Gagging On Gaga: Should We Rate Concerts Like Movies?

Tulsa World
Jay Cronley: Gagging on Lady Gaga is our musical heritage
by: JAY CRONLEY World Staff Columnist
Friday, April 08, 2011

This one is about the shock value of language as it pertains to certain music concerts.

Adults, you can always leave when what you consider to be unpleasant talk begins.

Most language use, even the so-called filthiest, is protected under the freedom of speech amendment.

In the ’50s and early ’60s, comedian Lenny Bruce tested the grit of the freedom of speech amendment by reciting all the dirty words and phrases invented up to that point.

Speaking off-color material is not restricted to a more youthful age. Some of the foulest comics in the better clubs are getting along in their decades.

Even mainstream music has a history with racy material – Bette Midler and the bathhouse circuit, for example, and Chuck Berry making up words for body parts.

They came, they heard, they left: A friend of mine took his 15-year-old daughter and a couple more around that age to the Lady Gaga concert Monday at the BOK Center, but couldn’t make it through the opening round of profanities and sexual references, and so they departed.

Movies, TV shows and video games are rated for adult content, for language, nudity and violence.

There are warnings about music lyrics.

Books and concerts – you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to finding out what’s between the covers or curtains.

Language that is frequently unspeakable, except when it comes to entertainment, serves two purposes at a concert.

It’s there for the shock value.

It’s also like a special form of communication, almost like a code, a major factor in an us-against-them mentality that has been around since generations conflicted; or started going to concerts together.

The language says: If you don’t like what goes on inside this venue, then stay home.

Ticket-holders, beware: There’s no fair-warning amendment to the Constitution. The right to gentle language shows up through your computer or phone.

When it comes to language at a concert, it’s pretty much up to the ticket holder to find out what’s apt to take place.

Cussing – so what? Letterman does it.

But bringing body parts into the discussion at a concert could be something of another matter culturally, as it could make sexuality seem more routine.

Original Print Headline: Gagging on Gaga? It’s our musical heritage

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