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Offense - A Songwriter's Tool?

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Offense is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. If as the writer we do not intend offense, surely it is better to understand that offense and where it comes from?

Even a humor has a victim and if you are not the target understanding the depth of reaction is not always easy to do. Equally if you do intend offense I would say to any writer toughen up because it will not be the only reaction. You can't just put your hands over your ears and go "la, la, la" to drown it out.

Offence due to sexual content has certainly given many bands a boost, even if a song gets banned. In fact getting banned by a network used to be a main stay to promote alternative bands of one kind or another. It's pretty much overdone now and much of the offense has lost it's sting.

What is your opinion about offense caused by lyrics?

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What an interesting topic/question. I read it when you first posted it John and have been thinking about it on and off since...seem to just go around in circles and not coming up with any definite opinion on the subject, so I thought I'd offend you all with my rambling below... :wacko:

Not my opinion necessarily, and this might seem like a silly thing to say, but to what extent does the listener need to take responsibility for their own sensitivity to a subject that they know offends them? Should they take any responsibility? Or should everything just be bland, PC, vanilla flavoured Cliff Richard inspired type stuff in order to avoid offending everyone? Or is that offensive in itself?

Or should we allow full freedom of expression even if it offends a minority or even the majority? Do we draw the line at anything? If so, why? Why is it ok to be offensive on one topic but others are almost universally too offensive? I remember hearing Metallica's cover of "So What"1when I was in my teens. I was shocked, speechless and most importantly thoroughly entertained! I wouldn't repeat most of the lines in the song, but I certainly wasn't offended. I also wouldn't have played it to my mum!

Perhaps (and maybe this is the bit where I make some sense!) there should be a distinction between inadvertantly and deliberately writing offensive material. Or more to the point - deliberately writing something that is intended to offend someone or a group of people.

I don't know. I think that because I am almost unoffendable (and I can create new words too) that I lean towards allowing completely free speech. I am not offended if I see/hear something that disgusts me. Is anyone else like that? Does it make sense?

What was the question again? Sorry for rambling, just wanted to get something out there on this...

1. If you don't know the song, google it and have a listen. Probably best not to if you are an easily offended sheep, goat, or parent.

Edited by jamieshears
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Here, I think that there's an enormous difference between a song that someone merely finds offensive, and one that is devised by its creator to offend.

I would more-or-less lump almost every hack rap-song into that category ... and then present the work of Will Smith (he of Men In Black fame...) as proof-positive that you can, if you work at it decently enough, produce a completely "clean" lyric that is good.

If you "try to be offensive," I think that you generally consider yourself to be clever when the rest of the world merely considers you to be a jackass. (Ahem...)

And yet, if you have "done your job right," then you are, inevitably, going to have offended someone. (But let's face it ... there are folks out there who are doomed to be offended.) The songwriter did not per se set out to offend them; they just wound up that way.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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