Zappa vs. Censors


Heinrich Klaffs/Creative Commons

Armed with a dry, acerbic wit, rock-jazz-classical-freakout composer Frank Zappa was unafraid to get idiosyncratically political in his defenses of free expression and opposition to government meddling. The new documentary Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words consists entirely of archival footage delivering a pure jolt of Zappa's personality and thought.

On being offered a lot of money to play an event hosted by French Communists, he said, "Fuck the Communists. I don't like those people." At 1985's infamous Parental Music Resource Center congressional hearings—which led to parental advisories on recordings—Zappa called the Tipper Gore-led commission's recommendations "a sinister toilet training manual…whipped up by the wives of Big Brother."

On a mid-1980s episode of CNN's Crossfire, a socially conservative journalist appalled with Zappa's strident opposition to government censorship of music asked him if he was an anarchist. Zappa replied, "I'm a conservative." The greatest threat facing America, Zappa said, was not communism but the push to make America "a fascist theocracy."