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A Feminist Analysis of the Defenses of Obscene Rap Lyrics

A Feminist Analysis of the Defenses of Obscene Rap Lyrics A Feminist Analysis ol the Defenses ol Obscene Rap Lyrics Sonja Peterson-Lewis One standing interest among persons who study the mass media is the media's potential to affect public and private behavior and atti­ tudes. Music lyrics are one popular medium about which there is current concern and controversy. A major issue is whether artists should be allowed to perform lyrics judged to be obscene or bigoted toward certain groups of people. This question regarding the boundaries of artistic freedom of ex­ pression became a major news subject in early 1990 when the United States federal courts were hearing debates regarding what constitutes artistry as opposed to obscenity. While this controversy enveloped several genres of performing arts, nowhere has the controversy been more sharp than where it has been focused upon the Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew, the first group in United States history to have a recording ruled obscene by a federal district court. The controversy surrounding this group raises important social questions about the definition of obscenity, as well as the more narrow legal questions upon which courts must render their verdicts. What, for example, constitutes biased presentation of groups of peo­ ple? What should be http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

A Feminist Analysis of the Defenses of Obscene Rap Lyrics

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Copyright
Copyright © 1991 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-5.1.68
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A Feminist Analysis ol the Defenses ol Obscene Rap Lyrics Sonja Peterson-Lewis One standing interest among persons who study the mass media is the media's potential to affect public and private behavior and atti­ tudes. Music lyrics are one popular medium about which there is current concern and controversy. A major issue is whether artists should be allowed to perform lyrics judged to be obscene or bigoted toward certain groups of people. This question regarding the boundaries of artistic freedom of ex­ pression became a major news subject in early 1990 when the United States federal courts were hearing debates regarding what constitutes artistry as opposed to obscenity. While this controversy enveloped several genres of performing arts, nowhere has the controversy been more sharp than where it has been focused upon the Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew, the first group in United States history to have a recording ruled obscene by a federal district court. The controversy surrounding this group raises important social questions about the definition of obscenity, as well as the more narrow legal questions upon which courts must render their verdicts. What, for example, constitutes biased presentation of groups of peo­ ple? What should be

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 1991

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