The US still has language restrictions on broadcast programming. They are weaker than they used to be and specific, intended breaches tend to be overlooked (except by the entertainment media) but in general, the four broadcast networks can’t use profanity or other strongly offensive words. Exceptions tend to be confined to late-evening shows, much as I understand they are in the UK.
South Park is on a cable channel that has few if any imposed rules about content; it’s up to them and their distributors to agree on language. South Park’s entire raison d’etre is a cast of foul-mouthed kids, so…
But Saturday Night Live is actually on at night, right? And it’s still “bad” to say “shit”? I must have heard it enough times in American dramas. Is it more acceptable for fully-scripted characters to swear? Or have I probably just seen things exempt from FCC rules? Not living in the US, I only watch American TV if it’s actually good.
Yeah I get that, just thought I’d correct the “50 times or so” mentioned in the OP.
I think you might be unclear on the difference between the US broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and a slate of minor secondary and regional ones) and cable channels. Broadcast channels are sort of assumed to be watched by those of tender years and sensibilities 24 hours a day, so language and content are much more tightly restricted by the moral arbiters and the FCC. (Look at how civilization nearly came to an end when Janet Jackson’s nipple was very briefly displayed in the course of a dance routine.)
The cable channels are largely exempt from such restrictions, although most try to consider their audience and keep language and sexual content appropriate. I think the American dramas you’re admiring are wholly on cable channels and for mid- to late-evening broadcast.
I cop to watching zero “television” in real time and almost nothing from the former slate of broadcast channels, so it’s possible the standards have become more relaxed than I’m aware. But the gist of the above is true - after the great Nipple Flash, the backlash was so strong that even FM stations that had been playing album versions of songs for decades went to radio edit versions. I grit my teeth every time Steve Miller wants no part of that funky kicks goin’ down in the city, or, more relevantly for you, Pink Floyd tells us not to give them that do-goody-good [instrumental fill or bullgarble].
Incorrect, at least in terms of Profanity. Profane language is only regulated between 6am and 10pm, so Saturday night live can curse all they want - the fact that they don’t is simply network or show policy, not FCC.
OK, thanks. I did vaguely know that the FCC doesn’t impose the same rules on cable channels, but I suppose I had never considered that most of the American TV I’ve seen was from cable channels. It’s a bit different here in that the best stuff will usually be on the “normal” channels.
Reminds me of something David Letterman did several years ago. CBS had broadcast, in prime time, “On Golden Pond”, in which one character gives another character the ‘middle finger salute’. Dave was wondering why he couldn’t give someone the finger on his late night show. To demonstrate the hypocrisy and stupidity he pointed his middle finger down at the desk, which was okay with CBS standards and practices. But as he slowly rotated his hand upwards his finger became pixelated on the screen.
I heard that word, and others too, quite a few times on TV on 9/11. But that was understandable.
Radio stations have played the Who’s “Who Are You” with the F-bomb intact from day one. Yes, even in 1978. I had just started high school, and we’d gather around the radio whenever we heard that song, like none of us had ever heard That Word before.
Not all stations do. The classic rock station I listen to in Tucson airs a version that replaces the word “fuck” with a brief silence. They also do the same to the word “bullshit” in Pink Floyd’s “Money”. And don’t get me started on Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing”. They completely remove the verse that starts, “See the little faggot…”
But only on “album rock” stations. The single of “Who Are You” (I have the single on vinyl as well as the album) replaced the f-bomb with “hell”, and it got played on top 40 type stations. I don’t think it was an edit, I think he sang it both ways in the studio. Even now it’s not unheard of for there to be a “radio friendly” version released at the same time.
One of the more amusing instances of “shit” on national TV was in an episode of “Max Headroom.” In the unedited version as originally distributed to the affiliates, Matt Frewer/Edison Carter quite clearly yells, “Shit, that was my favorite blanket!”
When I ran down a (fairly rare) off-air tape of the broadcast, it was roughly snipped of the entire visual leadup, leaving only “…garble favorite blanket!”
No one in the creative crew has ever copped to seeing that edit through to the final cut, but, then, MH threw so many shitballs at the network it’s surprising that one got caught.
Here’s a list of F-bombs dropped on SNL over the years. Most of them passed without incident. The most infamous one was uttered by Charles Rocket in 1980. Shortly thereafter, Rocket, along with producer Jean Doumanian and most of the cast with the exception of Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, were fired. Interestingly enough, Janet Jackson dropped the F-word in 2004, shortly after her “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl half time show.