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  #1  
Old 11-10-2008, 03:36 PM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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Penis and Vagina on tv

I understand and get the logic about American tv, the FCC and expletives, vulgarity on the public airwaves.
Being from a pinko, liberal and (if you believe the myths) hedonistic Sweden, it's a big non-issue for me. There's been live intercourse on Big Brother, swearing is legio and acted sex scenes are abundant. n.b. I'm not saying our way is better, just different.

What I don't get is how tv shows get away with using words like penis and vagina.
- Face it, it sounds kinda vulgar.
- If the rules are there to protect the li'l ones, having your four year old come up and ask "Daddy, what's a vagina?" can be kinda awkward, but mostly, the word would've come up in a context which might be hard to explain. The dirty word is verboten, but the situation where the substitute word came up is not.
- I realize that writers use these words to skate around the rules, which must be pretty obvious to the FCC as well. I guess there've been some rulings that set the standards.

So, is there a movement from the morality police to ban these words as well? Isn't the FCC a bit concerned about it? Wouldn't sensitive ears be just as offended by hearing "Frikkin' Vagina"?
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  #2  
Old 11-10-2008, 03:43 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Penis and vagina sound vulgar?
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  #3  
Old 11-10-2008, 03:43 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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Quote:
What I don't get is how tv shows get away with using words like penis and vagina.
Is this a whoosh?

Those are the actual names for the body parts in question. They are not slang, or anything dirty.
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  #4  
Old 11-10-2008, 03:51 PM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyebrows 0f Doom View Post
Is this a whoosh?

Those are the actual names for the body parts in question. They are not slang, or anything dirty.
Did you read the whole post?
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  #5  
Old 11-10-2008, 04:01 PM
nivlac nivlac is offline
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Penis and vagina are not verboten words on American TV, even on non-cable.
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  #6  
Old 11-10-2008, 04:22 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Let's look at what the regulators themselves have to say on the issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Federal Communications Commission
Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be broadcast at any time. The Supreme Court has established that, to be obscene, material must meet a three-pronged test:

An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and

The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Indecent Broadcast Restrictions

The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity.

The courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted in order to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.

Consistent with a federal indecency statute and federal court decisions interpreting the statute, the Commission adopted a rule that broadcasts -- both on television and radio -- that fit within the indecency definition and that are aired between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. are prohibited and subject to indecency enforcement action.

Profane Broadcast Restrictions

The FCC has defined profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”
Do "penis" and "vagina" appeal to "prurient interest"? Not to mine, they don't.

Are they "patently offesnive" sexual terms? Actually, they are the "proper" terms.

Are they "language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance”?

And even if they sound "kinda vulgar" to you, vulgarity is not against the rules unless it reaches the level of "grossly offensive."

Finally, let's remember the words of the late Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, who said, in a decision about pornography, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..."
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  #7  
Old 11-10-2008, 04:28 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Far from being vulgar; I find the words pretty clinical. And my children (2 and 3 years old) know what a penis is -- one of them has one, and they bathe together. In fact, sometimes I wish he would stop talking about it.
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  #8  
Old 11-10-2008, 04:28 PM
Duke Duke is offline
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I was trying to come up with some joke involving a TV commercial for "The Law Firm of Penis and Vagina," but I, ah, came up empty.
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  #9  
Old 11-10-2008, 05:03 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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That's because the very best law firms have three names. Try "The Law Firm of Penis, Vagina, and Goldstein."
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  #10  
Old 11-10-2008, 05:54 PM
chacoguy chacoguy is offline
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This is where 'Va-Jay-Jay' came from; I think that's disgusting.
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  #11  
Old 11-10-2008, 06:06 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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I'm sure Sweeden has some verboten words as well, like "free enterprise" and "freedom".
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2008, 06:52 PM
mobo85 mobo85 is offline
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Originally Posted by chacoguy420 View Post
This is where 'Va-Jay-Jay' came from; I think that's disgusting.
In that case, didn't the censors think they used "vagina" one too many times?
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  #13  
Old 11-10-2008, 06:53 PM
Unauthorized Cinnamon Unauthorized Cinnamon is offline
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FWIW, I swear that in the 80s or 90s Phil Donohue broadcast close-up photos of penises and vulvas, on network TV in a midmorning time slot. They were illustrations of what various venereal diseases can do to you, and thus were about as far from appealing to the prurient interest as possible. And of course they warned the audience ahead of time. Still, I thought it was quite remarkable.
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  #14  
Old 11-10-2008, 08:17 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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You cannot make any rational sense of the restrictions on American tv because the complainers are usually doing so for religious reasons. Not only does this remove any rational basis, but also any consistent irrational basis because our multitude of beliefs and sects have a multitude of behaviors that they consider taboo.

We just muddle along, with the list of banned words and pictures gradually shrinking over the years as religious groups lose their power. To balance that, other words are substituted. Nigger, chink, kike, wop, and other ethnic slurs are probably more banned today than in the past.

Both use and enforcement are inconsistent as well, with time of broadcast, context, and seriousness of use major factors.

Don't try to make sense of American culture. No head can take the strain.
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  #15  
Old 11-10-2008, 09:02 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBlather View Post
I'm sure Sweeden has some verboten words as well, like "free enterprise" and "freedom".
Don't listen to him, we don't really think that.
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  #16  
Old 11-10-2008, 09:12 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unauthorized Cinnamon View Post
FWIW, I swear that in the 80s or 90s Phil Donohue broadcast close-up photos of penises and vulvas, on network TV in a midmorning time slot. They were illustrations of what various venereal diseases can do to you, and thus were about as far from appealing to the prurient interest as possible. And of course they warned the audience ahead of time. Still, I thought it was quite remarkable.
Katie Couric broadcasted the inside of her ass. Strangely, it wasn't really that hot.
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  #17  
Old 11-10-2008, 09:23 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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I don't really know why things are the way they are. You can't show nude human beings above the age of about 18 months on commercial TV, and even in films it's very rare, because the producers want to avoid restricted audience ratings. Even in non porno films intended for adult audiences, bizarrely, the actors stay covered during sex scenes. Right, like most men and women IRL keep their underclothes on when they get it on.

And yet, commercials for impotence drugs are incessant.
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  #18  
Old 11-10-2008, 09:24 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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Where can I see this episode of intercourse on Swedish Big Brother? I would like to see some hottie nords getting it on.
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  #19  
Old 11-10-2008, 09:33 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chacoguy420 View Post
This is where 'Va-Jay-Jay' came from; I think that's disgusting.

Except for on The Soup, where it's hilarious.
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  #20  
Old 11-10-2008, 09:35 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Don't try to make sense of American culture. No head can take the strain.
I think I just found my new signature line. With your permission, of course Sir?
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  #21  
Old 11-10-2008, 10:02 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
Even in non porno films intended for adult audiences, bizarrely, the actors stay covered during sex scenes.
Thus the L-shaped sheet...it goes up to the neck on the woman and up to the waist on the man.
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  #22  
Old 11-10-2008, 10:41 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan View Post
n.b. I'm not saying our way is better, just different.
No, your way is better.
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  #23  
Old 11-10-2008, 11:00 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by Beware of Doug View Post
I think I just found my new signature line. With your permission, of course Sir?
Another acolyte. Spread my words, grasshopper.
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  #24  
Old 11-11-2008, 01:16 AM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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I'm trying not to be annoyed at what seems to be sloppy reading by some posters.

YES, I'm aware that P&V are NOT forbidden words, YES, I know that they are the actual clinical words, the question is how come broadcasters get away with mentioning them in a non clinical way. I'm sure at some point during Friends, Chandler and Joey used the word penis in a jokingly manner.

Now, reading Kunilou's post (thanks) explains a lot. It seems it could be called indecent, hence Viewer Discretion is Adviced by the Metatron.

As to sounding more vulgar - compare these sentences and think that a three year old girl says them:

Mommy, Eddie showed me his peepee.
Mommy, Eddie showed me his penis.
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  #25  
Old 11-11-2008, 03:09 AM
Audrey Levins Audrey Levins is offline
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Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Thus the L-shaped sheet...it goes up to the neck on the woman and up to the waist on the man.
This amuses me.

This and the fact that the L-shaped sheet turns into a toga for the woman when she has to get out of bed.

What woman who's just had sex takes the entire sheet with her when she gets out of bed? And even if she doesn't get out of bed, when she sits up she holds the sheet over her chest...? Like now that the horizontal tango is over, she's as modest as a Victorian maiden?

I wish directors, particularly TV directors, were a little more creative in covering up female bits...just b/c the usual methods are so dorky it's distracting. Put her on her stomach. Do more closeups. Use her knees instead of the sheet. SOMETHING.

Re: the OP, I think TV censorship is both amusing and random, as it is in radio....the song called "Bitch" by Meredith-Whoever came out like ten years ago ("I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother" etc.) and was never edited out out on any radio station I ever heard.

But Katy Perry has a new single out right now wherein she says "You PMS like a bitch" and the "bitch" is ALWAYS edited out on the radio.

Can someone explain this to me?
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  #26  
Old 11-11-2008, 08:04 AM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan View Post
As to sounding more vulgar - compare these sentences and think that a three year old girl says them:

Mommy, Eddie showed me his peepee.
Mommy, Eddie showed me his penis.
In the US, not all television dialogue is spoken by three year old girls. Compare these two sentences and think that an adult says them:

Mona, I just saw Eddie's penis.
Mona, I just saw Eddie's peepee.

Which is ickier now?

Daniel
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  #27  
Old 11-11-2008, 08:06 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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The word "penis" wasn't used much until the Bobbit case. Kind of difficult to describe what Lorna did without using it.
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  #28  
Old 11-11-2008, 08:12 AM
Jayn_Newell Jayn_Newell is offline
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Originally Posted by Audrey Levins View Post
Re: the OP, I think TV censorship is both amusing and random, as it is in radio....the song called "Bitch" by Meredith-Whoever came out like ten years ago ("I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother" etc.) and was never edited out out on any radio station I ever heard.

But Katy Perry has a new single out right now wherein she says "You PMS like a bitch" and the "bitch" is ALWAYS edited out on the radio.

Can someone explain this to me?
No, but you did remind me of the song 'Because I Got High', which I once had the misfortune of hearing a radio edit of. If you have to literally bleep out one word a line, you might wanna reconsider if you really should be airing that.
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  #29  
Old 11-11-2008, 08:14 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Tan View Post
What I don't get is how tv shows get away with using words like penis and vagina.
Thanks to groundbreaking sketches like this one?
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  #30  
Old 11-11-2008, 12:00 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Thus the L-shaped sheet...it goes up to the neck on the woman and up to the waist on the man.
Also the encounter between Leonardo di Caprio and Vera Farmiga in The Departed, in which Leo has his trousers down just barely enough to be able to get his pecker out, as if this were just a routine urination or something. She keeps her panties on and I'm not sure she she's even topless. It's all rather silly.

I should point out to the OP that the movie rating system here is industry-directed, however. It's not through fear of government sanctions that fims are generally so prudish, but through fear of diminished audience due to audience elimination (teenagers), and possible reluctance of exhibitors in some markets (e.g. Salt Lake City) to offer more realistic fare to their audiences.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 11-11-2008 at 12:02 PM..
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  #31  
Old 11-11-2008, 12:51 PM
Westrogothia Westrogothia is offline
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Originally Posted by DanBlather View Post
I'm sure Sweeden has some verboten words as well, like "free enterprise" and "freedom".
Countries with free enterprise and freedom are a dime a dozen. Sweden tho, is the only natural habitat of the free range swedish chick.

You will find sir, that we win.

Last edited by Westrogothia; 11-11-2008 at 12:52 PM..
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  #32  
Old 11-11-2008, 05:53 PM
jackdavinci jackdavinci is offline
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There's a long list of forbidden words. The list varies in length depending on the rating of the particular show, when it airs, on which network it airs, etc. The list also varies by context - penis and vagina as medical terms on a doctor or csi drama are more acceptable than penis and vagina as epithets. "You are such a pussy" is likely to be forboden, yet "here pussy cat" and "look at the lovely pussy willow" are fine. Given any particular list, each year more words on that list become acceptable and are taken off the list. Given all of these variables, combined with the whims of standards and practices, and writers who try to get away with pushing the limits in sneaky ways, 'penis' and 'vagina' may or may not be forbidden depending on what you are watching.
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  #33  
Old 11-11-2008, 06:06 PM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Originally Posted by Charlie Tan View Post
I understand and get the logic about American tv, the FCC and expletives, vulgarity on the public airwaves.
This is possible? Can you explain it to us Americans? Because most of us are stumped by it.
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  #34  
Old 11-13-2008, 03:00 PM
Jelymag Jelymag is offline
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I have absolutely no insight as to why the FCC chooses which words are forbidden and which are not. But I know that at some point in the past ten years or so that "penis" was one of the forbidden. I was recently watching a DVD episode of Friends where the directors were commentating in the background. The scene is Phoebe is letting Chandler know that a girl is checking him out, then walks away and says "I think I'm ready for my penis now." And the directors chuckled and said they included the line because the FCC had just then lifted the ban on "penis."
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