Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tipper Gore was Friends with Frank Zappa's Wife?

Al Gore and Tipper Gore are getting divorced after 40 years. I know, who cares, right? But I was reading the AP's story on the subject and I came across the following extremely disconcerting bit of tragic nonsense:
Tipper Gore was a co-founder in 1985 of the Parents Music Resource Center, which pushed for parental warning labels on music with violent or sexually explicit lyrics. The group drew the ire of musicians ranging from Dee Snider of Twisted Sister to Frank Zappa, who said warning labels were unnecessary and a danger to freedom.

Tipper Gore later became friends with the late Zappa's wife, Gail, and played drums and sang backup on daughter Diva Zappa's album in 1999.
The Parents Music Resource Center was a group of women whose spouses were powerful members of congress, the executive branch, and etc. Through their spouses, they had a great deal of influence and power.

Tipper Gore and some of the other bluenosing biddies of the awful Parents Music Resource Center. They wanted to warn you about what you were putting in your ears.

And they didn't like that Prince used the word "grind" in one of his songs. They believed -- or claimed to believe -- that Prince singing about "grinding" was helping to cause the decay in the fabric of our American civilization. Ms. Gore also accused Ice-T of helping to increase the rates of violence against police officers in Los Angeles.

Because, you know, Ice-T was a rapper, and those rap songs encourage the kids to kill cops. It's something about the beat, I guess. It's hypnotic. The kids can't help it, when they hear those songs, they've got to go out and pop a cap in some poor cop's ass.

If not for those selfless women at the Parents Music Resource Center, Ice-T would have turned your children into gun-crazy cop killers.

Anyway. These busybody biddies managed to use their husbands' power to scare/coerce record labels into agreeing to "voluntarily" place warning labels on some of their records and tapes (this was slightly before CDs and mp3s). However, before the labels actually started appearing, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (!) held hearings to determine just how much rap and funk (and also, let's be fair, heavy metal-- they went after Twisted Sister and Judas Priest as well) were causing our children to become amoral murderers.

A few artists-- Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, John Denver (author of "Annie's Song," one of my all-time favorites and I don't care what you say about that), and Frank Zappa-- agreed to lower themselves enough to appear before the grandstanding asshole politicians who had nothing better to do with their time than hold such hearings.

Frank Zappa, lowering himself to appear before a bunch of grandstanding politicians who weren't even fit to kiss his ass.

As part of Frank Zappa's statement, he said:
These are my personal observations and opinions. They are addressed to the PMRC [Parents’ Music Resource Centre] as well as this committee. I speak on behalf of no group or professional organization.

The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years, dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal’s design.

It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment Issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC’s demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation.

No one has forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton into their homes. Thanks to the Constitution, they are free to buy other forms of music for their children. Apparently, they insist on purchasing the works of contemporary recording artists in order to support a personal illusion of aerobic sophistication. Ladies, please be advised: The $8.98 purchase price does not entitle you to a kiss on the foot from the composer or performer in exchange for a spin on the family Victrola. Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of “toilet training program” to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?

The ladies” shame must be shared by the bosses at the major labels who, through the RIAA, chose to bargain away the rights of composers, performers, and retailers in order to pass H.R. 2911, The Blank Tape Tax: A private tax levied by an industry on consumers for the benefit of a select group within that industry.
Frank Zappa was a hero.

After reading just that short piece of Mr. Zappa's statement, it's profoundly depressing to hear that his wife "became friends" with Ms. Gore after his death. After all, this is a woman who directly targeted her* husband for purely political reasons.

It's even worse to think that Ms. Gore played drums on something recorded by Mr. Zappa's daughter. What the hell kind of person would do that to her late father?

And what kind of woman would exploit the surviving relatives of a man she so casually and opportunistically tried to destroy?

*typo corrected

First PMRC pic source.
Frank Zappa pic source.
Ice-T pic source.


Iced Borscht said...

This is definitely disappointing. Never knew. But, at the same time, I can't say I'm shocked. People -- especially famous ones -- are notorious for being able to disappoint. The thing that makes it so galling is that the disappointment usually comes from the most unexpected and unlikely sources (e.g. the Zappa family).

The PRMC cha cha cha was a major flash point for me. I was fairly young at the time -- I had no clue what separated a liberal from a conservative -- but even then, my gut told me something was very wrong.

I'm never one to play the race card, but the PRMC sure seemed like a prime example of "liberal racism." Sure, Tipper and her country club friends took shots at whiteys like Zappa, WASP and Twisted Sister, but their most venomous attacks seemed geared at Ice-T, 2 Live Crew, etc.

I'm curious if these vacuous ladies are even aware that people might perceive them as racist cretins. I doubt it.

Anyway, yeah, super big flash point for me. When Bill Clinton announced that Al Gore was his running mate in 1992, I said "Well, see ya later, Bubba. Ain't gonna vote for you."

It's all quite disgusting. Conveniently, too, I noticed, the PRMC was mysteriously quiet and/or defunct during the 8 years of Bubba. I wonder if that was strategic, as in "Al, you've got to tell that woman to shut her yapper about this rap music hoo-ha-ha. We'll lose cred with the hard-left element of our supporters."

I seem to recall a dearth of any PRMC stories around election time in 1992 too. Hmmm. Kind of like now, when no mainstream press outlets talk about Joe Biden being an architect of the drug war. "Not interesting!" yells Thomas Friedman while waxing Paul Krugman's back.


Ricky Sprague said...

I think that, after awhile, politicians and their spouses come to believe that they are actually "fighting the good fight," and that what they want or believe is best for them is what's best for the country.

Because they're the anointed ones who make our laws. They know better.

But I expect better from rock stars and their families. Especially the family of Frank freaking Zappa.

shampoo said...

they went after a lot of different bands. the ones heavily covered in the media were the most popular ones.

but they also went after suicidal tendencies, for example. suicial tendencies got arrested by the secret service, at one point, by the secret service.

tipper (at least) also went after rpgers, particularly d and d players. this was not as well known, but it was denounced as "satanic".

I know dee snyder from twisted sister also testified. he claims they expected him to be really stupid. i'm not saying the man's a genius, I am saying stupid enough to try forrest gump's patience. but given the way twisted sister looked on their album cover...

ice t's cop killer cd came out in the 90s. it got called out partly because al had stock in warner, so I think that was revenge against tipper (by other politicans, not musicians).

however, I HAVE read ALL the lyrics on there (i worked at a distro and we got an advance copy of the cd) and cop killer isn't the worst song. kkk bitch is.

this cd came out with a parental warning sticker on it. I sort of like ice-t, but some of the stuff on that cd... it was... it was to the degree I think he realized someone would make some comments.

The Zombieslayer said...

No one has forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton into their homes.

Yes, Zappa gets it. Agreed that it's a shame Zappa's family members had anything to do with Ms. Gore.