Boy have we come a long way since the 1960s. When Lou Reed was growing up, rock ‘n roll was under attack by culturally conservative critics who believed his music was immoral and a bad influence on the youth who loved it. Even the FBI got involved in investigating the lyrics of “Louie Louie” in 1964 after parents of a high school student complained that the lyrics were “very obscene.”
Now it’s left-wing college students who want to ban music, books, films, comedy, and any other form of artistic or political expression that doesn’t conform to their liberal narrative. The latest example once again involves sexually suggestive rock lyrics. The University of Guelph Central Student Association apologized for playing Lou Reed’s 1972 song, “Walk on the Wild Side,” which they deemed “transphobic.”
What free-loving liberal would object to a song about a real life transgender actress engaging in prostitution and drug use in bohemian New York City? Reed even used the “she” pronoun to describe Holly Woodlawn, who was a biological male at birth. But, no, it is “problematic” to use “dangerous rhetoric” like the word “wild.”
Rap is under attack, too. Collective Shout, a radical feminist group in Australia, lobbied to get the visas of Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Tyler the Creator revoked for “woman-hating lyrics and pimping.”
It’s amusing how closely the PC crowd’s complaints track with radical cultural conservative complaints about music. Sean Hannity, too, says he wants rap albums banned from Wal-Mart due to their risqué and supposedly anti-women lyrics. Mike Huckabee criticized Beyoncé for how she dances and compared Jay-Z to a pimp. Meanwhile, leftist Princeton University students tried to ban Big Sean from campus, because he, too, is sexually attracted to women and sings about it (so he’s “sexist”). As the Horseshoe Theory predicts, at the extreme ends of the political spectrum, the two sides eventually meet.
Films, comedy, even everyday situations are under attack, dissected for any offensive social meaning. At the movies, it’s not just war epics like American Sniper; even trivialities like Zoolander 2 have been banned from places like Claremont McKenna, for “not portray[ing] the LGBTQ community in a positive light and ma[king] a series of inappropriate jokes at the expense of individuals of marginalized identities.” Can’t liberal students take a joke? The fact that a student at UC Irvine pulled a fire alarm to disrupt a showing of a documentary on just that topic may provide the answer.
It has been suggested we are entering a New Victorian Era. We need to shield our precious childlike ears from any mildly controversial words or ideas, even those that are clearly in the realm of fantasy and entertainment. The students who over-analyze rock lyrics are like the freaked-out parents of a few decades ago who played their children’s records in reverse looking for hidden demonic messages.
Or, to put it another way: When it comes to repression, liberals are the new conservatives.