Unnecessary Censorship

Mar 10, 2014 by

The radio has become better and better and censoring certain content these days.  Even though pop songs have only increased in the amount of inappropriate content they communicate, all it takes is a simple edit to the song to mute said content without detracting from the beat.  Yet is there a point where radio stations are blocking out too much without holding artists accountable?

One of the latest Katy Perry songs (“Dark Horse”) features a verse by Juicy J that is heavily censored on several radio stations.  Technically this song does not have curse words, but the word ‘steroids’ and even the name ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ are both edited out.  The reason for this is supposedly that while these words are not offensive in and of themselves, steroid usage for athletic competitions is controversial and Jeffrey Dahmer’s infamy as a serial killer/cannibal is also controversial.  Is this reasonable?  The exact context of these words is this:

“She’s a beast

I call her Karma (come back)

She eats your heart out

Like Jeffrey Dahmer

Be careful

Try not to lead her on

Shawty’s heart was on steroids

Cause her love was so strong”

First of all, I think the radio edit of this song goes a little overboard.  Steroids in and of themselves are not bad.  Some people take them for medical reasons.  The issue that they are trying to censor is the idea of cheating in athletic events, but that’s not what the context of this song is about.  Jeffrey Dahmer was a terrible human being, yes, but was he so bad that we must now refrain from repeating his name on the radio?  Has he become a “He Who Must Not Be Named?”

Second, there is also the issue of the effectiveness of censoring pop songs.  Radio stations can edit whatever they want, but it does not really protect us from hearing things we don’t want to hear.  We know what the original lyrics are anyways.  Muting words in songs just makes us wonder why the radio station thought it was necessary to mute it in the first place, leading us to think about it more than if it wasn’t muted at all. I think my point is illustrated best in this unnecessarily censored version of the Disney movie Frozen:




Bleeping out words does not make the content any more clean, in the case of this movie it just made it seem much more inappropriate.  If a radio station really wanted to clean up its content, it should not simply mute out words it does not want to broadcast.  Instead, it should ban the entire song from being played.  This way, not only will the content be clean, but the context as well.  Furthermore, artists who want their songs on the radio will be forced to actually clean up their act and produce clean content.  It may not be appropriate to compare a woman who loves strongly to a serial killer/cannibal.  Maybe instead of blocking names, radio stations should just not allow a song like that on their playlist.  Censoring certain words just gives artists permission to continue and increasingly include inappropriate content in their work.

A radio can block words like ‘steroids’ and ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ all it wants, but this does nothing to block out the context in which that word is used.  Therefore it is pointless and unreasonable to censor songs in such a way.



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