Zappa on School Beat, 1986

Frank Zappa debates and discusses rock censorship, the PMRC, the PTA code, the “non-binding nothingness” which the record companies and the then Washington Senator’s wives perpetrated on the American public with the assistance of the media) with Christian rock DJ, Jim Hodson (Producer/Host of Real Videos), Norma Downs (California State PTA Communications Commission), and School Beat host, Roberta Weintraub.

It is with groups such as this that Zappa unleashes his most caustic sardonic and cynical venom. Even so, one can almost tell he has difficulty keeping his obvious contempt under wraps. He nearly cringes whenever the term “porn lyrics” is uttered. The term really is so oxymoronic, particularly later in the debate when the term “murder music” is also uttered.

I mean, Hodson loses all credibility when he speaks of some unnamed woman caller to his show whose “life has really been affected by the negative aspects of these lyrics.” Is Hodson serious? He goes on to say “music is like a knife,” comparing it to a serial killer’s weapon of choice. He reminds me of those born-again folks on who constantly share their Christian Rock with me. They are very happy to evangelize, but twist ‘n frugg in a petulant frenzy whenever I share “Dumb All Over” in return. Hmmmmm. Go figure?

After watching this program, first aired on KHJ-TV, LA, on January 5th, 1986, I more fully appreciate and understand the fierce battle which Zappa was fighting in the 1980s. It was almost as though stupidity had become epidemic. I mean, words hurting you? Absurd. The entire concept of obscenity is a myth. There is no such thing as an obscene word. Or image for that matter.

If memory serves, I was eight years old when I first heard the song “Magdalena“, a song about pancakes, maple syrup, Canadians, and incest. I never went blind, grew hair on the palms of my hands, or became a serial killer. I did become a life-long Zappa freak, though (oh, the horror, the horror, the horror…).

Part 2 | Part 3

Author: urbangraffito

I am a writer, editor, publisher, philosopher, and foole (not necessarily in that order). Cultural activist and self-described anarchist.

4 thoughts on “Zappa on School Beat, 1986”

  1. What is quite admirable about this debate is Frank’s insistence that there is no link between “pornography” and mental illness.

    It is so easy to get sidetracked by such snivelling pulp and brooding, when in reality, it wouldnt matter if there were a link or not, the US constitution is clear on the issue. If pornography caused the sky to cave in, any law against it would still be unconstitutional.

    As a follow up, I’d recommend the documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated”, which shows the potential fall out of a self-censoring industry. Disgusting stuff indeed.

    Even before the neoCon. sleaze of the Clinton administration, I’ve had nothing but disdain for Tipper and Al. What filthy, elitist dreg. If Tipper wanted to get involved in Consumer’s Rights, why attack rock artists when cash cows like Exxon, the Automotive Industry and Con Ed were doing far worse harm at the time?

    That’s why Gore cost Nader the 2000 election…

  2. Frank Zappa – National Treasurer!

    That was a long time before 4chan, but I sense shenanigans!

    (I understand that it was intended to be “National Treasure”, which itself is just as hilarious)

  3. Watching Frank give a clue to the clueless is always a treat. Thankfully, Zappa was “on-duty” back then. Whose “on-duty” now?

    It was a nice cop-out for alot of parents to blame music for fucking up their kids.

  4. I remember watching this on channel 9 in LA at the time.
    It’s funny how the other panel members seem so much
    stupider after all these years. I though they were pretty stupid
    back then.

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