I've been writing articles with this headline for decades because censorship really pisses me off, especially when it involves Wal-Mart (or other huge retailers) selling co-called "clean" versions of music CDs to consumers. They've been doing this for more than a decade, so this isn't a new issue.
These so-called "clean" albums totally fuck with the concept of artistic freedom and I hope more people (and artists) will understand the concept of censorship and take action. Consumers should stop purchasing “clean” albums and artists should stop consenting to their production! (The movie industry with their stupid MPAA rating system is also to blame for much censorship, but that's an article for another day.)
When it comes to "clean" albums, most artists look the other way because apparently they rather make money by having Wal-Mart sell censored versions of their work than not to sell their work at all. Popular music group Green Day appears to be a rare exception to the rule and has basically told Wal-Mart to fuck off. Other artists should follow their lead.
"Wal-Mart's become the biggest retail outlet in the country, but they won't carry our record [21st Century Breakdown] because they wanted us to censor it," Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said in a recent interview published in the Washington Post and other media outlets.
"They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there," he said. "We just said no. We've never done it before. You feel like you're in 1953 or something."
Hopefully this recent controversy will only help Green Day sell more copies of 21st Century Breakdown, their latest album, which I recently downloaded from Zune Marketplace and listened to in its entirety. It happens to be a great album that I probably would never have known about had it not been for the censorship story.
Oddly enough, Wal-Mart sells "clean" CDs of rapper Eminem? They might as well just take a blank CD-ROM, stick it in an Eminem CD cover and put that up for sale. More profits for everyone involved! A "Clean" Eminem CD is an oxymoron, the equivalent of "clean" CDs for comedy greats George Carlin, Lewis Black or Cheech & Chong. All I can say is "no fucking way!" Thank God, if there is one, for Zune Marketplace, Napster, HBO, and others who offer uncensored material for people with discriminating tastes such as me.
As far as I am concerned, Wal-Mart will be (or has been) responsible for the ruination of America as we know it, so if you are a staunch supporter of fair labor practices, civil and human rights, and other freedoms, just say no and stop shopping there! Also, please support artists who oppose censorship of any kind!
On a related note, U.S. librarians are facing a growing number of complaints about the books on their shelves these days, according to a recent article distributed by United Press International (UPI).
Written complaints to public and school libraries seeking the removal or restriction of materials rose from 420 in 2007 to 513 in 2008, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported recently. The challenges led to 74 books being taken off shelves.
The newspaper said the Library Association of America recently issued its list of the 10 most-challenged books of last year. Among them was "The Kite Runner," a New York Times best-seller, and the teen drama series "Gossip Girl."
These book censorship stories remind me of when I was a teen growing up in Banaheim, California, in the 1970s when the Anaheim Union High School District school board became nationally famous for book banning. At that time, books we could not read in the classroom included the likes of "Sounder," "Catcher in the Rye," and almost anything written by Mark Twain.
Several months ago, I read an article about a Corona del Mar High School school teacher (in Orange County, California, of course) who was told he couldn't have drama students perform the play "Rent" because it evidently was too gay. According to several media sources, the school principal said she needed to review the script's inclusions of "prostitution and homosexuality." In lieu of "Rent," the drama teacher had the students perform "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," which certainly no one would find offensive.
My philosophy is that books are like the radio, TV, or Internet. If you don't like a book, don't read it. Don't like what you hear or see on the radio, TV, or Internet, change the "station" or turn it OFF. But please keep your paws off the on/off switches of my radio/TV/Internet and don't ban or censors books, plays, movies, CDs or other media in stores, schools or libraries! After all, the year is now 2009, not 1984!