Sexually Explicit Lyrics OK with Tipper When Global Warming’s Involved

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Live Earth got so much coverage today that I swore I wasn’t going to chime in. But there’s one thing I couldn’t let go unsaid.

Right by Al Gore’s side during the event was his wife Tipper, clapping and cheering away for the performers, one of which was Madonna.

This is the same Tipper Gore who in 1985 founded the Parental Music Resource Center specifically to target musicians like Madonna for having explicit lyrics in their songs! Madonna’s “Dress You Up” was on Tipper’s “filthy fifteen” list of songs that she felt should be monitored and rated by the record industry. It’s because of the work of Tipper and the PMRC that the record industry eventually started slapping “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” stickers on CDs. It appears that she has since removed herself so far from the censorship debate that she’s even appeared onstage with the Grateful Dead to raise cash for Al.

So, what? Music censorship is only important if the globe’s warming is not at stake?

I’m not the only one to remember the PMRC. Mark Hemingway, reporting on the event, points out that the Foo Fighters strummed their way through a cover of Prince’s “Darling Nikki,” a song about a girl masturbating in a hotel lobby with a magazine, that got Tipper all riled up in the first place.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend