Playlist Restrictions Stifle Student Enthusiasm

Jenna Harper, Features Editor


   From Homecoming to sports games and so many events in between, music has become a defining feature of an event, and oftentimes has a big impact on its overall success in terms of attendance and enjoyment. As these are high school events centered around the students, they should be able to play whatever music they choose, as long as the songs are “clean” versions.

    It’s no secret that our generation has taken a liking to some rather explicit music, and we have no shame in playing it full blast — no matter where that may be. According to Principal Jeff Olivero, “The school’s policy is what generally is deemed as appropriate for a school setting. As you can imagine, varied opinions would come out of who’s to decide what is appropriate.” This makes sense in terms of profanity, although nowhere in the Parent/Student handbook does it state that profanity is not allowed. It’s rather more a mere personal choice, something not regulated, just frowned upon. With that being said, doesn’t that mean we should be able to play whatever songs we chose, as long as the profane language is censored? Apparently not.         

   While it’s understood that songs containing explicit words are frowned upon and not advocated by the school, apparently neither are the “clean” versions of these songs: versions that censor out explicit words. “Well, the clean version isn’t always school appropriate. They could take out profanities, but the context of the music may still not be appropriate,” explained Olivero. Sure, use of the “n-word” or explicit sexual content might offend some members of the audience, but should freedom of speech extend to freedom of listening?

   Olivero said, “I think some of it has to do with the audience. For instance, at an athletic event we might have community members, parents, grandparents, and small children and so what might be okay in one setting, might not be okay in the next setting.” Singing along to profanity in front of their grandmothers is probably not most students’ idea of fun anyway, but is the event about the athletes and students or the spectators? That’s arguable.

    The intended audience also seems to contribute to how much the songs need to be censored, considering songs for school dances aren’t nearly as controlled as songs for other events. Olivero also mentioned how for dances, such as Homecoming, they tend to not pay as much attention and take more of a “blind eye” approach. “At the dance itself, that has a little less oversight. That’s up to ASB to be able to screen in advance. Typically, they go with clean versions. We haven’t in the past paid as much attention to the context because we don’t know all the songs.” However, aren’t the students technically an audience too?

  Senior Anela Sakamoto-Vasquez, the ASB Media Commissioner, controls what songs are played at Homecoming. “We just take in everyone’s suggestions on the ASB Instagram, and if I can’t find the clean version, I don’t include it.” ASB has unfortunately taken some backlash in the past for not including certain songs on the playlist.  So it seems we’ve got a few different policies here, making the difference between what we can and cannot play rather confusing.

   Regardless, these games and dances, and whatever other events, are for and about the students, so it should be up to us what we play, as long as it’s not overly vulgar. It’s not as if we’re performing acts relating to the explicit context. We get it, bad words are bad, but these songs get us hyped, and in all honesty, it’s simply a sign of the times. It’s the generation we’ve grown up in, so it’s not fair that we are barred from being able to play what we want to play.

    Vulgarities and explicit words aside, music is a central part of so many events, and if the audience is students and the purpose of the event is geared towards the students, it should be up to the students to choose the playlist.