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I think that if we were going to have a big Senate hearing about something irrelevant in the mid 80s, we should have had one about gremlins and.


Welcome to You're Wrong about where often our problems come back to the Gipper, but sometimes they come back to the temper.


Oh, that was our first homemade satanic rhyme. It's a tribute to Michelle this week.


It's a tribute to to Michelle Sweet Satan.


I am Michael Hobbs.


I'm a reporter for the Huffington Post. I'm Sarah Marshall. I'm working on a book about the satanic panic. And if you want to support the show, we're on Patreon at Patrón Dotcom Slash.


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Yeah, or not whatever you like. But here we are. We're going to talk about the war on pornography. Yes.


And I think we're going to have a good time, just like the senators had on September 19th. Nineteen eighty five when they had the hearing. We're going to party like it's nineteen eighty five here in the Senate.




Can you catch us up. Yes. What did we cover last week. OK, so our story begins when a mom and wife of Senator Al Gore by the name of Tipper innocently purchases the Purple Rain soundtrack for her 11 year old daughter, who presumably had not seen the movie. Yes. And was horrified by the lyrics to the song Darling Nikki Masturbating with a magazine, a great lyric.


And we discussed in the previous episode how I think we on this show are pro explicit masturbation descriptions and lyrics certified for seven days a week.


Yes. Yeah.


And this leads Tipper to have what I think is a very reasonable and good idea, which is that music should have ratings. So this is this kind of attempt like attempting to regulate corporate offerings really in a way that feels pretty central to the Democratic Party's ideas.


And she's also very explicit about the fact that she doesn't want legislation. She wants the record companies to do this themselves, just like the movie industry did themselves.


Yeah, I mean, what is the literal chain of events from there? Like immediately after deciding music should have a ratings, like what is her first move?


Their first move is sending a letter to Stan Gorbachov, who's the head of the Recording Industry Association of America. And this is where they make the demand for these specific ratings.


You know, they want V for violence, A for drug alcohol over a cold drinks and basically the whole summer as they're doing this huge publicity blitz, like notifying the entire country of all of the transgressions of rock music and all of the women in bikinis on the covers, etc. They are in the background negotiating with the record companies about how exactly this should work.


The main argument that the record companies have against this, and this is a very good point, only three hundred and fifty ish movies come out every year in nineteen eighty five, whereas three thousand five hundred albums featuring 25000 songs come out every year.


So the recording industry, part of their pushback to this is just logistical, like what do we do if there's an album with 20 tracks on it and one of them is really bad?


Does that mean we label the whole record? I mean, one of the central bullshit iness of this hearing, which I feel like doesn't come up enough when you read these sort of like VH one, countdown's like the time when heavy metal pushed back against Tipper.


Is that OK? The hearing is on September 19th.


Nineteen eighty five. Right. In August, the recording industry had already caved.


So basically as they've done this like month long negotiation with the Washington wives who were pushing all this, the recording industry said, look, it's not going to work to have these specific ratings, like warning parents of the specific content of the albums because logistically it's just too hard. However, we are open to the idea of a generic warning label. Right. And we know that this is what we ended up with. That's pretty good.


You know, this had already been done a month before the hearing. So basically everything that they talk about at the hearing is essentially a moot point.


And yet they manage to make this seem very exciting somehow.


I also think it's under covered that this hearing is straightforwardly corrupt.


Go on in the Tipper Gore's book because she's writing her book two years after the hearing, she says in September. Nineteen eighty five, Senator John Danforth of Missouri scheduled a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, which he chaired. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over communications issues and wanted to investigate the prevalence of pornographic, violent rock lyrics for its own information, not to consider any legislation.


So the way that she presents it is just like, well, this guy, John Danforth, just was walking down the street one day chewing gum, and he said, let's have a hearing on this.


Why don't I do three things at once and just wow everybody even her that what she doesn't mention is that his wife is a member of. The PMRC, we should think of the PMRC exactly the way that we think of PETA or the NRA or any other interest group.


It's pretty fucked up for a senator to call a hearing at which one of his Senate colleagues wife testifies.


It's for the kids.


Got to cut a few corners to save the kids, like if his wife was like a ballistic missile consultant and all of a sudden he's doing a hearing on ballistic missiles, which is like only tangentially related to the mandate of this actual committee.


Like this is the Commerce Committee.


This is not like the free speech committee or like the music committee or she works for like the corn syrup lobby.


And he suddenly is like, let's have a hearing on more Fruit Loops in our schools. Exactly.


And also, OK, tell me if I'm, like, totally off base here. But I actually think that the misogyny inherent in the critique of Tipper Gore and the other Washington wives is central for why this wasn't a bigger deal.


The fact that we're calling them Washington wives is even now kind of indicates that I have this recurring mental image of like the female characters and all the president's men. Yes.


Like all of the backlash to the PMRC has this very patronizing tone. It's like a bunch of housewives.


They're drinking box wine and they're mad about their rock lyrics.


They're trying to slap on the wrist. Exactly.


And it it puts me in a weird position because I agree with that critique. Like, I do think that this is frivolous and that they should have spent their time on something else.


But it's also like the reasons why people are calling them frivolous and the reasons why people do not take them seriously as a legitimate lobbying organization is because they are a bunch of like big haired shoulder pads, aides, wives.


And it's just like, well, the wives want us to have a hearing. I guess we'll have a hearing.


I mean, to be fair, in the eighties, everyone looked equally ridiculous. Yes. Do you think that this is also like this is a symptom of like the only kind of political action that you can really move forward as a woman at the time that like if you also mock women for having this sort of frivolous shared cause, it's like, well, they were denied the opportunity to really be invested in more significant causes. It feels as if everyone sort of latched on to this partly because they knew it was something that couldn't be taken away from them.


Well, I mean, I think it is one of those things where the framing is always that, like your your identity as a Washington wife comes before anything else.


I do think that's one of the ways that people were able to infantilize this entire movement, even though eventually this movement gets basically everything they want.


Well, yeah, because it aligns with interests that already exist. Yes, it's censorious. It's basically Christian, or at least it aligns extremely well. Yeah. And it's for the children, which is the best way to do kind of any kooky thing you want to do, which we've talked about before.


And so this this drives me nuts. This is how Tipper describes her sort of behind the scenes conversations in her book when she's talking about the hearing. So she talks about how this Danforth guy has scheduled a hearing. She says the hearing put me in an awkward position because my husband, Albert Gore Jr., was a freshman member of the Commerce Committee.


Some critics mistakenly assumed that he had asked for the hearing when in fact, both he and I had had reservations about it.


I thought the PMRC would be better off working with artists in the industry on their own terms instead of dragging everybody before TV cameras on Capitol Hill.


I believe you, Tipper, but you know, I wouldn't blame someone who does.


I, I do not believe a word is an organization that does nothing but raise awareness of an issue.


Right. They don't have researchers. All they are doing is giving interviews to the press and trying to whip up panic, public panic about this issue. She's like, now, why would I want a congressional hearing?


I wouldn't want to bring my little issue in front of cameras. Yeah, there can be good faith in there to the extent that maybe it would be nice to be able to, like, do something, anything in politics without creating a media frenzy. But we all know you have to say sorry.


So the rest of this episode, we're just going to walk through sort of speaker by speaker like what happens at this hearing. We're going to watch a bunch of clips. Yeah. And I say I hope we're going to get clips.


So we start with the opening statement of John Danforth, who is this Republican senator from Missouri. He basically lays out the fundamental contradiction of this hearing. So listen to this.


The reason for this hearing is not to promote any legislation.


Indeed, I don't know of any suggestion that any legislation be passed, but to simply provide a forum for airing the issue itself, for ventilating the issue, bringing it out into the public domain, the concern is that the public at large should be aware of the existence of this kind of music and that kids of all ages are able to buy it and therefore we need to use our time.


In the Senate to raise awareness, which is something that is not our job and which could easily be done by practically anyone else. Thank you.


So it's basically my wife is working on this issue. Yeah. I'm not going to legislate about it, but I will direct an avalanche of attention to her weird pet issue.


And then you take a drink from one of those comically tiny bottles of water.


We also get an opening statement from Paula Hawkins, who's a Republican senator from Florida.


She says, As chairman of the Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism Subcommittee, this is a subject I'm very familiar with. We decided as a committee in the last 18 months to hold hearings discussing the role of the media and drug abuse and prevention and education there. We learned that by the fourth grade, children have already decided whether or not to take drugs.


Citation needed Paula. I don't know where that's from. That sounds like a dare propaganda.


This is one of the statements of the entire hearing that I agree the most with. OK. She says it's the parent we blame. If the child gets on drugs, it's the parent we blame. If the child commits suicide, it's the parent we blame. If the child burns down a building, just how much guilt can we place on these parents without giving them some assistance? It's like, follow that thought, Paula.


They're going, Paula.


And the way we can assist these struggling American parents is by putting little label, say, Dixon snacks on their kids.


We then get to our visual aid portion of the hearing, which I love. So Paula shows three albums.


Nice. One of the albums we already looked at at the Wendy Williams one where she's in the world where your bikini love it. She then shows then I'm going to send these to you again. I'm not going to post these on our website, but you can easily Google to them. This is Def Leppard Pyromania.


Oh, it's a it's a building on fire.


Yeah. Yeah. And we're looking at it through a scope on a gun, I guess, like a flamethrower or something.


It looks sort of like Terminator vision in those movies. Yeah. So basically it's the povey presumably of whoever has just launched whatever you need to like in a building to take out several floors and just put like a gaping fiery hole in a skyscraper. Yes.


So this album is glorifying violence, something something terrorism. I mean, this is before we have school shootings as a phenomenon and before we have terrorism as a moral panic.


Yeah, I'm thinking of 9/11, which was uncannily like so the third album cover that she shows.


I know you've seen this one.


Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I forgot that it looks like this, but of course it does. Oh my God.


It's funny because like I on so many episodes, I'm like, why is it the like heteronormativity feels so violent? And then I'm like, well yeah.


So what is it Sarah.


It's animal parentheses f stark, stark like a beast. And it depicts a gentleman who is wearing a codpiece that is tiger print and actually looks like a chastity belt. But it's like your first chastity belt because a circular saw. Yeah. Is coming out of that just like yeah it's it's and he's got blood all over him I might add.


Really fake blood like neon red blood. It's gorgeous. Yeah. It's like Suspiria. Like Tempora blood. Yeah.


Do you think this is misogynistic. I don't know that I know what this album is supposed to mean. I think it's just scary.


It's an album cover that makes you sort of put a hand over your area like Don Cheadle in Ocean's Eleven.


Yeah, because it's not clear to me if, like, the circular saw is coming out of his junk or if the circular saw is like attacking his junk.


Right. Like what kinds of victim? Yeah. I also would like to mention that the song that this is depicting, like this actual song, is about masturbating and fantasizing about dominating women. Like the first lyric. The first line of it is I got pictures of naked ladies. Yeah. There could be like a conversation to be had again without an eye toward legislation about like, why is there so much violent sexual fantasy? Yes. Let's take some time and talk about that.


But, you know, nobody wants to watch that.


I guess it so reminds me of the morality that I grew up with where it's much more about vulgarity than it is about morality. Yeah.


Like, the only thing she's interested in is this extremely narrow version of basically Christian morality, which, like you said, I swear, the weirdest thing is that this WASP album is really this cover is almost upholding Christian morality, because I feel like the message that Christianity and sort of conventional American sexual mores have toward girls having sex is like if you ever have sex. Even one time you'll be different forever. Yes, and essentially maimed. Yes, you know, and it's like that's not far off from like a circular saw coming for you.


That's true. Actually, they should love this picture.


This is really insightful because it's you're basically casting the male crotch as fundamentally threatening. Yeah.


And this very suddenly obvious way, as opposed to just, you know, what it is, which is a sort of cute, embarrassing little organism.


It's also, I think one of the most important aspects of this is this indicates how full of shit the PMRC is to me, because these are not song lyrics, these are record covers.


And everything that were ostensibly talking about today is supposed to be about the question, should we put warning labels on music with offensive lyrics?


And here we have two album covers that are like pretty blatantly offensive. And in some ways that gets rid of the need for a warning label. There's no way you would buy this album for your 11 year old daughter and be like, I had no idea if you bought this last album for your 11 year old daughter.


I'm like, I want to know every single other thing that ever happened in your family.


Everything sort of like this album cover is doing what you say you want.


It is warning you this is inappropriate for children.


Right. And that is what metal covers are, you know, like colorful bird.


So after our presentation of the three album covers, we then get our first medley of music videos.


Yeah. Do you know which videos they played for the committee?


I have no idea. I'm really I just. Oh, my God, I can't wait. Did they. They didn't play she bop did they know they played.


They chose very weird videos to play. So the first one is Van Halen hot for teacher.


It's a cute, very cute video. So do you remember the video. Have you seen it. You know what it's about. Yeah.


It's a little dweeb going to school and being hot for teacher. And Eddie Van Halen is bouncing around. Yes. And the teacher is hot and dances around in a bikini a little bit. It's hard to distinguish it from literally hundreds of other videos of the time. We were just like, let's not try that hard and let's hire one or two beautiful women and put them in some shiny bikinis and have them jump around a little bit. And there you go.


There's video. It's not rocket science.


You know, I wish that in these presentations, in the congressional hearing, they had said more about why this video is offensive, because it feels to me like the reason they find it offensive is because it features a woman in a bikini.


Yeah. I mean, she's got kind of a passion. That's she I mean, which reminds you of the bikini or the bathing suit competition in Miss America. She's not really wearing anything fundamentally different from what you see in that. So I guess you could argue that it's inappropriate to suggest to children the idea that their teachers can be hot, but like they know that.


OK, so video number two is we're not going to take it by Twisted Sister.


Yes, this is a class act. OK, we're going to watch this together. OK, you got it. It's got a James Woods looking motherfucker. Three, two, one, go. All right, Mr..


What do you think you're doing? You call this a room.


This is a pigsty.


I want you to straighten up this area now. You are a disgusting slob. Stand up straight. Tuck in that shirt. Just that belt buckle, tie those shoes. You do nothing. You are nothing. Just sit in here all day and play that sick, repulsive electric twang. Oh, I cried and I'm sixteen. And you carry that. That's that's guitar. Who are you? Where do you come from. Are you listening to me. What do you want to do with your life.


I want to rock. OK, so the little boy spun around and became the spider and he looks like Trixie Mattel. Yes, I guess Trixie Mattel looks like him.


Imagine this being played in Congress.


You know what? I'm sure it was one of their better obsessions.


There's something extremely funny to me about, like people playing this video and these like, panicked, hushed tones.


Yeah, like serious. What your children are listening to.


Like they're watching like a leaked the wedding video. Yeah. Yeah. Like, I cannot stress enough how much makeup Dee Snider is wearing. He's going to be like three pallets a week. Yeah. Like just the vividness of the hues.


Yes. And you know, like I've always loved the song, like it's just like a nice it's a good song.


It also has the lyric We've got the right to choose, I think. And it really makes me think of abortion.


Yeah, that was fantastic. And like, I'm sorry, like how many American children have a dad who's like, mean and scary that way?


I know millions, millions upon millions. Like, how is this a threat to them?


So later on, famously, Snyder will testify at this hearing. And the case against the song, of course, is that it glorifies violence and that it glorifies sort of standing up to authority.


Well, that's terrible. I know that, first of all, is fine.


Secondly, he calls it road runner violence.


Right? The first thing that happens to the dead is that the kid is playing guitar and then he's like, I want to rock. And then he strums his guitar and the power of his rockin glass, his dad backward and pushes them through a wall.


And then he lands on the ground in this sort of like, cartoonish way. And then mom comes by and dumps water on him like it's very obviously meant to be funny.


And also, like, I'm fine with having images of violence against dads.


Yes, because because you guys work for the government doesn't mean that you have to defend the idea that all parents in America deserve the authority that they expect from their children. Like that's a ridiculous proposition.


It seems noteworthy that the only reason this song is on the sort of filthy 15 of the worst offending music in America is because of the video, which again, is irrelevant for the ostensible reason we are here today, which is to talk about warning labels on CD covers at the record store.


Once again, like I realize, we're not allowed to look at country music because you don't want to come from Nashville.


But the country music is about that, too. Like this is the basic experience of being human as wanting to have some kind of say in what you do with your existence. Like, this is not a twisted sister problem.


I mean, a lot of people do point out if you want to talk about music with violent themes like have you have you been to operas yet? Like many operas have extremely violent themes in them.


My favorite opera, Don Giovanni, ends with a statue coming directly up from hell and pulling the protagonist into hell because just literally drags him to hell.


You know, that's the end. OK, so they watch the videos or we're not going to take it. And for teachers, that's going to persuade anyone of anything.


And then we get one speech by Susan Baker, who's one of Tipper's colleagues on the PMRC. She just basically uses like boilerplate. This is bad for kids.


I'm in the PTA and then we have Tipper gives a little speech, although Tipper sort of doesn't do the sort of moral panic stuff. She mostly talks about the logistics of the various labeling ideas.


She also brings up this sort of plan, the solution to the problem, which comes up a ton in the rest of the hearing, which is this absurd idea, which is that they're going to require every record store in America to keep a copy of all the lyrics of all of the albums behind the counter available to parents at any time.


No, it's like, ma'am, do you know how many albums stores carry that's going to be a stack of paper like 15 feet high, like your kids says, like, I want to buy this Pink Floyd album and you have to go look at the lyrics to the entire The Wall.


Yes. You buy it for them if you take 45 minutes.


It's funny because there are some parents who are already that ridiculously dedicated and they're already doing their facing this kind of thing happen than the people who would look at the record store, a copy of the lyrics and the ones who would be figuring them out anyway, because that's an amazing amount of time to drop on something that really doesn't matter all that much.


There's so much of the rest of the hearing is people talking about her, like the publishing rights for the lyrics are different than the music rights to the songs.


So this would actually be a huge challenge for the record companies to do. And there's all this sort of back and forth about how to do this.


Like one person proposes, like, oh, well, we should require artists to have the lyrics in sort of the album. Sleeve that comes with the album, but then somebody else points out that by the time you could read the lyrics, you've already bought the album. So there's no point in doing this like it's just a bad idea. But instead of anyone just being like, sorry, guys, this is bad, they just sort of debate the particulars all day.


And then they're like the Electoral College it is. So now we get into the famous phase of the hearing where we have a number of celebrity guests.


Oh, my God. So our first test of fire testimony is Frank Zappa.


I always wondered, like Frank Zappa doesn't really make the kind of music that they're shitting on in the hearing, like he's not really a heavy metal or heavy metal guy.


You know, none of his songs have been singled out by Tipper Gore.


So the reason why he's there and the reason why he's deputized to be sort of the face of the pushback is that no other artist was doing this.


He mentions in his memoir that this whole summer when the PMRC was doing their massive campaign, one hundred and fifty news stories, he was the only musical artist that pushed back in any concerted way.


Why do you think that was?


I mean, he seems to think that most other artists are just chickenshit and they don't want to be seen as political.


And a lot of them just simply underestimated that this would go anywhere, partly because, you know, it's a bunch of Washington wives and nothing's going to happen. It is interesting, actually, that like, you know, Madonna, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, like big artists were being targeted by this.


They didn't do any of the push back. And so Frank Zappa was kind of like a one man fight back against the PMRC machine, like he started putting out open letters he would publish like full page ads in newspapers.


This is what I mean about how big the shift to like Twitter and social media is like because that we it's really hard to go back to remember what it was like when, like, you could not hear directly from celebrities like, yes, you didn't have that ability and they didn't have that ability.


And you could just go months without hearing from like a massively famous artist. Like if they didn't want to put out a statement, they would just not be heard from.


Yeah, you could be like, I wonder what Catherine Oxenberg is up to and then you wouldn't know.


And so we are going to watch a clip of Frank Zappa testifying. Here we go.


Three to one go. 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 interpretational and enforced mental problems inherent in the proposals design. It is my understanding that inlaw First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation.


No one is forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton into their homes. Thanks to the Constitution, they are free to buy other forms of music for their children. Apparently, they insist on purchasing the works of contemporary recording artists in order to support a personal illusion of aerobic sophistication. Ladies, please be advised. The 898 purchase price does not entitle you to a kiss on the foot from the composer or performer in exchange for a spin on the family Victrola.


I was great.


I love Frank Zappa, right. I do think that having some kind of indication that there is going to be scary, scary stuff in an album is a good idea. And we did end up with that. But also this idea that, like, if you purchase any media in the world without research or foresight and then listen to it and it shocks your sensibilities that you have the right to, like, squeeze the artist out of a livelihood or something like that, like that is a very insidious point of view.


And we can see it growing in the American mind at the same time. Certainly, it's stronger and weirder now.


Oh, yeah. It's also fascinating that this whole thing comes up because Tipper Gore accidentally buys Purple Rain for her 11 year old daughter, as Frank Zappa points out in his memoir, but not in his Senate testimony.


Prince was already an extremely controversial musical artist whose sexually explicit lyrics had been the subject of protests and stuff for years.


Yeah, so the idea of just like I innocently bought Purple Rain, it's like Purple Rain is an R rated movie. If Tipper Gore had done any work at all, she easily could have found out that that was not appropriate for an 11 year old.


I don't know. It's interesting, too, because, like, kids kind of know what they're bothered by and adults can kind of figure that out by asking them. But like, there's no indication in the story that, like, the daughter was disturbed, you could find lots of stories about kids being terrified by media that they encounter, but probably not.


A lot of it is Madonna lyrics because how can a guitarist song really be? Exactly.


He also brings up the like, sort of logistics of children getting this music because, you know, everything that's on the radio is already censored.


Right? Like the radio has a completely different set of standards.


The only sort of explicit stuff that kids can really have access to is what they buy at a record store.


And then it's like, well, what 11 year old has their own money to go into a record store by themselves.


I mean, an 11 year old kid, I think reasonably have the money for like one album. So if we're worried about, like, the random rich kids who are able to go into a record store and buy, like, the works. Right. These kids probably also have access to Quaaludes or whatever. So, yeah, he's excited about that. I mean, what I feel like Citizens Zappa is expressing is that, like, this is not about like I have no choice but to buy Sheena Easton records for this idea that, like, something is popular that I don't like and that is bad and I don't want it.


Yes. And it's like, well, sorry. Yeah, yeah.


Frank Zappa also makes a point that I feel like has gotten overlooked in all of this. He's talking about this sort of specific rating system. They want, you know, V for violins, et cetera. He doesn't put this in like the best terms. What he says is the establishment of a rating system, voluntarily or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians do not like. What if the next group of Washington wives demands a large yellow jay on all material written or performed by Jews in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine and a no for for material made by Lazar's spaceless, of course.


But like I mean, you're never supposed to make Nazi references. We all know about Godwin's Law, etc., but the Church of Satan is a real religion. There are people who identify as pagans and Wiccans. Yes.


So if you have an O on a record, you're literally warning Americans that the content of a specific religion is contained on this album, like not a great road to go down as a country.


That is a great point, because then that's you know, that is just American government having to come out and admit, like, we can't say I love Satan because then actual Satan will grow stronger, actual Satan. And it's like. Are reconstructing our choices as a nation around what will or will not empower the literal Satan. We all agree to believe based on those who walks among us.


Yes. Yeah. Frank Zappa also points out the real reason for the hearing. Do you want to hear this?


Yes. So the actual context for this hearing is that parallel to all of this music, lyrics, bullshit, nonsense.


The record companies are lobbying Congress for a blank tape tax, OK, which is exactly what it sounds like. Yeah, it's a tax on Blancpain. So we have completely forgotten about this.


But the entire movie and recording industry freaked out with the introduction of cassette players and VCRs because all of a sudden you could record movies from TV and you could record songs from the radio.


But they didn't realize is that the average American is either too lazy or to confuse the program. A VCR is how things went for 20 years.


So Universal Studios actually sued Sony over this. It was called the Betamax case.


So in 1984, the year before these hearings, the Supreme Court ruled that it was fine for TV broadcasts, but we still didn't have a clear ruling on recording music.


So at the time that this is happening, the House is debating bill, H.R. two nine one one, which this is nuts, which would charge manufacturers of cassette players one cent per minute for blank cassette and dual cassette tapes like boomboxes.


That would have to and you could like record from one tape to another. Yeah, those would have a 25 percent surcharge on top of them.


Oh, my God, this is shameless. It's so shameless, dude. And the recording industry would have gotten two hundred and fifty million dollars a year from this tax.


Four of the senators who are at the committee hearing are also on the committee that is working on the blank tape tax.


There's no clear smoking gun, but it's very clear that the record companies were like, we need all of these senators to do us a solid later in the year. Their wives are campaigning against us. So, like, why don't we just cave to their wives and then come back to them and be like, hey, we helped you out with that whole wife thing, so could you help us out on this blank tape thing?


Wow. It's the perfect crime. Yes. And one thing Frank Zappa points out is that Congress is considering doing something extremely unpopular.


Right. Putting like making cassette tapes much more expensive.


And so what's a good way to distract the public from the very unpopular thing you're about to do? That's going to be a giveaway to these massive, already rich record companies.


Have a hearing about porn rock like talk about masturbating with a magazine. Yeah. I mean, you know, the PTA was lobbying on this beforehand. And, like, I don't think Tipper, like, knew about it. Like, I think it's much less conspiratorial than Frank Zappa says that it is.


And because it's already kind of hard to enforce people and issues around like manufacturing taxes, tariffs, copyright law, like these are all the phrases that immediately bore people. Exactly. Even if it affects their lives directly and they end up being bled dry.


Yeah. Yeah. So next celebrity guest. Do you know who this is? That Middler actually not super far off.


So we have testimony from Frank Zappa. And later, we'll have Snyder, the lead singer of Twisted Sister.


And in between, we have John Denver.


Yes, I feel like this would be someone who, like Tipper Gore, is the least interested in censoring of almost anyone. Yeah, exactly.


So I think they did this strategically because they have like two rockers right there, Frank Zappa, and they have these Snider. And in between, they wanted somebody who's like one of the good artists, a guy with normal hair.




And who's going to be like, I, too, am really sick of this heavy metal stuff. I have kids. I am disgusted by all of this too, like they wanted both sides.


I am endeavouring to rock as well. Yeah, but not like that.


To give you a sense of how loved John Denver was at the time, John Denver couldn't stay for the entire hearing because right after his testimony, he had to go to NASA to interview to be the first musician in space.


So here is a clip of his testimony.


Good looking guy. OK, good looking guy. Three, two, one, go.


I'm here to address the issue of a possible rating system in the recording industry, labeling records where excesses of explicit sex graphic violence have occurred. And furthermore, references to drugs and alcohol or the occult are included in the lyrics. These hearings have been called to determine whether or not the government should intervene to enforce this practice. Mr. Chairman, this would approach censorship. I've be very clear that I'm strongly opposed to censorship of any kind in our society or anywhere else in the world.


I've had, in my experience, two encounters with the sort of censorship my song, Rocky Mountain High, was banned from many radio stations as a drug related song. This was obviously done by people who've never seen or been to the Rocky Mountains and also had never experienced the elation, celebration of life or the joy in living that one feels when he observes something is wondrous as the Perseid meteor shower. On a moonless and cloudless night when there are so many stars that you have a shadow from the starlight.


And you're out camping with your friends, your best friends, and introducing them to one of nature's most spectacular light shows for the very first time. Obviously, a clear case of misinterpretation. Mr. Chairman, what assurance have that any national panel to review my music to make any better judgment?


Oh, I love how he's blaming ignorance of Colorado. I know what you need.


A little mini vacation. Isn't that lovely? Oh, I love that. I really loved that. I loved it. And now I love John Denver. I got it.


You know, my thing that, like, I get the most moved when someone is given the opportunity to be pitted against somebody else and they don't take it.


Yeah. Hey, sweetie, guess what? Bad news. Your boyfriend is cheating on you with me. Yes.


Like this makes my heart so full. It's very clear that they invited John Denver on to talk shit on heavy metal and he just didn't take them up on it.


He's like, no, that's a form of creative expression. I love it.


It compares this effort to the Nazis at one point.


I think thing you don't realize is that John Denver was the Snyder 15 years ago. Exactly. He had like longer than collar length hair. And he sang about feelings.




And I also I just really love that he like so he goes on for so long with this little tangent about camping.


And he could have just been like, obviously they had never been to the Rocky Mountains. And you kind of, I guess, continued. But he was like, let me tell you, you look at these people sitting in this crowded, like relatively small room, really just like, thank you, John.


Denver feels like he's offering everyone's favorite brain a little sip of water. He's such a, like, glorious normy.


Yeah. He ends his testimony with we can end hunger. We can rid the world of nuclear weapons. We can learn to live together as human beings on a planet that travels through the universe, living the example of peace and harmony among all people.


Probably not on the PMRC hearings, though. Probably not today.


But it's a nice thought for him. It's like, OK, it is really great.


Yeah, he's he's sort of coming up and being like, listen, you hired John Denver and you are getting hurt.


I also know that.


So both Frank Zappa and Snyder say in their memoirs that they had no idea what John Denver was going to say. Yeah. So they are like backstage at this hearing, like jumping up and down and hugging like.


Yes, Denver coming through. Oh, what's like after this forum? Like a Traveling Wilburys like supergroup Snyder, Frank Zappa and John Denver?


I guess so.


Now, you know what the opposite of the John Denver testimony. So we're going to watch a bunch of clips from the D. Snyder testimony because his is the longest and potentially most interesting. But I feel like we have to just watch his entrance because it's incredible.


I'll bet we do. He says in his memoir that the reason why he didn't wear a suit wasn't as some sort of statement is because he literally didn't own a suit.


Why would you and then if you buy one special for this, then it's like they're winning and you have one, three, two, one, go.


Oh yeah. And I can.


Snider Oh my God.


I know he didn't own a suit, but he probably did on something more professional than like a tank and a denim vest.


Now he's taken off the denim vest. He is just poured into into this outfit. Yeah. He's like he's a big guy and he is just know because very tight everything. He looks great. He does also the logistics of having hair that long.


I just feel like it must get caught indoors all the time.


Snider thank you for being here. Right around here. I don't know if it's morning or afternoon. They'll say both. Good morning and good afternoon. My name is Dee Snider. That's an idea or a you from Long Island.


I'd like to tell the committee a little bit about myself. I'm thirty years old, married. I have a three year old son. I was born and raised a Christian and I still adhere to those principles. Believe it or not, I do not drink, I do not smoke, and I do not do drugs. I just like to look great. I do plan and write the songs for a rock and roll band name Twisted Sister that is classified as heavy metal.


And I pride myself on writing songs that are consistent with my above mentioned beliefs.


So are you familiar with a song called Under the Blade by Twisted Sister? Much of his testimony is about this song because it's one of Tipper's favorites. So, OK, I'm a to link. All right. You want to read some of it?


I sure do. OK, under the blade, a glint of steel, a flash of light. You know, you're not going home tonight, Jack. First, witch doctors or mind nowhere to run everywhere you'll find you can't escape from the bed you've made, when your time has come, you'll accept the blade. You're cornered in the alleyway. You know you're not alone. You know, it's going to end this way. The chill goes to the bone.


Now, here it comes, that glistening light. It goes into your side. The blackness comes tonight, the night the blade is going to ride. It's funny how, like, even the most, like, allegedly menacing songs when he goes read the lyrics with no music, they just all sound like Longfellow, basically. Exactly.


So what is what does that say to you? Like, what do you think this song is about?


I don't know. Like is it about mugging someone?


Maybe so to Tipper. To Tipper. This is a song about sadomasochism. Oh, like BDM. I definitely didn't get that.


I mean, if you want to find it, you can find it. But there's stuff in there about sort of like a bright light is in your eyes. Yeah.


And like your hands are strapped and like I don't write. I don't think a bright light is like a BDM thing. Right.


It's that's like an interrogation thing is. Yeah. That makes me think of you're cornered in that alleyway. You know, you're not alone. I mean I just feel like yeah. I'm not part of that scene, but I don't feel like people corner each other in alleyways that much as a submissive or a bondage thing.


So the thing that Dee Snider says in his testimony that gets him superduper shouted at is he says, as the creator of Under the Blade, I can say categorically that the only sadomasochism, bondage and rape in the song is in the mind of Miss Gore.


People freak out. Well, if you didn't write it, you're allowed to say you didn't write it seriously. Like if I write a novel and then there is like a Senate hearing that's like Miss Marshall is trying to tell America's youths to do this thing. And I you know, I have the right to be like, excuse me. Yes, art is based on interpretation. And you can, like, get a message out of a piece of art that the author didn't put there.


And like, that's kind of a universally accepted concept. Like he put it more delicately, but like, why bother?


Yes, I keep thinking of the thing in Parks and Recreation where Rashida Jones goes to speed dating and she's like trying to ask how it works.


And the lady is like, are you asking me how to flirt with men like this is are you asking me how to listen to music?


You can't just say to somebody like your song is about this.


A lot of people think you can, though. I guess so.


So, OK, we are going to watch Al Gore skillfully interrogate Dee Snider about the real meaning of this song. Nice.


Oh, my God. I feel like this is a dream I had. Are we got really? This is amazing. OK, here it comes.


I, I'm I'm aware that Frank Zappa and John Denver cover quite a spectrum and I do enjoy them both. I am not, however, a fan of Twisted Sister and I will readily say that. Mr. Snyder, what is the name of your fan club? The fan club is called the My Friends of Twisted Sister. And what does FMF stand for when it is spelled out?


It starts with a sick motherfucking friends of Twisted Sister. Is this also a Christian group? Oh, I don't believe that profanity has anything to do with Christianity.


Point to Mr. Snyder Insurge. You say your song Under the Blade is about surgery. Have you ever had surgery with your hands tied and your legs strap?


The song was written about my guitar player, Eddie Yojana. He was having polyps removed from his throat and he was very fearful of his operation. And I said, Eddie, well, I'm in a hospital. I'm going to write a song for you. The I said it was about the fear of operations. I think people imagine being helpless on a table, a bright light in the face, the blade coming down on them and having totally afraid that they may wake up.


Whoknows dead. Handicapped is a certain fear of hospitals. That's what that's in my imagination. What I see the hospitals like, sir. A reference to the hospital in the song. No, there isn't. But there is a reference to a woman. Sadomasochism or bond or bondage. Yes. I'm sorry. The reference to to someone whose hands are tied down and whose legs are strapped down and he's going under the blade to be cut. Yes, there is.


All right. So it's not really a wild leap of the imagination to to jump to the conclusion that that's about something other than surgery or hospitals, neither of which are mentioned in the song. No, it's not a wild show. But I think what I said at one point was that songs allow a person to put their own imagined. Experiences and dreams into the lyrics people can interpret in many ways, my was looking for sadomasochism in bondage and she found it.


Someone looking for surgical references would have found that as well. Yeah.


Boy, how did this man fail to capture the love of the electorate? I'll never understand it seriously.


It's the sweetest thing I've ever heard. He wrote a song about his bandmates, Paula.


I know. I would also say, like Poire Snyder, Al Gore is like, is there a reference to a hospital in there?


Yeah, it's like really do like a song has to have a reference to a hospital to be about doctors.


And also it says the word doctor in it. Yes.


I love how Snyder it's just like, well, Senator Gore, this is what songs are. And then Al Gore is like, oh right. Yeah, that's true.


Oh my God.


I also feel like if this was written as a song, I feel like there would have been like two verses about consent and like safeword. Yes. Nobody takes that shit more seriously than fetishise.


Yes. And it would have been a wildly beloved by some people because there's like never enough media about them. And when it is, it's about Madonna putting wax.


You know, I feel like music is being represented by people who are like being very sharp and also very human. Yes. And kind of representing like this is why we need music in the world.


Are we have one more we have one more clip.


This is another attempted roasting of these Nitra. I'm so excited. This is Senator Rockefeller reacting to D. Snyder saying that, you know, the the rape is in the mind of Tipper Gore.


Whatever the vehemence with which you attacked Senator Gore's wife, I detected sort of a defensiveness somehow on your part, sort of the lack of unsureness of where you stand in this. Why would why did you feel it necessary to attribute some of the qualities to her that you did? Why was that important you addressed? First of all, I wasn't attacking Senator Gore's wife. I was attacking a member of the PMRC to suicide of Gore's wife by name. But her name is Tipper Gore, isn't it?


Yeah, OK. I didn't say the senator's wife.


I said Tipper Gore is great. He's a very good representative for this. Yeah. And also, like, having I mean, all of us have spent a lot of time, I think, in the last couple of years, probably more so than before, like watching and hearing people being grilled and giving exactly this kind of testimony. And most people who actually work in government for a living like 90 percent of them, I would say, do much worse than be Snyder who feel that he is not trained for this at all.


Yes, he only found out about this hearing like days in advance. That's amazing. I also think it's so telling that the senator is like, how dare you attack his wife? Yeah. And then descenders like this is the head of a lobbying organization. Yes.


These Snyder reveals that he's capable of understanding her is like operating here in a professional capacity. Yes.


And if we're all here because of Al Gore's wife, why are we here? Dude, she has entered a public debate about an issue of national import. It's OK to criticize her ideas. It's weird to then hide behind like you were mean to my wife.


You remind us someone's wife, she's the head of an organization and she's the wife.


And it's also like that is insulting to Al Gore, right?


Yes. Even if you're not taking her ideas seriously, you're like, hey, don't say that about Al Gore's.


So after the rock stars, we have some other boring stuff like the head of the PTA shows up, the head of the recording industry show like I'm skipping them all because they're just boilerplate and they don't really say anything interesting.


But at the end of the day, they bring on two expert witnesses who are like Sarah, some of the most atrocious congressional testimony I've ever seen.


And like I've seen some congressional testimony you have.


So the first person that goes is somebody named Dr. Joe Stussy, who's a professor of rock and roll history, which sounds like, OK, he's going to give us some historical context.


This is the fucking quote. Today's heavy metal music is categorically different from previous forms of popular music.


It contains the element of hatred, a meanness of spirit. Its principal themes are extreme violence, extreme rebellion, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and perversion and Satanism.


I know personally of no form of popular music before, which has had as one of its central elements, the element of hatred.


This was in Congress to hatred.


He also the only other thing about his demented testimony that I'll mention is that he brings up as if it's real subliminal message. Oh, so, yeah, he says that, like, there's all these satanic messages in the songs, sometimes sub audible tracks are mixed in underneath other louder tracks. These are heard by the subconscious mind, but not the conscious mind. Sometimes the messages are audible, but are backwords called back masking?


There is disagreement among experts regarding the effectiveness of subliminal. We need more research on that.


Nevertheless, yeah, there's no evidence that this is true.


But anyway, I'm just going to read into the record at a congressional hearing.


This is what led me to want to start doing this show in the first place. Was that my horror from childhood that like, there's a lot of things that just have persisted as ideas. People have his because self proclaimed experts have gotten up in public and confidently sworn to the existence of something that they have no ability to ascribe to the existence of.


They're just saying stuff to come up and say stuff and then say, break it down. And we're like, oh, it's written down. It must be real stuff, right? Like, no. Yeah.


And back masking is, you know, it's a whole element of the satanic panic to like. One of the things that you can actually hear if you play Stairway to Heaven backwards is you can hear the phrase, here's to my sweet Satan nice, which is just like, I don't know, that song has a lot of words in it. It feels like it's kind of difficult to like if you're trying to do a really good song, which is what that is.


It seems like it's adding another extraneous element of difficulty to add a backwards message about Satan that no one's brain is capable of picking up. And even if Led Zeppelin did that and believed that, that still doesn't mean that it's capable of influencing anyone. And even if it did, they're just going to have the idea.


Here's to my sweet Satan in their heads, which like, OK, also, if this worked, wouldn't we all be doing whatever Missy Elliott was saying in that song where she talks backward in the chorus?


I wish we were doing whatever she was telling us to do.


So second expert, somebody named Dr Paul King, who is a child psychologist who treats children with drug problems.


One of his quotes, you're going to think that I'm making this up OK, young people in our treatment program recovering from drug problems. We do ask them to give up heavy metal for at least a year so they're not, again, overtaken by feelings of resentment, hate and the urge to party.


That's a real quote. I can't believe that. I can't believe it's like the dilo like good for like the cartoon evil dad in the Twisted Sister video.




You're the party that is funnier than any attempted parody of this.


Could be too serious. This is why, you know, you realize that a lot of the good SNL sketches are people just sort of repeating them.


But also, it's so funny that someone who works with youths is like the urge to party comes externally into the canal and it comes from the records they're listening to. And it's like, I really think that heavy metal, like disco, the point is not the content so much as like the place of emotional release that you got to watch Snyder talked about.


Yes. And I mean, if you want measured fact based testimony, you called the Snyder, OK, if you want someone who got up there and just wing it, you call an expert witness.


That's a very good way of putting it.


So, OK, I got kind of obsessed with this question and I went down like a little bit of a research rabbit hole because the fundamental question at the heart of these episodes and this hearing and this moral panic is, does music affect kids?


So I tried to look into this and there's a sort of a miniature little you're wrong about with a two layer debunking.


You should work at Shapin someday.


The first layer is that Tipper Gore is actually right about heavy metal. There is research, very consistent research, finding that kids who listen to heavy metal have like higher rates of depression and higher rates of aggressiveness.


Well, yeah, but can we say that the heavy metal is causing these things, which is the thing? Yeah.


So it's a very it's a very consistent correlation. There's been a couple of attempts to find causality. So there's one study where they took sort of like a random sample of people and then half of them they played classical music for and then the other half they played heavy metal music for. And they would give them these sort of personality tests. And the kids who heard heavy metal were like higher in aggressiveness and had worse ideas about gender after listening to heavy metal regularly.


You know, this is music that I think is appealing. If you have, like, some anger to deal with, like if you had, which all of us do to some extent. And if you just want to sort of be in your angry place or in your place of of aggression or release of those things, then like, yeah, I do think it's that music is going to help you be in that place.


Yeah, there is a real thing. Called the amplification effect, where if you're feeling sad and then you listen to sad music to try to sort of alleviate your sadness, like oftentimes people use the emotional content of music after they're feeling the emotion. It doesn't cause the emotion. Right. Like you listen to angry music when you're already angry and then afterwards you feel like you've had this, like, vicarious thrill.


Yeah, the blues famously are not a cause of sadness. Yes.


But among certain kids, that can actually amplify the feeling and keep them from getting out of it and can actually be a way of sort of celebrating these negative emotions.


You can use music and other forms of entertainment to sort of fester a little bit, or you can find lyrics that that validate this worldview or that expand upon it.


Yeah, but then what's very interesting about this is that Tipper Gore is right about heavy metal and other forms of music that are sort of aggressive. But she's wrong, dead wrong about lyrics.




So one of the most interesting things about that study where they compared classical music to heavy metal, they didn't just compare classical music to heavy metal, they compared classical music to normal heavy metal to Christian heavy metal, which has like super normy lyrics.




It's like growling about the Bible. And the same thing happened. The kids got more aggressive. They had worse ideas about gender. And the Bible famously has great ideas about gender.


I know it's weird, but so this is kind of obvious. But the way that music affects you is how it feels. It's not about the explicit lyrics of the songs. Right.


So one of the really interesting musicology articles that I read said that one of the most dangerous songs for this sort of amplification effect is something like All by myself or everybody hurts these songs that are about breakups, that are about romantic rejection, which is the number one precipitating cause of suicide, especially for teenagers, that it's a way of just feeling like no one's ever going to love me again.


I'm ugly. I'm not worth loving. These are ideas that people really wallow in.


When I was young, I never needed anyone.


Yes, but these songs really can sort of feed into people's existing predispositions to depression or predispositions to catastrophes, something that's happening to them.


But none of those songs contain You Should Kill Yourself lyrics. Right. And also, if you believe in this effect.




Like if you think that this is the way that music affects us, then you have to ban all of the sad songs. You have to balance all of the heavy metal, regardless of its actual content, which is deranged.


And then you just end up in the musical world of the patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which famously was great for them. Yeah. And also, like, it's not even a new music thing because like from the time that we have been able to record music on discs, we have been recording things to make us feel sad. Yes. Or to allow us to sort of dig deeper into feeling sad. Yes, it's complicated because we're getting technology involved.


But I think that, like, feeling sad is a human right.


And also writing a song about a bad breakup and how you felt afterwards is also a human right, like all by myself is a jam. That's a great song.


Like I'm not comfortable banning probably the majority of music, like jazz has the potential to make someone sad. I mean, we have to throw away all any man at that.


Yeah. And like, I don't want to live in a world of Aimee Mann was wrong that I don't want to be right.


But it's just a weird thing that it's like Tipper never thought through the implications of the work that she is doing. Right. That if she actually believes what she's saying that's causing teen pregnancy and causing violence, it's causing sad moods, etc., then it's like, Tipper, we got to shut down all the music.




And just and I feel as if that comes down to this place of like, well, you know, yes, that's true. But we're going to go ahead and try and respect heavy metal because I don't like it. Yes.


I also think that so many of our political beliefs are just trying to backfill our aesthetic judgments.


Yeah, you listen to a Venom's song or Motley Crue song and you're like, this fucking sucks. And then you have to build this whole world view about like, no, no, it doesn't just suck because that's my preference for music. Yeah, it's oh, it's bad for the kids and it's bad lyrics and it's harming everybody and it's demonic and it's like, no, you just don't like it.


It's fine. Yeah.


And like, newsflash, your kids don't like your stupid music, you don't see them trying to get it banned.


The other nail in the coffin of Tipper's argument about how music lyrics are bad is there's actually very comprehensive literature that indicates that no one listens to the lyrics of songs. Yeah, so like, it's a really good study from nineteen eighty four where they asked kids about their favorite song like Name your three favorite songs. Thirty seven percent of the kids could not say what their favorite song is about.


People don't know what people are saying in music.


The only reason I know what my favorite songs are about is because they're all about being cheated on by Lindsey Buckingham.


There's a really good part of the article where they're talking about sort of asking kids like what is your what is your song about? And all of them just repeat the title of it. So they're like, what is like a virgin about? And the kids are like, it's about a virgin, OK?


They asked the kids what Stairway to Heaven is about. And one of them says it's about going to heaven through a stairway. And the stairway has problems along the way. And that's why the song is so line, because if it were a functioning stairway, it would be short and to be fair, I have no idea what this is about. So, like, maybe it's about that.


It's about a bustle in the hedgerow. There's also there's actually interviews from the 80s where they ask kids about Satanism like kids views on Satanism and kids use on heavy metal. The kids are saying much more sophisticated things about Satanism than any of the adults are where the kids are like, well, it's obviously an expectation. Part of it is to sell records.


And what they're really talking about is a connection with sort of like the other worldly and the occult and sort of like the afterlife. They're not really talking literally about Satan. And so I'm not meaning from the song. It's like, can some adults please repeat some of this guys?


Yeah, I think the problem with the way that adults speculate about teenagers is that, like, I think adults really tend to project all the elements of themselves that like they remember from when they were young and all the things that make them cringe about who they used to be and who they still are. And they just like they don't see the teenager. They see just this ball of their own insecurities. And they just assume they're talking about someone who's, like, really dumb and not all and just has nothing going on mentally and really like the kids are obviously most of the time better at talking about their own lives because they're the ones living them and they're human beings.




So are you ready for the aftermath? Yeah, I am. This is the this is the epilogue. I'm feeling epilogue.


So six weeks after the hearing, the record industry basically caves. And in exchange for Tipper Gore holding off on any more press for one year, the record industry agrees to those silly little stickers that we all saw on albums in the nineteen nineties, and then we all ignored them forever.


Well, this is, this is what's very interesting is between nineteen eighty six and nineteen eighty nine, only forty nine albums. Get them. Oh really. Yeah.


Because every record company has a different standard for them. So like Bruce Springsteen gets one for one of his albums, the Captain and Tennille get one really.


The first album famously that comes out with an explicit warning sticker is by Serge Gainsbourg and all of the lyrics are in French.


I mean, that does make sense that he wrote really filthy stuff.


There's this weird period where, like, nobody is taking it seriously. But at the same time, what starts happening is exactly what Frank Zappa and everybody else predicted would happen.


So states start passing laws that kids have to show I.D. to buy records with the warning label on them and huge record chains.


So famously, Wal-Mart says that it won't sell any record with the sticker on it. Oh, man. This was the whole thing that Tipper Gore refused to reckon with during her entire campaign. I've seen a bunch of interviews with her where people ask her about this like, well, aren't you afraid that once you start labeling records, massive stores will stop selling them? And she's like, oh, we're not interested in that all we're concerned.


We just want there to be information for parents really interested in the idea, not any of its implications or consequences. Yes.


There's also a bunch of efforts like this starts in San Antonio, but a bunch of other cities pass straightforward censorship laws against live shows. Oh, Tipper even mentions this in her book. And she's like, oh, well, that doesn't count as censorship because it's not federal.


Well, OK. No one said it had to be federal.


Tipper And so the way that we get these, like much more widespread stickers on everything is because states start proposing laws that will criminalize any store that sells explicit records to kids.


Wow. South Carolina passes a law that establishes a one dollar tax on any explicit album.


And so after these laws passed, the legislature, the PMRC, to its credit, steps in and convinces the governors to veto these laws. Wow. Tipper Gore actually seems like this is off the rails now. This is not what we intended. And so she shows up at these legislative hearings and says, like, no, no, you should not be doing this. This is too far. This is not what we intended. Wow. She actually kind of tries to clean up the mess that she made.


Yes. Which people don't typically do like. I really like that.


But so the record industry basically says, OK, we're now going to start taking this seriously and actually labeling a much larger percentage of music, stop all the downloading.


This is also how we get the law in Florida under which the two live crew obscenity case is filed.


Oh, are we going to have an episode about that? Absolutely.


Tipper is conspicuously absent from the gangsta rap controversy of the nineteen nineties. The reason turns out to be in nineteen eighty eight. Al Gore runs for president in the primary. He doesn't make it, but he sort of now a presidential contender. And so apparently him and Tipper go to Hollywood to get. Money from like big entertainment rich people who are going to fund their campaign and nobody wants to give them donations because she led this big crusade.


Who would have foreseen that? Exactly.


So the sort of the conspiracy theory explanation of this is the reason why Tipper dropped all of this and quietly resigned from the PMRC is that this just wasn't palatable to her husband's political ambitions.


I feel as if this is something that initially made sense, as something for her to pursue because it seemed politically safe enough for a senator's wife. So it's interesting that choosing the like, mathematically most safe thing ended up being something really alienating and damaging.


I think a big reason is just that it became so associated with the religious right. Eventually, I think that it sort of wasn't in nineteen eighty five when she took it up, but it got so bad and there were so many doubts about this, led by like the worst people that it's like who's this Democratic lady who basically started all of this.


Like she's the one who bought the Mogwai. Yes, it was. There's also a weird thing where it looks bad for Al Gore that, like his wife did stuff. Yikes.


This is a line from the New Republic in the early 90s.


Having a wife who has made herself the surgeon general of rock and roll makes Al Gore a faintly ridiculous figure in some subtle and no doubt deplorable way it understands him. But so it's seen as like emasculating that he had like an ambitious wife.


She's like kept off the campaign trail in 92. Like she never really recovered from this.


We always talk about how everyone hated Hillary, but we never talk about how everyone hated Tipper Gore.


Yeah, and it's funny because, like, on the one hand, Hillary Clinton, to my knowledge, never, like, waged a facile culture war against Prince. I don't know, maybe like if the public hadn't been so poisonously obsessed with either of them or the role they play, they could have done less ridiculous and highly scrutinized things and everyone would have been happier.


That's the thing I like. I fundamentally disagree with what she did. And like I think that the book is bad and I think that this had measurable negative effects on the country. But also it does seem weird that, like other people have done much worse things and are like still around.


I just can't get over the fact that, like, she was given this very strict a small space within which it was considered appropriate and non emasculating for her to try and work politically. And she actually did that. And then that still was.


What's interesting to me is in a lot of the historiography around the PMRC, it's seen as sort of a joke, right? It's all these Washington wives.


They're using their Rolodexes, but like it was an extremely effective political campaign, like they got exactly what they wanted to effective.


Clearly, yes. In less than six months, they completely transformed the way the record industry worked and the way that we regulated music, like they opened a door to a completely different way of legislating around artistic expression.




I mean, it really shows that if you stop women from playing real roles in society, we'll use all our pent up energy to do something kind of unnecessary. And that's a pretty good lesson, huh?


So that's it. That was Tipper. That was porn rock.


All right. Well, gee, Tipper, I guess I wish you could have done something less silly, which I feel is if you would have preferred yourself. Yes.


And, you know, all the stuff that she does now is like homelessness and mental illness and stuff. So. And no one gives a shit. I know. Nobody notices anymore.


Yeah, well, I guess I learned that the Snider is very good at whatever skill set you need to give testimony before the Senate.


And I am a better person for knowing that the only thing that I learned is that the Rocky Mountains are beautiful this time of year where you go to.