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The RIAA's Nose Grows
The Marketing of Violent & Explicit Content to Children
By Darren Ratner
(more articles from this author)
2001-04-30
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In a perfect world, maybe organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission are able to combat the reality that kids find ways to watch the crappiest movies and listen to the filthiest music. But the FTC report on the marketing of violent entertainment to youngsters proves that a perfect world is merely a pipe dream.

A follow-up study to the September 2000 report claims that both the movie and video game industries have polished up their act in regards to violence, leaving the recording industry as the black sheep. The five major recording companies are accused of continually exposing teenage boob-tubers and readers to advertisements for music with explicit content. More than 50% of the ads are targeted to the under-17 audience while leaving the children, as well as parents, clueless about the offensive content.

"...the motion picture and electronic game industries have improved and enhanced the self-regulation of their marketing practices," said FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky. "Unfortunately, the music industry response, at least so far, has been disappointing in its failure to institute positive reforms to its self-regulatory structure."

Other complaints include that of the Parental Advisory Label itself. Although it is often present, it tends to be minute in size and fails to list the derogatory content that led to a warning. Hilary Rosen of the RIAA had this to say:

"We agree that we need to do a better job of following our own guidelines... we established uniform guidelines urging all of our on-line retail partners to prominently display the Parental Advisory Label for all 'stickered' products."

Sounds like a beating around a lot of different bushes. The Internet not only remains a prime outlet for music advertising, but on-line retail makes up for only 3.2% of music sales. The other 96.8% belongs to stores such as Sam Goody and Coconuts, as well as non-traditional outlets, mail order houses & record clubs. It can only be surmised that the industry still looks to in-store sales as a major source of revenue. So if only 3.2% of all music is sold over the net, you can be sure that record companies will use the Internet to keep its in-store sales powerful. With the recent rise of MP3's and Napster, sucking free music for everything its worth, the recording industry may still be cradling that in-person sale.

But unlike your average CD, talk comes very cheap. 75% of parents may applaud the effort put forth by the RIAA, but it's a fact that children as young as 13 are LEGALLY allowed to purchase explicit music from retail stores such as Record Town - a minor detail the RIAA forgot. What's required to accomplish this? Just a sign around your neck saying, "I'm 13!" No parental guidance needed. They know that a 13 year old is fully capable of dishing out $15 dollars for their favorite album. In the business sense, the RIAA isn't dumb.

Oh yes, then there's the cry of First Amendment advocates. MPAA President and CEO Jack Valenti spoke out at the National Association of Broadcasters convention on April 23rd in Las Vegas.

"...there is no right more crucial to the sustenance of liberty than the right to speak up," said Valenti. He was also quoted as saying that the First Amendment is "the wisest and the most valuable design for democracy ever put to paper."

Branding the First Amendment as the most valuable part of our democracy can be argued till the end of time. But in this particular case, shouldn't it be noted that there is also such a thing as abuse of liberty? While many artists can exercise the right to free speech, it doesn't mean that it's beneficial to others. Those who are thorns to the RIAA's side seemed to have adopted that, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it" policy. Think Eminem would take that lightly? Probably not.

And parents? Where do they stand as key holders to our children's lives?

"...it's important to note that we do have guidelines in place and that they are overwhelmingly supported by parents," said Rosen.

To my knowledge, parents are seriously in danger of approaching that infamous realm of stupidity. If the child can't buy the album on his/her own, he/she is almost certain to know a peer that can. It's a realization that the RIAA has silently exploited while parents seem oblivious. With a good percentage of music advertisement on television and in magazines, the buyer's temptation reaches bigger heights. Therefore, he/she wants it more and will look into various ways of getting it. Elementary, my dear Watson!

There seems to be two bottom lines:

One - The record industry will never let anything get in the way of the almighty dollar. Sacrificing the minds of kids who are obviously too young and impressionable is worth less than the cha-ching at the cash register. The label will remain constant on albums that need it, but the industry will do almost anything to ensure that you miss it.

And two - Labels Schmabels! Parents will never gain control of their kids in regards to what they listen to as long as there is television and magazines. What's the best thing for parents to do? Watch what CD's they bring home, take a peek at what they read or look at what they tune in to.

Wake up America - we're losing our children.

Linkography

FC - www.ftc.gov
MPAA - www.mpaa.org
RIAA - www.riaa.com

Related News from Mi2N:
» FTC Releases Follow-Up Report On The Marketing Of Violent Entertainment To Children
» Statement By Hilary Rosen On Music Industry & Voluntary Labeling Program


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