Gore, Mary Elizabeth 1948-

views updated

GORE, Mary Elizabeth 1948-

(Tipper Gore)

PERSONAL: Born Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson, August 19, 1948, in Washington, DC; married Albert Gore, Jr. (a politician and former U.S. vice president), May 19, 1970; children: Karenna, Kristin, Sarah, Albert III. Education: Boston University, B.A., 1970; George Peabody College for Teachers of Vanderbilt University, M.A., 1976. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Baptist.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Henry Holt Inc., 115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011.

CAREER: Tennessean (daily newspaper), Nashville, TN, affiliated with photography department, 1971-76; chair of congressional task force, Washington, DC, 1978-79; Parents' Music Resource Center, Arlington, VA, cofounder and vice president, beginning 1985; freelance photographer. Member of board of directors, Capital Children's Museum and Center for Science in the Public Interest; served on American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Children and Television.


as tipper gore

Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN), 1987.

Picture This: A Visual Diary, Diane Publishing, 1996.

(With husband, Al Gore, Gail Buckland, and Katy Homans) The Spirit of Family, Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Al Gore) Joined at the Heart: The Transformation of the American Family, Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore, wife of former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., is the author of the 1987 book Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society. The book is an outgrowth of Gore's activism against the violence, misogynism, and graphic sexuality in television programs, movies, music videos, and popular music aimed at young people. She and her husband have also written Joined at the Heart.

Gore was born in Arlington, Virginia. Her unusual nickname came from a lullaby, "Tippy Tippy Tin," her mother often sang her. After her parents divorced, she and her mother moved in with her grandparents. She excelled in school, especially as an athlete, and was the drummer in an all-girl band called the Wildcats. She met Al Gore, Jr., in Washington, D.C., and followed him to the Boston area during his studies at Harvard University. She earned a psychology degree from Boston University in 1970, and the Gores were wed in May of that year. The couple relocated to Tennessee, which Albert Gore, Sr. had represented in Congress for many years, and Gore worked in journalism for a time as a news photographer for the Nashville Tennessean. Gore eventually earned a master's degree in her field in 1975 from Vanderbilt University; the following year she became a political spouse when Tennessee voters sent her husband to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected to the Senate in 1984.

In the late 1970s Gore served as chair of the Congressional Wives Task Force. In 1984, at the request of her eleven-year-old daughter, she purchased a copy of the Prince recording Purple Rain, and became frustrated that she had no way of knowing beforehand the unsuitableness of the music's adult-themed lyrics. A year later she formed the Parents' Music Resource Center (PMRC) as a means of forcing the record industry to label albums containing explicit lyrics. The Center's first action was to propose to the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) a rating system for records similar to the one already in use for films, but the RIAA counterproposed a simpler, blanket warning label. The matter attracted media attention after the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) joined forces with the PMRC and a hearing on the issue was scheduled by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Gore was deemed a reactionary right-wing crusader for censorship by some in the press; in response she vehemently denied any desire to truncate First Amendment rights, stating that her objective was to protect America's children from easily accessible images of sex, violence, and death.

Many in the recording industry feared that the 1985 senate hearings might lead to the governmental legislation of artistic license and viewed them as another facet of the conservative tide that seemed to be sweeping the nation. Ultimately, eighty percent of U.S. record companies voluntarily agreed to tag products with a label and to make explicit lyrics visible to the purchaser.

In a similar vein to her activism, Gore's book Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society is a guide for parents who wish to become aware of the potentially negative media images that are accessible to children through cable television, movies, and recorded music. In the book Gore reiterates the arguments she presented at the Senate hearings. She contends that the major media conglomerates exploit teenagers and children by providing sensationalistic music and videos that are naturally attractive to youth culture. Gore also argues that alcoholic-beverage companies, often the sponsors of concert tours, manipulate youths by exposing them to advertising at concert venues, leading teenagers to substance abuse. She marshals statistics detailing the rising rates of alcohol and drug addiction, as well as climbing figures for teenage suicide and violent crime, to present her case, calling for parents to keep abreast of what their children are watching and hearing. She stresses that this behavior does not resemble censorship since it promotes more information and not less. Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society received mixed reviews from conservative and liberal quarters alike. Fred Barnes in the American Spectator described Gore as "a leaden writer," and deemed the book "repetitive." However, Chicago Tribune contributor Stephen Chapman noted: "In a society that cherishes freedom enough to tolerate its offensive manifestations, all adults have an obligation to help preserve the sanctity of childhood. Tipper Gore, who has not been deterred by the abuse of rock musicians or the scorn of journalists, deserves the gratitude of both parents and children for trying to awaken Americans to that duty."

After Al Gore became vice president during the Clinton Administration, Gore began a period of renewed political activism. She became an advocate for the homeless, for disenfranchised children, and for mental-health issues. She served as special advisor to Clinton's Interagency Council on the Homeless and organized a nonpartisan group of Washingtonians called Families for the Homeless. In 1996 she authored Picture This: A Visual Diary, documenting her life as the wife of the vice president with her own photography. Revenues from the book were donated to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. She has also coauthored another work that features her images, The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America.

During her eight years in Washington, Gore worked to eradicate the stigma associated with mental-health issues and provide affordable help for all Americans. She won praise for speaking candidly about her own experiences after admitting in 1999 that she had been treated for depression during the time her six-year-old son was recuperating from a serious accident.

In 2002 Gore and her husband published Joined at the Heart: The Transformation of the American Family, a look at the variety of groupings many Americans call families. Among those profiled are couples with children from several previous marriages, mixed-race families, a gay white couple that adopted black children, and other such examples. A critic for Publishers Weekly remarked that the Gores employ "a holistic approach to the underlying problems affecting today's families." Beth Kephart in Book called the title a "homey, accessible volume whose authors' commitment to their family and to the lives of others feels genuine and absolute."

In 2002's The Spirit of Family the Gores collect some 250 photographs depicting contemporary American families. Organized by theme, the photographs range from the touching to the tragic, covering a whole array of family types and possibilities. A critic for Publishers Weekly called the book an "impressive collection," and Raymond Bial, in a review for Library Journal, concluded that "the Gores did a fine job of selecting and arranging an outstanding collection of photographs."



Contemporary Newsmakers, 1985, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.


American Spectator, September, 1987, p. 42.

Book, November-December, 2002, review of Joined at the Heart: The Transformation of the American Family, p. 84.

Chicago Tribune, May 22, 1987, p. 27.

Christian Science Monitor, June 10, 1999.

Insight on the News, January 7, 2003, Janice Shaw Crouse, review of Joined at the Heart, p. 52.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Joined at the Heart, p. 1444.

Library Journal, December, 2002, Raymond Bial, review of The Spirit of Family, p. 117.

Life, March, 1994.

Nation, July 18, 1987, pp. 61-63; June 28, 1999.

New York Times, November 6, 1987, p. A19; January 4, 1988, p. C18; September 6, 1992; May 19, 2000; June 1, 2000.

Publishers Weekly, October 7, 2002, review of Joined at the Heart, p. 63; October 21, 2002, review of The Spirit of Family, p. 66.

Rolling Stone, April 15, 1993.*

About this article

Gore, Mary Elizabeth 1948-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article