Arbitrary editing of music

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I heard something amusing on the radio the other day. The song was “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus, about a high school student who loves this girl secretly but knows she would never love him because, after all, he’s just a teenage dirtbag who listens to Iron Maiden. Surely you can agree that such a tool should not be loved by the prettiest girl in school.

The second verse goes like this:

Her boyfriend’s a d***
And he brings a gun to school
And he’d simply kick
My a** if he knew the truth.

What amused me was the way it was edited for the radio. The words “d***” and “a**” remained intact, but “gun” was bleeped out. The semi-swear words are OK, but anything even remotely suggesting the possibility of violence is not — even when, in context, the act of bringing a gun to school is described as being a BAD thing to do (i.e., if you do it, you’re a d***).

I remembered the song “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind from a few years back. A reference to oral sex survived the cut, but the words “crystal meth” were bleeped for radio and MTV.

This is consistent with the way radio and MTV arbitrarily and senselessly edit music aimed at young people. The reasoning seems to be this: Kids hear swearing all the time, and even if they take it up themselves, it’s not going to ruin them. Violence and drugs, however, WILL harm them, and so we must eliminate all references to such things. Look how concerned we are for young people!

Actually, they’re terrified of being blamed every time a kid O.D.’s on drugs or kills his classmates. They figure if they just bleep out the drug and gun references, they’re doing their part. It has a germ of a good idea to it, but it’s administered so blindly as to give us silly examples like the ones cited.

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