and rowdy, and to  restore a more favorable public image for the motion picture business. They established a rating system for theatres which are playing films. It is as followed:

G – General Audience – All ages admitted.
PG – Parental Guidance Suggested – Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some material may be innapropriate for children under the age of 13.
R – Restricted – Under 17 requires an accompanying parent of adult guardian.
NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted.

These restrictions are strongly inforced by major theatre companies like ShowCase Cinemas. I know this becaue of a recent study I did for my Media and Society class. The results were: When we went to Showcase we were asked for ID when trying to enter a rated R movie. When we told here we did not have the proper ID she would not sell us the tickets. I believe that these ratings are a good thing. I believe that censorship is wrong but this act of the MPAA will protect the minds of children which are being neglected by their parents. I would not change this in any way.

The newspaper in concept with censorship is a funny thing. There are very little restrictions a newspaper has. They do have to follow the laws of advertising such as no alcohol and ciggarette ads and such but the journalists can write what they want it’s the editors job to censor it so to speak. The photography in some papers are controversal because most newspaper photographers try to capture the most emotional picture of the scene no matter how explicit. The lack of censorship makes journalism a very dangerous job. Of the 24 journalists killed for their work in 2000, according to CPJ research, at least 16 were murdered, most of those in countries where assassins have learned they can kill journalists with impunity. CPJ is the Committee to Protect Journalists. I don’t believe newspapers should be censored. I know it’s a danger, but it impacts the way we think.Without live footage and close up emotional pictures we would not be able to relate with the story. So I would not change the current system of censorship for the newspapers.

The media provides our access to news and information. The citizens of a nation need to stay informed and thus come to trust the media that brings the news and information they desire  without fear that it is a lie, or in any other way not the closest to the truth as possible. Censoring the media is tantamount to mind control of the citizens. I believe this issue is everyone’s problem.

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