The song P.M.R.C. was first released by the Bouncing Souls on their 1991 7’ record, Ugly Bill, Oh Shit.  The title of this song is the acronym for the Parents Music Resource Center, a Committee formed in 1985 with the goal of preventing children from consuming explicit content in music.  The PMRC is responsible for the black and white “Parental Advisory” sticker that we see on explicit records, colloquially known as the “Tipper Sticker” after Tiper Gore, one of the founding members of the committee.  The committee pushed for the creation of a rating system for music like the rating system we use for movies, as well as other measures to effectively hide content they deemed obscene from children and even the more general public (Wikipedia).  This song is a direct response to this form of censorship. The song starts off with a chaotic, bass heavy riff over which the lead vocalist, Gregory Attonito, screams “Bullshit, don’t tell me bullshit”  8a few times ending with an almost harrowing last screech that leads into the brooding, overdriven main progression of the song.  “What’s the matter with kids today, There’s so much trouble let’s take that noise away, Or that’s what fucking Helms would say when he sees the kids aren’t acting the right way”.  The song starts off with a condescending rendition of the thought process of someone who is for censorship in the media.  Jesse Helms was a North Carolina senator who took lots of action to censor media he deemed inappropriate, successfully getting the NEA to place a 1 year ban forbidding art which “may be considered obscene… which, when taken as a whole, do not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” (  While Helms was not a member of the PMRC, he supported their mission by speaking out against the dangers of music.  The band paints this senators work as the work of a fool: by touting his point of view that music needs to be censored to fix the problems we see in our youth and responding to it it with the line “Or that’s what fucking Helms would say” condescendingly shoots down his point of view as idiotic.  Continuing on, “Helms looks at the music. But that’s not the problem, If a kid can’t handle a 2 Live Crew song it’s because society’s in the wrong” the Souls make clear the point they made in the lines before: Helms idea that violently inappropriate music is at the heart of the problems of the youth is simply wrong; if kids can’t “handle” music like that it is reflective of a larger issue in society, it is not simply an issue in the music.

In 1990, the year before this song was first released, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the American hip-hop group 2 Live Crew for their explicit lyrics.  There was an effort to get an obscenity ruling against their most successful record, As Nasty as They Wanna Be released in 1989, to which leader of the group, Luther Campbell “maintained that people should focus on issues relating to hunger and poverty rather than on the lyrical content of their music”, a sentiment that seems to fall in line with the Bouncing Souls’ message in this song (Wikipedia).  The obscenity ruling passed, and a retailer was actually arrested for selling a copy of the record to an undercover police officer after the ruling had gone through.  The “An old man is cussin’ and stompin’ at the way we live and the way we try, To do our best in our world but he doesn’t ask why”  The point that the Souls are making here is that their way of life is frowned upon by people who try to restrict them without ever taking the time to be curious about why they live the way that they do.  They want to censor music that deals with taboo or inappropriate subjects but never investigate why artists make that music in the first place.  These lines may be understood as reflective of Campbells response to the controversy surrounding his music: “A lot of people have gotten the impression that I’m this rude, sexual deviant or something… But contrary to what has been printed about me in the papers, I’m no moral threat to anybody.  I’m just a hard-working guy marketing a new product” (Wikipedia).  The obscenity ruling was eventually overturned, partially based on the argument that “the material that the county alleged was profane actually had important roots in African-American vernacular, games, and literary traditions and should be protected” (Wikipedia).  The people who pushed for this obscene ruling never cared to dig into the roots of the media, they just judged it from their outside perspective and frowned upon it without even understanding it.  1990 was the year that Parental Advisory stickers were created to be put on explicit records; one major retailer, WaxWorks, actually stopped selling any record that had this sticker on it.  While corporate record companies were formulating ways to censor music,  groups such as 2 Live Crew and N.W.A. were able to reach a high level of popularity because they were on independent labels.  As is often the case in America when a new sound of music emerges, there was a moral panic surrounding rap and metal music.  People thought that it would influence their kids and make them violent. The Bouncing Souls respond to this moral panic again in a bit of a condescending tone: “They hear rap or metal, they’re in a panic, If their kid doesn’t hear it he’s still a fucking maniac”.  Here the Souls are saying that people are the way that they are outside of the media they consume.  If a kid is going to be a violent criminal, they were going to be that way before they discovered metal music.  Censoring music won’t make the youth any more proper or well mannered, the only effect it could have is that of putting them in a bubble and making them soft: “Censorship won’t make him or her any better, A constricted kid will always be a bed-wetter”.