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Random Things of The '80s Rock Legend Dee Snider Sounded Off Against Censorship In A Speech To Congress

  • Snider Corrected A Committee Member On A Supreme Court Ruling on Random Things of The '80s Rock Legend Dee Snider Sounded Off Against Censorship In A Speech To Congress

    (#9) Snider Corrected A Committee Member On A Supreme Court Ruling

    During Snider's testimony, Senator Ernest Hollings from South Carolina asked him about different perceptions of obscenity and vulgarity. He read part of a Supreme Court verdict in the Pacifica Case involving the Federal Communications Commission (famous for the role George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" played in it). In the case, the Supreme Court ruled that "Patently offensive, indecent material presented over the airwaves confronts the citizen not only in public, but also in the privacy of the home. The individual's right to be left alone, plainly outweighs the first amendment rights of an intruder."

    Snider wasn't phased and pointed out he was "talking about the airwaves as opposed to a person going with their money to purchase an album to play in their and room, in their home, on their own time. The airwaves are something different." 

    Frank Zappa used a similar line of thought in his testimony, telling the committee people had a choice when it came to the music they brought into their homes. Zappa's dismissive and mocking tone in his testimony wasn't well-received by Senator Slade Gorton of Washington State, who responded:

    I found your statement to be boorish, incredibly and insensitively insulting to the people that were here previously; that you could manage to give the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States a bad name, if I felt that you had the slightest understanding of it, which I do not. You do not have the slightest understanding of the difference between Government action and private action, and you have certainly destroyed any case you might otherwise have had with this Senator.

  • Snider Made It Clear That He Worked Hard And He Shouldn't Be Punished For It on Random Things of The '80s Rock Legend Dee Snider Sounded Off Against Censorship In A Speech To Congress

    (#12) Snider Made It Clear That He Worked Hard And He Shouldn't Be Punished For It

    Dee Snider didn't hold back when it came to being honest with the committee. He told them he believed in his music and that he was an entertainer, just like actors and others. Snider was out to have fun, not to corrupt his audiences. He thought rock bands had a bad reputation, but he also believed wasn't part of the problem; he was working to fight sexism and other negative aspects of the music industry. 

    In the end, Snider's only recommendation for change in the music industry involved some sort of return policy that parents could use to return material they deemed inappropriate. Snider lost that battle, however, when the RIAA caved and agreed to start labeling albums in November 1985.  In 1990, the "Parental Advisory" label became standardized.

     

  • The PMRC's "Filthy 15" Demonstrated Problematic Music on Random Things of The '80s Rock Legend Dee Snider Sounded Off Against Censorship In A Speech To Congress

    (#5) The PMRC's "Filthy 15" Demonstrated Problematic Music

    The song that kicked off Tipper Gore's music crusade was Prince's "Darling Nikki" from the album Purple Rain. Gore's 11-year-old daughter was listening to the song when Gore heard lyrics that referred to masturbation.

    By the time the PMRC appeared before Congress in 1985, they had selected a list of songs dubbed the "Filthy 15," which the group said demonstrated how dangerous music could be. Songs on the list included "Darling Nikki" as well as Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," Madonna's "Dress You Up," Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop," Venom's "Possessed," and others. 

    Overall, the list was full of songs the group thought promoted violence, sex, promiscuity, the occult, or drug and alcohol abuse. The group wanted a rating system to reflect this by placing a "D/A" for drugs and alcohol, "O" for occult, "S" for sex, and "V" for violence on albums to warn about problematic lyrics. 

  • Snider Pointed Out That

    (#7) Snider Pointed Out That "We're Not Gonna Take It" Was Used As Part Of A United Way Campaign

    The song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister was used for a United Way advertisement in 1985, a promotion that seemed to counter ideas that the song was inherently inappropriate. United Way was creating a program called "Changing American Family," that was divided into different segments of family development.

    The nonprofit wanted to use snippets of the song and the video because they believed, "The clips from the Twisted Sister video would be used to introduce the teenagers segment in the program. We hope that the video's introduction with the demanding father will be a light-hearted way of talking about communication with teenagers."

  • Snider Rejected The Idea That Profanity And Christianity Were Mutually Exclusive on Random Things of The '80s Rock Legend Dee Snider Sounded Off Against Censorship In A Speech To Congress

    (#11) Snider Rejected The Idea That Profanity And Christianity Were Mutually Exclusive

    Snider identified himself as a Christian when he was speaking to Congress, a fact the committee members jumped on to try to discredit him. Snider's band, Twisted Sister, had a fan group that went by the name "SMF Fans of Twisted Sister." Senator Gore asked Snider about the group and what the acronym SMF meant. Snider replied that it stood for "Sick Mother F*cking" Fans of Twisted Sister, to which Senator Gore replied with a question about whether or not that group was Christian.

    Snider's response was simply "I do not believe profanity has anything to do with Christianity, thank you." Senator Gore went on to say "It is just an interesting choice. I was getting the impression from your presentation that you were a very wholesome kind of performer, and that is an interesting title for your fan club." 

    The Senator's pettiness didn't stop there. Later in his testimony, Snider was accused of "attacking" Tipper Gore.

  • Dee Snider Wasn't The First Choice To Testify on Random Things of The '80s Rock Legend Dee Snider Sounded Off Against Censorship In A Speech To Congress

    (#10) Dee Snider Wasn't The First Choice To Testify

    Dee Snider later stated he wasn't the ideal candidate to testify in front of Congress - he knew it and they knew it - which is why they originally wanted Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil. Snider thought this was because "Vince is not very articulate. He actually is a life-styler, so he probably would have been half in the bag going in there. They would have smacked him around, because he's incapable of fighting at the level. As far as going and having an intellectual debate on something, he'd be pretty defenseless."

    Other music industry professionals, aside from Frank Zappa and John Denver, included the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) president Stanley Gortikov and radio DJ Cerphe Colwell, who had been invited by Zappa to appear.

     

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About This Tool

For rock fans, Dee Snider, the lead singer of Twisted Sister, is definitely one of the most well-known legends. His famous song "We're Not Gonna Take It" was Trump's campaign song during the 2016 U.S. election. He not only achieved great commercial success but also made great contributions to the development of rock music. In the 1980s, PMRC began to the mandatory requirement to promote music censorship and grading, which was strongly opposed by many rock musicians.

As a member of the hearing, Dee Snider publicly expressed his opposition to censorship, his speech shocked everyone, and the video of this hearing is still available online. The random tool lists 13 details about his attitude and speech to fight against censorship.

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