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What a US Senate Hearing in 1985 Tells Us About the Myntra Logo Fiasco

While a complaint has succeeded in forcing the e-commerce website to change its logo, many have been left scratching their heads wondering how the letter "M" resembles a "naked woman".

New Delhi: A complaint filed by a woman against Myntra’s logo may have succeeded in forcing the e-commerce company to change its logo, but it left many people scratching their heads on how a multicoloured “M” resembled a “naked woman”.

According to reports, Naaz Patel’s complaint says “the deliberate placement of the colour scheme” of the letter “M” in the logo is “obscene” as it depicts a “woman’s vagina … [with her] legs spread out in a suggestive manner”.

She adds that this portrayal would “corrupt the mind of the viewers and even excite them” and “lead to further victimisation of women in our society”.

Myntra’s logo.

Though the complaint says this imagery would present itself to the “eyes of any person of normal prudence”, Patel’s claim is clearly a stretch of the imagination.

Flippant complaints have become commonplace in India, but a testimony given by legendary metal artist Dee Snider in a US Senate hearing in 1985 could provide an answer to how Patel reached this conclusion.

At the time, a group of influential women (including Tipper Gore, wife of future US vice president Al Gore) founded the Parents Music Resource Centre (PMRC), a committee that sought to censor artists who – in their opinion – made “obscene” music.

The committee compiled a list of songs called the ‘Filthy 15’, which they said promoted either sex, violence, drug use or occult practices. Their actions resulted in ‘Parental Advisory’ labels on albums.

The PMRC’s influence extended to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Coincidentally, two of its members – Al Gore and Ernest Hollings – and its chairman John Danforth were all married to PMRC members.

Some artists were called in to testify. Frank Zappa and John Denver were among those who deposed and made passionate appeals to protect freedom of expression. However, it was Dee Snider, frontman of the glam metal band Twisted Sister – whose song ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ was in the ‘Filthy 15’ –  who made the biggest impression.

In an interview for the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Snider says the committee “grossly” underestimated his abilities and perceived him as a “dunderheaded rocker” who could be made to look like a fool.

Playing along, Snider went to the hearing in his denim jacket, snakeskin boots and make up. He then proceeded to take apart the PMRC’s allegations that his band’s lyrics promote violence or drug use. He said the concept of “lyrical interpretation” is unfair and amounts to “little more than character assassination”.

One of the songs that Tipper Gore found issue with was ‘Under the Blade’, which she felt encouraged sadomasochism, bondage and rape, specifically pointing to the lyrics:

“Your hands are tied, your legs are strapped
A light shines in your eyes

You faintly see a razor’s edge
You open your mouth to cry”

Snider rejected her interpretation, saying that it was about his guitar player’s shoulder operation and the title of the song referred to the common expression, “going under the knife”.

Snider added:

“Ms Gore claimed that one of my songs, ‘Under the Blade,’ had lyrics encouraging sadomasochism, bondage and rape … The lyrics she quoted have absolutely nothing to do with these topics. On the contrary, the words in question are about surgery and the fear that it instills in people. … I can say categorically that the only sadomasochism, bondage and rape in this song is in the mind of Ms Gore.”

He said that since Tipper Gore was looking for sadomasochism and bondage, she found it. “Someone looking for surgical references would have found it as well,” the frontman said.

Perhaps, Ms Patel too was looking for “portrayal of a woman and her private parts” in a multicoloured “M” and she found it.