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Twisted Sister's Dee Snider Blasts Irresponsible Parents On PMRC Hearings' 30th Anniversary

"Parents need to step in and take responsibility. But that's the problem, most don't want to take the responsibility."

"Being a parent is not a reasonable thing. It is a very hard thing. I am a parent and I know. OK. I am a new parent. I only have one child, maybe. But I am learning that there is a lot to being a parent that you did not expect. It is not just always a cute baby. There is a lot of labour, a lot of time, and a lot of effort that goes into it. It is not totally pleasurable." - Dee Snider, Sept. 18, 1985

Twisted Sister's lead singer made the above statement 30 years ago at the PMRC (Parent Music Resource Center) Senate hearings on music lyrics in response to a question by then-Sen. Al Gore.

Gore's then-wife Tipper had founded the PMRC with a group of "Washington wives" who were scandalized by the "porn rock" of popular acts ranging from Prince ("Darling Nicki") and Cyndi Lauper ("She-Bop") to AC/DC ("Let Me Put My Love Into You") and Motley Crue ("Bastard").

The group wanted a movie-style rating system on music among other demands like hiding explicit album covers behind the counter, keeping certain music videos off TV and creating a panel to set "industry standards."

"They were upset by the lyrics of some records and they got their husbands to hold a Senate hearing to discuss the subject of rock lyrics," Snider told The Huffington Post Canada during a visit to Toronto to cast his upcoming Christmas musical. "It was really a press maelstrom, and I was the poster boy for heavy-metal back then."

Twisted Sister had come out of nowhere with two massive hits, "I Wanna Rock" and the still-inescapable (thanks to Donald Trump using it as his rallies) "We're Not Gonna Take It." They were everywhere, even that awesome cameo in "Peewee's Big Adventure." But nobody expected to see Snider on Capitol Hill.

"They asked me along with Frank Zappa and John Denver if I would come and talk on behalf of rock. I felt like I was being asked to carry the flag in the battle," he says.

"I went in there, cut-off denim vest, snakeskin boots, earrings, mascara, hair out to here and they looked at me and said, 'oh boy, this is going to be fun.' And I schooled them."

Indeed, after pulling out a speech from his back pocket that he had "folded up like a bad kid in class," he began by explaining that he was a happily married father of a three-year-old and a practicing Christian, adding "Believe it or not, I do not smoke, I do not drink, and I do not do drugs."

Snider spent much of his time defending Twisted Sister's lyrical content, specifically a song about his bandmate's throat surgery which had been accused of being about S&M. "I said, 'I can't help it if Ms. Gore has a dirty mind.' Oh man, you should've seen Al Gore's eyes go red. If he had laser beams, he would've blown me out of the scene."

But in hindsight, the most interesting sparring came over parental responsibility when Sen. Gore asked Snider if he thought it was "reasonable to expect parents to" listen to their children's albums and he replied with the above quote that parenting isn't reasonable.

"I was really proud of that one," Snider says with a grin. "That wasn't in the script. Yeah, what a statement to make. It's like 40 minutes of music and if you really care you can take the time. Like I did with Eminem's record. It was very controversial [so] I listened to it. I didn't censor it for my kids but I used it as an opportunity to discuss 'Stan' [a song about a stalker] and discuss some of the other subjects that were being talked about. It was a great opportunity to share a commonality and I actually got turned on to Eminem.

"The [Senators] acted like, 'Oh we need the government to step in and take control for us because parenting is so tough.' You know what? Then don't have kids. If you don't want to do it yourself, don't have kids.

"Parents need to step in and take responsibility. But that's the problem, most don't want to take the responsibility. They want babysitters. They want government to take care of them. That's a problem with society in general, people not taking personal responsibility for their actions and the actions of the children."

Though the government did not pass a music censorship law, the music industry voluntarily agreed to the now-famous "Parental Advisory" sticker. The decision subsequently meant that many albums weren't stocked at "family friendly" retailers like Wal-Mart, which were often the only music outlet for many non-city kids in the pre-internet era.

Thirty years later, the PMRC hearings may seem quaint (seriously, "She-Bop"?!?) but Snider warns that "censorship still exists, and it is still a problem. When more liberal powers are holding court it becomes more subversive. There are still people out there who want to limit our freedoms and decide for us what we can and cannot do."

Oh, and one last thing.

"I'd like to point out that my wife and I are not divorced like Al and Tipper. None of my kids have been busted for possession like Al and Tipper's, so don't throw stones. Life's tough, I'm not saying it's easy to raise kids. And marriage isn't easy, either. But don't be judgmental of others lest ye be judged yourself."

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