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Wal-Mart’s Music Censorship

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Imagine Green Day just came up with a great album that everyone has been raving about. The excited fans decide to head over to the local Wal-Mart to grab an easily accessible copy of this album. Sadly, they find that Wal-Mart will not sell the album because Green Day refuses to self-censor their songs, which Wal-Mart demands of all artists. Wal-Mart also refuses to stock CDs with parental advisory stickers on them, although it should be the consumer’s choice on whether they choose a CD with a parental advisory sticker on it. This prevents music fans from buying certain albums that they want and have been so hyped up for. This outrage in the way Wal-Mart deals with music censorship is wrong and contributes to the reason why Wal-Mart is bad. Wal-Mart is a massive retail company that has large chains of department stores and warehouse stores all over the nation. The company was founded by Sam Walton, a businessman in Arkansas, in 1962, and it is the world’s third largest public corporation, making it very popular and well-known. Although it started in the United States, Wal-Mart operates in 15 different countries like Mexico, Canada, South America and the United Kingdom.

It has 8,500 stores under 55 different names, for example, in Mexico it is referred to as Walmex. Wal-Mart also runs supercenters, which stock everything that a Wal-Mart store sells, but also has a full service supermarket like a bakery for baked goods. Despite being extremely popular, Wal-Mart is irresponsible in the way it deals with music censorship and should not be allowed to influence its consumer’s music decisions and monopolize music industries like the American record industry. The way Wal-Mart controls consumer decisions by only selling albums that are censored, and banning the rest without parental advisory stickers is very unfair. Bassist Mike Dirnt expresses his opinion on Wal-Mart’s music censorship by stating that, “As the biggest record store in the America, they should probably have an obligation to sell people the correct art” (Source D). He argues that they should make all albums of the artist available to the people regardless of censorship. Wal-Mart should be obligated to sell people these albums because they cannot control the decisions and freedoms of their consumers and what the purchase in their stores.

Marsh, the publisher of politically oriented newsletter Rock and Rap Confidential, agrees with Mike’s view on censorship, and believes Wal-Mart’s music censorship “is not about protecting people” arguing that “Wal-Mart sells guns, they sell junk food” and numerous carcinogens, which do not protect the general public”(Source C). If Wal-Mart really wanted to protect the general public, like it claims to do by censoring music, they would not be selling cigarettes and other hazardous substances to people. If it is letting people make decisions about whether to buy carcinogens or not, they should let consumers decide what music they want by offering even the uncensored music.

Wal-Mart also monopolizes music industries by forcing them to censor their music; otherwise Wal-Mart will not agree to sell them in their widely accessible local stores. An example of this monopolization is the American record industry, which has “allowed itself to be bamboozled into giving Wal-Mart and similar operations a near monopoly over their music” (Source A). Small bands that are struggling to get their music out may not even get a chance to appeal to the public because they have censor their music content, and if they do not, Wal-Mart will not sell them. This monopolization of music is awful because some artists, especially new ones, need an easily accessible store to market their music to a wide audience. So if they do not censor their music, they have lost this chance of spreading their music and having consumers buy it. Also, “in some areas of the country, Wal-Mart is the only place to buy CDs or tapes”, which forces music companies to censor their music, because otherwise they would not be getting as much consumer sales (Source C). Consumers in these areas are forced to buy their CDs from Wal-Mart, because they have no other choice. Wal-Mart’s monopolization of music industries also forces companies to comply with the rules of its music censorship, and change their music to fit the needs of this popular corporate business. It should allow music industries to control their own music, and market the music that they want to the public.

Wal-Mart has a policy that says if companies refuse to censor their music, or market different variations or options that comply with their standards, they will not make the CD available in their stores. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Melissa O’Brien declared that “with all music it is up to the artist or label to decide if they want to market different variations of an album to sell, including a version that would remove a PA rating” and if artists “in this case have decided not to do so” Wal-Mart cannot “offer the CD”(Source D). Wal-Mart has a point in saying that artists can make different versions of a song that are censored and offer those options in the market as well. The artists that refuse to offer alternatives and censor their music will suffer a loss because their albums will not be sold in Wal-Mart chain stores. However, regardless of whether these albums are censored, and have alternatives to them, Wal-Mart should be obligated to sell people the CDs that are uncensored or have parental advisory stickers on them. Bassist Mike Dirnt states that Wal-Mart “should probably have an obligation to sell people the correct art” (Source D). Regardless of whether these albums are censored, and have alternatives to them, and they should not control consumer’s decisions by placing a ban on certain albums. Also, artists should not be forced to make different versions of their albums, and not have much of a say in what their audiences listen to.

They should be allowed the freedom to market their music, however they like, and consumers should have the freedom to buy the music of their choice, whether it is censored or not. Overall, Wal-Mart is very irresponsible in its music censorship policies, and it should review these policies so they are not monopolizing music industries and restricting the decisions of its music buying consumers. Being a nationwide, local, store that is easily accessible, the decisions it makes in banning certain albums can hurt an artist’s music sales detrimentally, and can affect the success of a newly emerging artist. For new artists, selling their albums in Wal-Mart is a way for them to reach a wide audience, so they can get them to buy their albums. Sadly, if they decide not to censor their music, they will not receive this great opportunity, affecting their chance of becoming popular and making it big in society. Also, consumers are being affected by Wal-Mart’s music censorship rules because they are not getting the freedom of choosing the music they want. Some people that only have Wal-Mart in their area to get CDs have no other choice but to go there for albums, and because Wal-Mart only sells censored CDs and ones with parental advisory stickers on them, these people may not be able to get the albums and songs of their favorite bands.

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