Lineage # 1: Bouncing Souls’ “P.M.R.C.” → Frank Zappa’s “Porn Wars” → Danzig’s “Mother” → Ramones’ “Censorshit” 

“Porn Wars” appears on Frank Zappa’s 1985 record Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers of Prevention, an entire album created in response to the PMRC.  The song is 12 minutes and 5 seconds of audio recordings from the senate hearing on the PMRC, that Zappa himself was present at and testified at, edited and clipped together with other audio.  A very unconventional track, its sole purpose is to mock the PMRC and those who support it.  Two different records clipped together that essentially summarize the entire content of the song are: “‘The voluntary labeling is NOT censorship…’ ‘Bend up and smell my anal vapor!’”  Little needs to be said about Zappa’s opinion towards the PMRC. 

“Mother” appears on Danzigs’ self-titled debut released in 1988.  This song is a taunt towards parents who try to protect their kids from explicit content, and an appeal to their kids to “show a sheltered person the harsh realities of life”, an attitude reflected in the Soul’s belief that “a constricted kid will always be a bedwetter” (Genius).   “Mother, can you keep them in the dark for life?” This song makes the argument that censorship does not actually accomplish it’s goal of decreasing access to content. Danzig decided to make the music video for this song filled with the same type of explicit content that the PMRC was trying to sensor: horror movie influenced shadowy cinematography, a passage from a famous Christian allegory (Danzig’s music features a lot of Christianity vs. Satanism imagery and themes), and a sacrifice of a chicken (no real chickens were harmed) in which the blood is smeared in the shape of an upside down cross on the bare stomach of a young blonde woman, assumed by many to represent Tipper Gore herself (Kerrang).  


“Censorshit” appears on the Ramones’ 1992 album Mondo Bizarro. This song is a very direct stand against the PMRC.  It starts out with a line criticizing the “Tipper stickers” placed on albums that were decided to be explicit, saying that censorship wont stop art from being made: “Tipper, what’s that sticker sticking on my CD, Is that some kind of warning to protect me”.  The Ramones obviously do not believe that this warning does any sort of protecting anyone.  Continuing on: “Freedom of choice needs a strong, strong voice You can stamp out the source, but you can’t stop creative thoughts”.  The American perspective is prominent throughout the song, with the Ramones referencing specific issues that the government should be worrying about rather than censoring music: “Ah Tipper come on, it’s just a smokescreen for the real problems, S&L deficit, the homeless, the environment”.  This calls out the PMRC’s proposed censorship as bullshit, calling on members to “take a good look at [their] own lives before [they] go preaching to me [their] definition of obscenity”.  Continuing on the argument that censorship is nonsense and the government has much larger issues it should be focused on: “The irony it seems… It’s un-American policy Ah, we’ve come so far but still only to find People like you with ignorant minds”.  The Ramones are placing the instance of the PMRC in a wider context of censorship, a fundamentally un-American practice.  

Lineage # 2: Bouncing Souls’ “P.M.R.C.” → Victims Family’s “God, Jerry And The PMRC” → Saturday’s Headliners’ “P.M.R.C.” → Pistol Grip’s “Fuck the PMRC” → 


Victims Family recorded “God, Jerry And The PMRC” (1995) 4 years after the Souls first recorded Souls’ P.M.R.C.. A pure embodiment of the mocking attitude seen in many songs protesting the PMRC, the entire 45 second tune is vocalized in a very goofy manner, setting the tone that the entity they are criticizing is not even worthy or a serious, professionally mannered argument: the entire premise that the PMRC is based on is nothing but a joke.  The lyrics are spoken from the perspective of one of the founding members of the PMRC, summarizing the reasons that they started in a tone that makes them sound ridiculous: “We’ve got to rid this country of the / Evil influence of rock ‘n’ roll perverts / In order to preserve the sanctity of this / Grand and glorious nation that god has / Given us to exploit”  This spiteful portrayal of the beliefs espoused by the PMRC undermine the institution as a whole, successfully painting all of its members as clowns in less than a minute.  By contrasting the PMRC’s belief that rock music is a danger to society with their anthropocentric view that the Earth is ours to extract all we can from it crafts the argument that censorship is an especially arbitrary endeavor when considered in the face of other issues going on in the world: the founders of the PMRC are concerned about the wrong problems.  The song illustrates the hypocrisy of the Washington Wives in striking up alarm over rock music while they have the power to influence real issues in society due to their high social standing and connections to Washington D.C..

As raw and choppy as the song seems upon first listen, the lyrics and their delivery are actually an intricately crafted argument that cleverly demonstrates the absurdity of the belief that censorship is what is needed to preserve the goodness of our society, not stopping the exploitation of the environment that we are lucky enough to have as our home.  

Nashville Straight-Edge hardcore band Saturday’s Headliners’ “P.M.R.C.” (2020) is an unshackled affront to the PMRC.  The song starts off with a sample of commentary from someone characterizing the true motives behind the PMRC: “Well what were seeing here is… a false controversy, it’s rap music and rock music, it’s being cast as a willy-horse-poltergeist type figure in order to advance the agenda of the religious right backers of Tipper Gore’s organization”.  

Saturday’s Headliners’ waste no time getting into the steadily turbulent chord progression that you can hardly resist the urge to pick up pennies to.  Through an approach of pure mockery, the song starts off with the lyrics: “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck / Am I pissing you off?”  Again we see the use of sarcasm to undermine the legitimacy of the institution of the PMRC.  

Continuing in a more antagonistic manner, the song chants a personal provocation at Tipper Gore: “Ms. Gore / I wanna see some fucking gore”, effectively taunting the founding member of the PMRC.  

Ending the song with a sarcastic taunt is another audio sample of a man saying: “If you got kids out there I’m gonna own them, they’re gonna be my kids”, effectively highlighting the trivialness of the concerns of the PMRC.  This line touches on the core argument that you cannot shield children from “inappropriate” things in the world, they are going to learn sooner or later and it’s best to instill them with the tools to navigate our society rather than trying to coddle them in a bubble outside of reality.  

Pistol Grip takes this practice of using explicit content in music as a means to decry censorship to a whole new level through their song “Fuck the PMRC” (2022).  Starting with just the title, there is no room for interpreting an ounce of sympathy towards what the PMRC stands for; it is uncompromising and fed up.  The lyrics escalate this aggressively direct condemnation.  An upbeat fast-paced hook reminiscent of classic skate punk bands like Teenage Bottlerocket and Stiff Little Fingers, the song starts off with a chorus of people singing “Fuck the PMRC!”  Augmenting this already aggressively direct condemnation, Pistol Grip uses violent and misogynistic terminology in reference to the women who founded the PMRC.  I won’t make any judgment regarding whether or not the end of denouncing censorship justifies Pistol Grip’s vulgar means, however there is a clear intensification of language to be seen throughout this lineage.  

“Fuck the PMRC” castigates the presumptuousness of the Washington Wives: “decisions to be made by almighty Tipper Gore”, mocking the self-importance held by these women to appoint themselves to police the morality of the media that society has access to, a common approach seen in protest songs that criticize the PMRC.  Calling for the disolvement of all of the efforts of the PMRC, the band chants “I don’t want to see the sticker anymore… and I don’t want the censors after me / It’s time now to set ourselves free”.  Pistol Grip is referring to the Parental Advisory sticker that the PMRC created to be put on records that are explicit.  This song expresses the commonly held belief that censorship is an oppressive force: freedom must include the freedom to make any kind of art you want.

“Fuck the PMRC” is contemptuous; it essential goes as far as to threaten Tipper Gore and Barbara Wyatt personally.  Setting aside any judgment of the violent rhetoric employed by the band in making their point, one must appreciate the way in which this song is a pure embodiment of everything the PMRC stood against, arguably one of the most potent forms of resisting censorship.  One last audience-participation style retort, Pistol Grip calls on us to belt the core mantra with them: “1 2 3 4 fuck Barbara Wyatt and Tipper Gore”.

Lineage #2 shows the continuation of artists mocking the PMRC to assert their view that censorship is a frivolous thing to worry about, especially relative to the real issues that exist in our society.  Blaming heavy metal or hip hop for things like violence and drug abuse rather than addressing the institutions that perpetuate these harmful cycles is a deceptive mechanism used to prevent real structural change by giving people boogeymen to chase after.  

Kate Engel