Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Seriously? - To censor or not to censor

That, is the question I pose to you today, my friends.

Wordless Wednesday is below this post, by the way.

But, moving on...When I listen to my car radio, I flip radio stations around a lot, so I never even know what station I'm listening to, until something catches my attention. Well, driving in this morning one of my currently favorite songs came on the radio. "Rockstar" by Nickelback. If you are unfamiliar with the song, here's the "uncensored" version of the video here:

So, here's the thing. Listening to it on the radio this morning, the word "drugs" or "drug" were edited out of the song. So was the word "asshole" but okay, I get that one. But I'm curious about the choice to edit the word drugs/drug out, when the context of the song first of all makes it obvious what it is that they're talking about, and second, isn't so much glorifying the drugs as it is making fun of the whole "Rockstar" image. Or maybe I'm wrong in my perception of the song. I know the first time I hear it, I loved it for it's implied irony, but I can see how it could be taken literally as well. Still, when did the word "drugs" become an obscene word that needed to be "bleeped" out, in a song that contains lyrics such as "we'll all stay skinny cuz we just won't eat" and "join the mile high club at thirty seven thousand feet". Never mind that the words "gonna pop my pills from a pez dispenser" were left intact. Where do we draw the line? This from the same radio station that plays "U + Ur Hand" by Pink. I'm just saying.

It's not that I'm advocating drug use, or songs that promote it (although, I'm still not sure that's what this song is doing), but I'm just curious why the choice was made to censor those particular words in this particular song. I've actually heard this song censored on other radio stations as well, one of which also plays songs such as Pink's or other even more explicit lyrics. But when the lyrics are sexual in nature, for some reason, the censorship doesn't seem as important. In fact, I've heard conversations by the D.J.s on both these radio stations that are a whole lot more offensive than the lyrics to the Nickelback song. So, why this choice to censor?

I'm just curious to hear from others if you've noticed the same thing with this, or any other songs on your local radio stations? I'm pretty sure MTV also censors the video, but since I can't remember the last time I actually saw a music video on MTV, don't quote me on that. But the images? Such as the one of the girl in the bathtub? NOT censored.

So, take a look at the lyrics below, in red are the words omitted from the censored version, and then, let me know what you think. I will be back to check comments throughout the day, because I want in on this discussion, so come back and see what people have to say if you're curious:

I'm through with standing in line
To clubs we'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth
And I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out
Quite the way I want it to be
(Tell me what you want)
I want a brand new house
On an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough
For ten plus me
(So what you need?)
I'll need a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club
At thirty-seven thousand feet
(Been there, done that)
I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between Cher andJames Dean is fine for me
(So how you gonna do it?)
I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name
'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny
With her bleach blond hair
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes
Sign a couple autographs
So I can eat my meals for free
(I'll have the quesadilla, on the house)
I'm gonna dress my ass
With the latest fashion
Get a front door key to the Playboy mansion
Gonna date a centerfold that loves to
Blow my money for me
(So how you gonna do it?)
I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name
And we'll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary and today's who's who
They'll get you anything with that evil smile
Everybody's got a drug dealer on speed dial
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
I'm gonna sing those songs
That offend the censors (Karina's Note - Ironic?)
Gonna pop my pills from a pez dispenser
I'll get washed-up singers writing all my songs
Lip sync em every night so I don't get 'em wrong
And we'll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary and today's who's who
They'll get you anything with that evil smile
Everybody's got a drug dealer on speed dial
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar



qualcosa di bello said...

so i am not the only one this has been driving crazy?!?! i totally agree. those who have decided to censor obviously have missed the whole point of the song & they are quite random in choice. (disclaimer...i do not advocate drug use in this sense) "drug" is a rather innocuous word in our present culture, especially when you consider some of the other connotations in this song. could this be a radio station sponsor-driven thing? that is my best guess...

Junebug said...

I don't see anything wrong with these lyrics since they are in context. Maybe it is illegal for the radio station to allow the word "drug" in songs according to their FCC license. By the way, my kids just hate Nickelback songs. They are 24 and 20 year old girls. I think it is because the radio stations incessantly play their songs to death. They have something funny to say about the singer but I can't remember what it is right now. I'll ask them.

Jill said...

i think it is very tongue in cheek and i am repulsed by the lyric about skinny cuz we dont eat. it makes me mad every time. girls dont need another reference to being skinny and popular. i still sing along.. shrug!

Jennifer said...

This is very interesting, because I just "self-censored" this song when it came on (from a mix CD I'd made) in the car with my three young children listening. They are ages 2, 4, and 7 and as we were all rocking out to the song in the minivan, I purposely turned down the volume during the drug references. However, that was my choice to do so based on my kids' very young ages and me not wanting to explain anything -- or have "drugs" in their minds, yet. Very different, imo, from a radio station censoring -- which really rubs me the wrong way.

(And I'm with lil mouse on the "skinny cause we just won't eat" lyric. I'd say that is more damaging to young girls than hearing the word "ass". *eye roll*)

Interesting post!

Anonymous said...

"we'll all stay skinny cuz we just won't eat"
The most dangerous line in the song.
I think of my friend Lisa who died of the effects of anorexia.
All because she wanted to be popular and being thin was going to do it for her.
I would like to hear this song being sung, but I don't want to download it and have the author make anything on the sale.
Take care,

Rebecca said...

Yea, radio just frustrates me and then pisses me off - so I mostly stick with being a talk radio junky when I'm in my car...

Karina said...

Qualcosa, glad to see that I'm not alone in this. Exactly what you said, about them missing the point of the song is what gets to me. I feel like the song is almost a parody of the "rock star" life.

Junebug, I stopped listening to the radio for a VERY long time because I'd get sick of songs and artists due to overplay, so I understand why your daughters would be sick of Nickelback. About the lead singer, he was just recently arrested for a DUI, so obviously he's living more of the rockstar life than he should be...I tend to be able to separate artist from art though, so if I like a song, I try not to focus on the "singer"...thus why I actually like Brittney's new song (shh, don't tell anyone).

Lil Mouse, I think that's the most offensive lyric in the song too, and it really bothers me that they don't censor that, but censor the other stuff...censor the whole damn song then.

Jennifer, I don't blame you for self-censoring this song, and in fact, if I had young kids, I wouldn't even allow the radio to be played AT ALL when they're in the car, because some of the songs, and some of the dj's are just crude and inappropriate. So, I'm with protecting the kids, I'm more annoyed with WHAT it is that radio stations feel is acceptable to let slide, and what isn't.

Frances, I see your point about not wanting to give them royalties. Although, again, I still feel the song is more of a "parody" then how the authors actually feel. But I can see how an influential girl would think otherwise too. However, if you do want to hear it, watching the youtube video won't earn them any royalties.

Frigga, Yeah, I stopped listening to the radio for a long long time (years) and have just recently started again, but the way I've been annoyed with it lately, I'm moving back to my mp3 player pretty soon.

Junebug said...

I would like to qualify what I said. qualify? well, anyway, I don't like the lyrics at all. I think they are offensive but it is a song about wanting to be a rockstar and I guess that is their lifestyle.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

It's very obvious the song is a parody of the rock star lifestyle. And I also agree with Junebug that the station's sponsors likely dictate the content of the station on everyone's behalf. As far as censorship goes, I'm extremely liberal in my views about that. All censorship should exist in the hands of the consumer. If you don't like what you're hearing, turn it off. If there are no listeners, the station won't play it anymore. A simple market-economy concept that seems to elude the people that most espouse the US system - American business.

Cory said...

I think that the radio stations are just terrified of FCC fines.

That's why I like downloading my music and watching cable. I like my media as it was originally intended ;-)

the sassy corner said...

I haven't heard "drugs" sensored, I don't think on the radio during this song; however, watching the video on VH1, I did notice they censored "drugs" and "Drug dealer." "ass" was not censored, but I believe "a-hole" was. Anyway, I thought it was crazy that "drug dealer" was censored because you totally know what they are talking about. I never thought about the "stay skinny cuz we just won't eat" line being offensive, but I don't know anyone that has had that problem either. I've always taken the song as a parody; Nickelback making fun of all the cliches of Hollywood.