38 Years Ago: Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider Testified at the 1985 PMRC Senate Hearing
In 1985, after concern about the effect of music on children, a group of four women including Tipper Gore (wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore) formed the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). The group pushed for a voluntary ratings system for the music industry similar to the movie industry and released a list of songs they found objectionable that was dubbed the "Filthy Fifteen." One of the songs on the list was Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," while tracks by Judas Priest, Motley Crue, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Venom also found themselves under scrutiny.
A Senate hearing was held on Sept. 15, 1985 to discuss placing a rating system into effect. At the hearing, representatives of the PMRC testified along with Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, Frank Zappa and John Denver. Check out video from the hearing above. As a result of the PMRC, the Recording Industry Association of America agreed to put "Parental Advisory" stickers on some albums.
Thirty years after the hearing, Snider has written an Op/Ed for the Huffington Post. In looking back at his testimony, Snider says, "I did welcome the opportunity to show the PMRC and the Senate subcommittee how you should not judge a book by its heavy-metal cover. Their indignant reactions to my '80s rock-star look and their dropped jaws when I proceeded to take every one of their arguments apart were priceless."
Snider continues, "The raw hatred I saw in Al Gore's eyes when I said Tipper Gore had a dirty mind for interpreting my song 'Under the Blade' as being about sadomasochism and bondage (it was actually written about my guitarist's throat operation) was a joy to behold. They really should have vetted me better before allowing me in to speak."
Now that there has been three decades to evaluate the effects of the PMRC and the Senate hearing, Snider says, "Thirty years later, everything and nothing has changed. The ultra-conservatives still want to dictate to the masses what they deem acceptable for the general public to see and hear. The record industry is a mere shadow of its former self (apt punishment for its cowardice), and CDs and vinyl albums have almost become 'novelties' in a world driven by downloads. Yet, the warning labels still adorn individual track listings and albums online."
You can read Snider's entire editorial at the Huffington Post and watch his testimony from the hearing in the video at the top of this post.
See the Yearbook Photos of Dee Snider + Other Rockers