April 25, 2010

Music, Video Games and Rights

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“Can call all you want, But there’s no one home, You’re not gonna reach my telephone! ‘Cause I’m out in the club, And I’m sippin’ that bubb, And you’re not gonna reach my telephone”!

I’m sure most of us have heard Lady Gaga’s newest song Telephone but why is it creating such controversy? There are far more provocative and explicit songs than Gaga’s hit. This, however, is nothing new and artists have been dealing with the constraints of censorship for decades, Gaga is just the industry’s newest dissenter. While we can all buy explicit labeled albums, Gaga’s explicit album has not been offered to everyone who desire’s this form of creativity.

Gaga’s website is filled with discontented music enthusiasts who want the uncensored version of her album. One Gaga fan states that “the government has already taken away the right to gay marriage and now free speech? What is going on???!!! Albums are meant to be heard and listened to in their entirety, not be put on the back burner, because it might offend someone”. After purchasing several, supposedly uncensored copies of the album, some still cannot locate a totally uncut version. http://www.ladygaga.com/forum/default.aspx?cid=594&tid=368503&cmid=2346450 Gaga’s videos have also been cut and taken off the air in Australia. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/lady-gaga-video-censored/story-e6freq7x-1225699225754. As a human rights activist, I can’t help but find this a gross violation of our first amendment rights. We are all entitled to listen to music which satisfies even our most impish side.

The baby faced John Mayer has even sparked debate with his song “who said I can’t get stoned”. Some are demanding a “clean” version while others love the controversial lyrics. Mayer tells PopEater.com, “it’s not a dirty word. It’s not a curse word. It’s a presentation of an idea that makes people think a little harder about what they’re listening to, which I don’t think is the worst thing in the world.”

The fangs of censorship are also in the sale of violent video games. The Supreme Court announced that it will hear Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association in the fall involving the sale and rental of graphic video games to minors. “The high court‘s action Monday was surprising, given that justices just last week voted 8-1 to strike down a federal law that banned videos showing animal cruelty”. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the law violated minors’ constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100426/ap_on_bi_ge/us_supreme_court_violent_video_games

Our founding fathers granted first amendment rights to prevent the type of constraints that infringe on an individual’s life. While some censorship is necessary to protect the children of our country, there is a point when the line must be drawn. We deserve a choice in the type of music we listen to or the type of video games we play. How much is too much censorship when it comes to the expression of creativity?

Original Author: Sara Furguson