The 36th Anniversary Of Rock’s Biggest Censorship Battle And Dee Snider’s Defence

Rock and Roll and the artistic freedom in music was heavily threatened 36 years ago when The Parents Music Resource Center, also known as PMRC, wanted to ban songs and censor rock musicians. They claimed that mainstream rock and metal music shouldn’t be out there because it negatively influences kids and teenagers. Many people from the rock industry, such as Frank Zappa, John Denver, and Dee Snider, fought against censorship.

Dee Snider may have saved rock and roll during this dispute in 1985. He attended the hearing and successfully refuted the allegations against him and their industry. Snider entered the court in his classic look, with big hair and rock and roll outfit, which led many to think he wouldn’t be able to make a sensible argument. However, the rockstar surprised the courtroom when he answered every question sensibly, clearly, and refuted every accusation thrown at him.

What Was The PMRC Complaining About?

According to Mrs. Gore, the founder of PMRC, most rock, metal, and mainstream pop songs’ lyrics were not appropriate for children. They wanted to ban 15 songs created by Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, and Venom. Their problem was not only with rock and roll, as they also wanted to censor artists such as Madonna, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, and Sheena Easton.

They claimed that the lyrics, music videos, and marketed t-shirts of rock bands, specifically Twisted Sister, encourage children to familiarise themselves with Satanism, and therefore should be banned. The PMRC associated the band’s songs with sex, bondage, violence and claimed they are sexist and pornographic.

How Did Dee Snider Refute Each Claim?

Snider refuted every claim that targeted his or Twisted Sister’s work. He stated that they didn’t encourage violence with their song ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ while adding that the video was simply a remake of the Road Runner and Coyote cartoon played by human characters. The main character in the video would endure all pain and get up and be fine, just like the cartoon.

Another argument Snider refuted was the claim that the song ‘Under The Blade’ has sexual connotations and refers to bondage, and children shouldn’t be exposed to that. Dee explained why and how he composed the song stating that it was written for his guitar player Eddie Ojeda before he went to surgery. The lyrics were entirely about his experience of getting an operation and staying at the hospital.

Snider also outbursted and called PMRC a liar for claiming that they sold t-shirts with pornographic imagery like women in handcuffs of spread-eagled. The singer stated that they never sold such t-shirts and emphasized that they are against sexism in every area of their lives.

Snider wasn’t responsible for speaking about other bands or musicians, but he didn’t forget to say that music is objective, and its meaning is mainly about what lies in the listener’s head. Thus, he implicitly blamed the PMRC for having a dirty mind.

The final result of the hearing was that parents should be aware of what is in the album, and thus, the artists have to label their products with a ‘Parental Advisory’ tag if there’s any explicit lyric or content. Snider was also against this limitation because he believed that if a parent was concerned enough, they would be involved in the songs their children listen to and decide whether or not they should allow them.