I was watching SNL’s Weekend Update a couple of weeks ago and was really surprised when they did a piece on the Westboro Baptist Church yet not only wouldn’t say ‘fags’ but digitally blurred it on the pictures of the signs. I was surprised that this word is currently considered unacceptable on TV even if it’s quoting somebody. Since they had Finn use the word faggy on GLEE last season (for those who don’t watch the show Finn is one of the good guys but had lost his temper at Kurt, a gay character and also a good guy, who was sexually harassing him) I’m guessing it’s not a FCC regulation or anything but a choice, but it still seems odd that they won’t use it considering that Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford were able to use it 35 years ago.
There’s also hesitance to use any kind of racial slurs: they’ll say ‘n-word’ instead of nigger even if it’s a news show directly quoting something. Personally I feel this gives the word more power- same as with fag. It’s interesting that in repeats of Sanford and Son they’ll overdub “the n word”, but Fred’s reference to the “faggoty jacket” a girlfriend gave him remains in place.
I don’t know if they’ve dubbed the All in the Family episodes where Archie says England is a “fag country” or the change-of-pace dramatic scene where he tells Mike about calling a black kid a ‘nigger’ at his school. He also referred to spics, spades, Hebes, Polocks and other racial epithets- no idea if these have been lifted.
Shows rarely have stereotypical minorities anymore either: Asians are going to speak perfect English, gays are usually impeccable dressers but never promiscuous or lisping, and on sitcoms black characters and gay characters and other minorities are more likely to be the voice of reason than the butt of a joke.
It also seems there’s a lot less likelihood to show characters drunk or stoned today. It’s become socially insensitive I suppose. Roseanne and Dan Connor and her sister got stoned on an episode of Roseanne back in the 1990s but while Karen on Will and Grace referred to drug use I don’t think she was ever actually shown doing anything more than taking a drink. I wonder if something like Rollo suggesting he and Lamont smoke the pot in Sanford and Son’s “wild parsley” episode or Barney Miller’s hash brownie episode (which was hysterical) could make it on the air today.
This is on network TV of course; premium gets away with a lot more. And again I think this is voluntary self-censorship, not mandated. What else though has become less likely to be used on TV now than in the past?