Censorship in Literature and Music Essay examples

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Censorship in Literature and Music


What is censorship? An encyclopedia defines censorship as "the control of what people may say or hear, write or read, or see or do1." There are many reasons why people censor entertainment such as literature and music. Many governments or groups try to preserve their standards of morality by preventing people from learning about or following other standards2, commonly found in the two previously mentioned mediums. There are different ways to censor things. It can be on a local level, such as libraries refusing to carry a controversial book. It can also be on an entirely larger scale. In the 1770’s, French author Beaumarchais had two of his plays, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro
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Alex Domokos, the author of the novel Prometheus, said this about his experiences in post World War II Hungary: "In post World War II Hungary there were public libraries, but the accessibility of certain materials was screened. Books on Western literature and philosophy were carefully censored and instead of widening, they narrowed our vision.6" In 1968, the Doors' single "Unknown Soldier" was banned from airplay at many radio stations because of its anti-war theme.

With the 1950’s came the birth of rock and roll. Because of its scandalous nature, the majority of censorship cases now came from music. The first noted censorship of music in the 1950’s came when radio stations around the country banned Dottie O'Brien's "Four or Five Times" and Dean Martin’s "Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am" fearing they had hidden sexual messages and references7. This incident spread to cover many artists, including The Weavers, Stephen Foster, Webb Pierce, Cole Porter, Rosemary Clooney, T-bone Walker, Little Richard, Billie Holiday, & Link Wray8.

Probably the most famous case of censorship in rock happened when Elvis Presley performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Usually during Elvis’ performances, he would gyrate his hips, causing teenage girls in the audience to go into frenzies. Ed Sullivan vowed he would never put Elvis on his show. Eventually, Sullivan gave in, and Elvis appeared on the show, but under one…

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