The message may be either overt or covert. In the case of the
overt message, we are talking of course about a message which is
being reinforced by music, something we have said increases the
verbal message's impact. It is being reinforced by repetition,
primary and secondary repetition; primary meaning that within the
same song a given hook line is repeated as many times as 30 or 40
times in a 3 or 4 minute span; secondary repetition comes about
because frequently the words are very difficult to understand.
Typically, the teenager therefore will listen repetitively, over
and over and over, to understand the words and frequently be able
to transcribe them.
The message is reinforced by multisensory input such as the album covers, which have been discussed, the looks of the performers, their theatrics on stage, the visual representations such as MTV, volume levels, etc. And the message is reinforced in individual headphone listening, which is a type of exclusionary listening that I referred to earlier.
The message may also be covert or subliminal. Sometimes subaudible tracks are mixed in underneath other, louder tracks. These are heard by the subconscious but not the conscious mind. Sometimes the messages are audible but are backwards, called backmasking. There is disagreement among experts regarding the effectiveness of subliminals. We need more research on that.
We hear frequently about the first amendment problem. In closing, I would say that while we must protect our first amendment freedoms, we must also protect minors from the abuse of those freedoms. The first amendment, as I understand it, is not a blank check. There are legal, constitutional limitations when we feel that the abuse or the use of a freedom negatively impacts the health of another segment of society. Use of the airwaves for pornography and immoral purposes, especially when aimed at minors, must be controlled somehow. Given the American philosophy, I think we have given the so-called creative artists a wide berth. We have given them more than the proverbial inch, and I believe they have taken more than the proverbial mile.
Somehow we must send a message to the recording and radio industry; enough is enough; you have gone too far. Parents are fighting this scourge all over the country. We plead for help from city councils, radio stations, advertisers and the record industry itself.
I hope that this committee will find a way to send a message to the industry: clean up your act or we will do it for you.
In the words of the heavy metal band, Twisted Sister, "we're not going to take it anymore."
[The statement follows:]