The story on the cover of our September 16 issue, “Has Rock Gone Too Far?” provoked a strong response from readers, generating more mail than any other story in PEOPLE’s history. Curiously, however, the cumulative response of letter writers—nine-to-one against any form of censorship—was distinctly at odds with the results of our mail-in poll (see box). The editors thank all of you for sharing your views with us.
Rock porn is not something that has just recently come down the pike. Quite a number of parents, including myself, were well aware of what rock ‘n’ roll was headed for as far back as the ’60s. But when we voiced this concern, we were labeled fanatics and extremists, told that the kids needed to express themselves and that it was really truly harmless. I thank God they did not convince me, or my children. (I broke a few albums and records during that time, and now my grown-up kids know why and are glad I did.) Never be afraid to stand your ground with your kids; they’ll thank you later.
It wasn’t 1984 that Orwell should have warned us about. His vision of the future fell one year short. It is 1985 that seems to be the year of oppression aimed at the artistic, creative and controversial elements in our society. I think if history tells us anything about ourselves, it tells us to beware of people who will suppress the rights, any rights, of others. This goes for Tipper Gore, et al, as well. They want to make rock ‘n’ roll “safe” for their kids by putting it under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Let’s keep the government out of the record business. And let us never, never stifle free expression, whether we agree with the message or not. Free speech is a cornerstone of our Republic. So let’s not chip away at it.
Before these people in Washington try to clean up rock music they should get drugs, sex and violence off the streets.
It scares me to death to think we’ve already reached this desperately low for material to “entertain” our youth. We’ve reached the pit, the bottom. This is hell.
Teenagers are much wiser than most adults can imagine. I know. I have tried to teach them English literature for 17 years. What frightens me more than any of the bands mentioned in your story is the sight of a group of teenagers around a fire burning rock ‘n’ roll albums. Faced with the paradox of a society that preaches tolerance yet practices little of it, is it any wonder that many teens are angry, confused and despondent?
New York City
I grew up on Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Mothers of Invention and I bought Zappa’s message: “Brown shoes don’t make it/ Quit school, why fake it?” It took a few years to grope my way back to the real world and make amends for the hurt I caused my parents. Many of the kids I grew up with didn’t have my lucky ending and are 38-year-old burn-outs. Now I have a 16-year-old daughter who idolizes and emulates these rock stars and their music. After two years of her episodic violence and delinquency in our home, truancy, drug use and running away, she now awaits trial at an out-of-state juvenile detention center. I know how the lyrics affected me as a teenager and I have no doubt what influence it had on my child. Rating system for records? You bet, and the sooner the better.
Crystal River, Fla.
It seems to me that since the Washington wives cannot control their own children, they want to control mine. No thank you, ladies. I can turn off MTV myself.
I listen to all types of music and, to tell the truth, even though I know the lyrics I really don’t think about them. True, I would not like my 9 year old to see Madonna or Prince, but most music I would not object to. Also remember, music reflects and is influenced by society—not the other way around.
Lisa Marie Musolf
Hurray for the Washington wives! At last someone is doing something that the “media” don’t look upon as from the far right or a kook. What I’ve come to realize is that the people who pump pornography are desensitizing us to it. Shame on Madonna and all the so-called rock stars of today for bringing hardness and bleakness into the lives of our young people. They are so caught up in their little world of promotion and getting on top, they have forgotten what’s decent and honest.
The older generation does not approve of the younger generation’s music. What else is new?
New York City
I dread the day when three “moral” women can decide for an entire nation what’s right and what’s wrong. One of the women is a “devout Christian” and listens to country & Western music, whose lyrics range anywhere from getting drunk and causing trouble, having children out of wedlock and cheating on wives, to men leaving families so they can be on the road again. I say this woman is a hypocrite and the worst kind, too.
I don’t drink, take drugs and certainly don’t believe in Satan. Guess what? I still like Prince and Madonna. I also got three A’s and two B+’s last year. Miracle, huh? Well, my mother doesn’t need any help from Congress raising me. Neither does most of the U.S. Why don’t you just cut off our ears and poke out our eyes at birth and give them back when we’re 21?
I am 17 and do well in school but I guess I must be dumb. I never would have guessed that the lyrics “messing with the danger zone” meant masturbating. I listen to rock ‘n’ roll and have suffered no ill effects I know of because my parents sit down and talk to me about sex, drugs, violence and anything else I come up against. Don’t blame rockers. Educate your kids.
Lou and Tessie Florence
Although I consider myself fairly open-minded, I was appalled to read your story on the mail-order Asian brides. She cleans his house, cooks his meals, does his laundry and actually finds time to tie his shoes? Every morning? Honey, have I got advice for you. Get a job, get a maid and get him loafers!
I can understand why American men grow frustrated in trying to find a wife who will help them build a home-centered family. If there are these kinds of women in the U.S. (I’m sure there are), then why do we have such a difficult time finding them? I searched high and low before looking to Asia for a wife and marrying (for the first time) at the age of 39. I joined the Florences’ club in January of 1984 and, thanks to them, found a wonderful Filipina whom I married in July of that same year. Men like myself are often criticized for marrying Asian women because it’s felt we want a wife who will be subservient to our every whim. No. We just want a wife who has her priorities right, i.e., God first, family second, job/ career third.
What do your writers mean when they write “old-fashioned girl”? A maid? I am a Filipina and I grew up in the Philippines and stayed there till I was 20 years old. Please be informed that it is known in my country that Filipina women respond to the mail-order-bride scam/ business for the simple reason that it’s the easiest way to get inside the U.S. of A. And once they’re inside they’ll get their family, and I mean all their family, into this country too. You see, this is what we call a marriage of convenience. Aren’t we smart?
Regina M. Roxas
I have mailed a copy of your Betty Rollin story to each of my three children and send you grateful thanks for publishing it. What a tribute of love it was. May my young ones have the same courage and be so kind. I am a 72-year-old, healthy-enough widow, fear death not at all, but dread the thought of what, sometimes, precedes it. I hope my children will help ease my passing from this life to the next if the need arises.
Isabel S. Sanderson
Your article on Betty Rollin hit home. Two years ago cancer reduced my mother to a hemiplegic, 60-pound skeleton without bowel or bladder control. In great pain, robbed of her will to live, she asked me to help her die. My father and I agreed to her request but were spared subsequent action when she passed away minutes after we reached our agonizing decision. I have often said my mother died like a dog. I was incorrect; we live in a society that condones euthanasia for our pets while our loved ones suffer and are deprived of the dignity of death.
Sloan M. Mc Donald, D.D.S.
Who gives these people the right to play God? Why do you think God wrote the Ten Commandments, especially “Thou shall not kill”? Now Betty Rollin writes a book about her proud, wondrous works. Shame on you. I would never think of even suggesting such a horrible thing to my parents or anyone else. I know when it comes time for me to leave this earth at least I won’t have to answer for somebody else’s death. Can you imagine the judgment?
Louise T. Delaney
Priscilla Presley Part II
After reading both articles by Priscilla Presley, I feel dismayed that she has apparently joined the ranks of the Mommie Dearest crowd, by choosing to write about someone who can no longer defend himself. True Elvis fans will remain loyal to the “King” and if Priscilla accomplished anything, it was only to discredit herself.
Fort Smith, Ark.
You really did it this time! When you next print any excerpts from Priscilla’s book, please include plenty of Kleenex between the pages. After finishing Part II, I am convinced there is a little bit of Priscilla in every woman and at least one Elvis in every girl’s lifetime. Thank you, Priscilla, for sharing your story.
Suzanne C. Wood
Colts Neck, N.J.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]