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After both listening to and reading through this speech a few times I think I havean understanding of what John Denver is trying to say. At first I thought he wasagreeing and advocating for the censorship of music but after thinking about it Iswitched my thought to he’s advocating against the censorship of drugs and alcohol aswell as explicit lyrics in music. The speech starts out with John Denver speaking on how he feels honored and privileged to appear before the chairman and the committee;also voicing how in this society he is able to speak his mind and speak his own opinionsin public. Some barriers John discussed having previously encountered in the beginningare having his own music censored.
His song “Rocky Mountain High” was previouslycensored and banned from many radio stations as being a “drug related” reference. The people who censored this song didn’t really have an understanding of the true meaningof what Denver was singing about. The song’s main storyline is about the experience ofbeing in the Rocky Mountains and seeing the view high up from the peaks; the stars atnight and seeing asteroids fly by; nothing related to being “high” on drugs.John does point out some advantages of not having censorship in music. Hediscussed about how when something is denied or withheld from people it becomes themost interesting. A quote taken from the speech itself is “That which is denied becomesthat which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is mostinteresting.” If we keep putting a great deal of time and energy into censoring lyrics forchildren we are only making what we are censoring more interesting to the people whocan’t hear it. If they just hear it they may not be as interested and will lose attention orinterest in that subject matter.
After a brief introduction Denver dives straight into the main subject matter of the speech and introduces a few proposals or solutions to the problem. John starts bysuggesting that explicit lyrics and graphic videos are not so far removed from what isseen on television every day and night. He believes that blaming the recording industryfor explicit language while watching the same thing on national television is absurd anddoes not make sense because it’s the same children watching these shows that arelistening to explicit language or drug references in music, it’s all over TV. He believesthe real solution comes when parents start taking responsibility for the upbringing oftheir own children. They need to to pay attention to their interests, and needs, as wellas to understand that the parents themselves have a greater influence on our childrenand on each other than anything else could possibly have including the music in which they are blaming.
Some evidence John uses to back up these claims are that thepeoples he’s had the opportunity to speak with. He has spoke with people such astroubled children and what they’ve expressed to him is a bunch of frustration in theirlives which stems from a lack of ability to communicate with their parents. “These kidsgrow up with an inability to understand or to picture any kind of a possible futurebecause of nuclear threat” are the exact words he uses to describe their situation. Theydon’t see anything getting better; they can’t picture the future being financially better forthe small businessman or the small farmer. This is all somewhat related to the mainsubject matter he addresses at the beginning of the speech. It’s not the music or themedia which is causing kids to become troubled, it’s the parents themselves who don’tsee it or don’t do anything to stop it.
Censoring music is only going to make these kidswant to have access to it more instead of getting bored or disinterested naturally likethey would if it wasn’t withheld from them.The way this speech is organized I find interesting. He starts out with introducinghimself and the reason why he is there, but then dives straight into facts and evidenceone after another directed straight at the chairman. One part of the speech that standsout to me and is directed at the Chairman is when he compared the restrictions ofcertain words in music to being related to the overall oppression of people like in NaziGermany; “Mr. Chairman, the suppression of the people of a society begins, in my mind,with the censorship of the written or spoken word. It was so in Nazi Germany.
It is so in many places today where those in power are afraid of the consequences of an informed and educated people.” I didn’t understand what he meant at first and how these couldbe properly associated with each other but after reading it through a couple times Iunderstand what he’s saying. He says in some countries being too educated or beingsmart is looked down upon at the administrative level; the government is afraid to havetoo many smart and educated people who could potentially advocate against thegovernment. This speech has so many different aspects and thoughts all packed into itwhich all tie into each other. Denver finds a way to relate all of these aspects of life intothe overall issue of censoring music and how one small instance of taking awaysomeone’s freedom like that could potentially lead to a bigger issue. It’s best to leave the music as it is.
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