MUSIC: A HEALTH ISSUE?

By: Susan Gahagan


PMRC STAYS HEALTHY WITH DOW CORNING MONEY

The Parent's Music Resource Center (PMRC), a dominating force in the music censorship movement, has published a brochure entitled "MUSIC -- A Health Issue?" which was supported by a grant from Dow Corning Corporation. In it they say that because rock music lyrics have become increasingly explicit over the last two decades and are available to a much younger audience, they pose unprecedented threats to the health and well-being of adolescents. The PMRC claims music lyrics and videos have become an important facet of our youth's environment since, according to a recent study, teenagers watch an average of two hours of music videos every day. They report that because "children learn and form attitudes from what they see on TV" pediatricians are constantly examining today's environment to determine what factors affect their youth patients' physical, emotional and psychological health.

PMRC cites examples which they say "glamorize" undesirable behavior. On the subject of suicide: "Suicide Solution," by Ozzy Osbourne; murder: "You're All I Need," by Motley Crue; rape: "I Want Action," by Poison; drugs: "Hold It Now, Hit It," by Beastie Boys; incest: "Sister," by Prince; and sexual violence: "Anything Goes," by Guns N' Roses. Apparently, the glamorization of such subjects will, in the PMRC's opinion, cause kids to act them out. And for this reason they endorse the labeling of records but adds that since compliance to the voluntary agreement made with 20 of the nation's top music producers has been very spotty, parents must not rely on this alone.

Admittedly, the PMRC does give some good advice in the brochure. They recommend that parents keep lines of communication open with their children. Also, bearing in mind that their taste in music may differ from that of their child's, they should discuss the music's lyrical content and feelings about such. Other concerns to look after are possible hearing injuries due to loud music and the potential hazard of festival seating. Like I said...good advice. After all, if all parents took interest and time to this extent we would indeed have fewer teenagers with problems. As usual, though, they blame everything from teen-pregnancies to suicide on Rock N' Roll so coupled with this advice is encouragement to censor. They urge parents to file complaints with the FCC when they see or hear something objectionable on TV or radio.

What I find objectionable is Dow Corning's participation in censoring. Equally objectionable is that they would be so hypocritically concerned about health of anyone let alone our youth. Is this the same company that agreed to pull their silicone gel breast implants only after controversy surrounding the product tarnished profitability prospects for the company?

Over two million women have had breast implants and until the moratorium was placed upon their use 130,000 more seeked them each year. Recipients have complained that the implants caused side-effects such as sharp pain in breast and pelvic regions, severe fatigue and headaches, numbness, infections and leakage that begins to erode the user's ribs. The green ooze found in women's chest walls is not life-threatening according to Dow Corning. But in 1988 they released a report saying that implants were proving carcinogenic in rats. Twenty-three percent of the rats tested by injecting silicone into them developed malignant tumors. Another study of beagles reported that implants caused no significant effects on four dogs, even though one died and another developed a tumor.

There have been numerous charges that the company withheld information on the implant's risks from the Food & Drug Adminstration. Dow Corning recently revealed it has long known about the complaints that it's silicon gel breast implants leak but only acknowledged it can cause "persistent tissue inflammation." They continue to insist the devices pose no threat of cancer or other life-threatening complications. What's carcinogenic to rodents is not necessarily translatable to humans, they say. However, they have also set up a $10 million research fund that will be used for continuing breast implant research. Many people, outraged that Dow Corning funded research AFTER the product was removed from the marked, believe the deed sends a morally deficient message.

Many are fearful that the health problems we are seeing today with implants are merely a hint of the disaster to come.

But now Dow Corning Corp. helps pay for the PMRC's pamphlet on the detrimental health effects Rock N' Roll can cause. Was this a public relations gimmick for Dow Corning? I don't know. I suppose it is possible that, in light of all the bad publicity they've received over the implant controversy they simply wanted to improve their image. But I believe it is also possible, though merely speculative, that Dow Corning thought it beneficial to support an organization which nearly half of its board of directors are wives of prominent politicians; among them Susan Baker and Tipper Gore, two of the group's founders. Undoubtedly Dow Corning realizes the future of the implant market rests mainly in the hands of our government.

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