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Perception Rock Music 1950-1990

How did the response to elvis in the 1950's set a pattern for the perception and behavior of rock musicians?

kelsey l

on 4 April 2014

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Transcript of Perception Rock Music 1950-1990

From "Elvis the Pelvis" to the "Antichrist Superstar"
Shock Value of Rock Music from the 1950's to the 1990's
People in the 50's lived with a different mentality than we do today. Much of what we see as normal would be offensive to people in the 50's, who were generally very modest. The majority of families went to church on Sundays and held a high moral code.
Elvis came into the scene with a completely unfamiliar look that most Americans didn't understand:
partly inspired by the time spent hanging around with black people.
hair style
Upbeat stage presence
Why was Elvis the enemy?
"Perhaps the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company" - Joe Lieberman
By the late 90's, Manson was known for promoting individuality, pointing out social hypocrisies and outwardly expressing distaste for organized religions. The band 's shocking appearance and fearless outspokenness began to cause a stir among parents. While Manson's shocking appearance helped him get his point across, it also worked against him:
In 1999, the band was blamed for inspiring the attack on Columbine High School.
Instead of taking responsibility for their own children, parents across America blamed the band's image and lyrics for corrupting their youth.
Marilyn Manson canceled their show in Denver and refused to contribute to the media attention. He knew he was an easy target.
No evidence was found to show that the teen boys listened to Marilyn Manson. The band does not promote hate nor do they present "a call to action" for violence or other immoral activities in their music.
The Controversy
Why is he the enemy?
"The burden of originality is one that most people don't want to accept. They'd rather sit in front of the TV and let that tell them what they're supposed to like, what they're supposed to buy, and what they're supposed to laugh at."
Because some people fear individuality, they tend to fear those who stand for it as well. People tend to fear and hate what they don't understand. (witch trials)
"People tend to associate anyone who looks and behaves differently with illegal or immoral activity."
Parents already fear their teens will lose their direction. They saw the band appearance and assumed they were promoting evil. They took the shock literally instead of seeing it for what it is. (attention grabber/something to make you think) Anyone under this false impression would fear for their child.
Marilyn Manson
What does he stand for?
Marilyn Manson, like many rock acts, stands for individuality, or as he put it, ridding society of its "media-induced coma"
creativity and standing up for oneself.
They oppose oppression of any kind
Alice cooper reinvented the meaning of shock in the 70's. Cooper saw the possibilities of performing on stage and knew that if he was shocking enough, the band would be successful. Alice Cooper founded the genre of Shock Rock, and used negative publicity to their advantage. While other bands focused on peace, Alice Cooper used gory theatrics and stage props while performing.
Fake blood, dolls and dummies
fake guillotines, beheading himself
electric chairs
heavy make up

and dressing in drag
Alice Cooper
Regardless of the time period, rock music has been the center of multiple controversies. There is a constant battle between rock n' roll and parents of it's teenage fans. As the modesty of each generation decreases, musicians continue to push the envelope in order to get their message across, and parents are left dumbfounded and worried by the new generation of music. Often times, the older generation misinterprets the music of the younger generation. As modesty decreases, shock value increases.
The Controversy
America did not know how to react to Elvis. Talk shows knew they could boost rating because of his popularity among teens. But they also knew parents were appalled by his appearance and choice of dance moves. If Elvis were to be on the show, he would not fit in with the regular family oriented entertainment.
At first, The Ed Sullivan show stuck to its family oriented acts and refused to have Presley on the show despite the ratings he had been receiving on rival talk shows. However the rating were too good to pass up and they allowed him on the show.
During his third performance, cameras were ordered to show Elvis from the waist up in an effort to censor his offensive hip shaking. The efforts to censor Elvis failed when the crowd cried with joyful hysteria and applause. The viewers at home knew exactly what they were cheering at, proving the censor futile.
What His Critics Said:
The older generation slammed Elvis, criticizing his "appalling lack of musicality" , "vulgarity" and "animalism."

Many worried over juvenile delinquency and the changing moral values, and turned to entertainers like Elvis for blame.
Like Elvis, the Beatles did not have to do much to win the disapproval of the older generation:
"long" hair
lyrical content
They dared to write songs like "Run For Your Life", that portrayed the stalker-like behavior of a man pursuing a woman.
drug references
sexual innuendos and straightforward lyrics such as, "I'd love to turn you on" from the song, "A Day In The Life"
Politics: speaking about communism during the cold war in the Song,"Revolution" (misinterpreted to be pro-communism) .
The Beatles
In an interview with John Lennon in 1966, Lennon joked while comparing rock n' roll's popularity to Christianity saying, "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus". His remark was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.
Some questioned if Lennon was Anti-Christ or Anti-Religion
Angry Americans burned their albums in protest
The Beatles already caused a stir with their lyrics
critics waited for an opportunity to to prove that the band was a bad influence.
The Controversy
Free thinking leads to misinterpretation
Never before had a band been so outwardly horrifying. Those who feared a the bands corrupting potential protested and fought to ban them from touring in certain areas. The band was thought to be evil. some went as far to believe the band worshiped satan.
How did public reaction to Elvis create a pattern for the perception and behavior of future rock bands?
Marilyn Manson took Alice Cooper's shock rock to a new level. The band was not afraid to push buttons or offend people in order to get their message across
ripping up the bible
burning the american flag
many were convinced he was possessed or worshiped the devil during his performances
protests from religious groups and American Family Association
Using shock to their advantage
Heavy Metal
Heavy metal had its beginning in the 60's and 70's, but the founding of MTV in the 80's brought metal to the mainstream.
Parents saw this angry music as yet another corrupting force from the rock genre. The music was loud and had a seemingly negative message.
Again rock music was looked down upon by older generations as bad music.
Heavy metal lyrics were typically angry and angst-y and their music was loud and exciting. Content ranged from personal issues to politics and tragedy.
The genre had a huge teen following because they could relate to the lyrics and get out their aggression.
Heavy metal was the face of anything rebellious:
Long hair, crazy outfits and shocking bands names with religious references.
"Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll"
Moshing or slam dancing
Glam Metal or Hair Metal movement
big hair and tight fitting clothes, often feminine-looking.
Judas Priest Trial
The Big Four:
Free thinking leads to misinterpretation
Free thinking leads to misinterpretation
"They say that rock 'n' roll is a big influence on juvenile delinquency. I don't think that it is. I don't see how music has anything to do with it at all....I've been blamed for just about everything wrong in this country"
Lennon Defends Himself:
Marilyn Manson defends himself:
"Really, I don't think shock rock really exists anymore. I don't really think you can shock an audience."
Alice explaining how the audience has becomes desensitized, and consequently harder to wow.
Elvis Defends Himself:
In 1985, two teens shot themselves at a playground after listening to the song, “Better By You, Better Than Me” by the heavy metal band, Judas Priest. One of the boys survived, while the other died instantly. The boy’s parents claimed there was a subliminal message in the song, specifically the line, “do it”. They believed the song caused the teens to try to kill themselves. The boys had been drinking beer and smoking marijuana beforehand. The father of the survivor had a gambling and drinking problem, to which the boy’s mother says, “big deal”. The parents took the band to trial, which was later dismissed when it was made clear that the boys both suffered from personal issues. The song was not written by Judas Priest, it was a cover of a Spooky Tooth song. The band stated that it was easy to blame the music because “They had the image of heavy metal against us”. Lead singer Rob Halford states that the prosecution attempted to incriminate the band because of the way they dressed. He argues that as intellectual people, they want to express themselves and write about real feelings, not just about love. He was even questioned on the way he sung the lines of the song, to which he responded that it was simply his vocal style.
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