Words and situations they once could say on TV but can't (or won't) anymore

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?

“Hijack a plane.” I think this was popular in the 70s and 80s, when hijacking a plane meant going somewhere fast.

I ran across it in a Nancy Drew book written in the late 70s, and in a post 9/11 world, I was horrified. It’s something I’m sure I said many times myself when I was younger.

Agree 100% with this.

The recent editing of Mark Twain’s masterwork “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn” was an especially loathsome example of this PC correctness run wild, made even worse by the fact that the entire novel portrayed a so-called nigger as the most decent, honorable, upright, steadfast character in the entire book.

Hateful, hurtful, ugly words are only as powerful and degrading as they are allowed to be…

I wish I remember which Hitchcock movie had an early scene in which the female protagonist was happily driving down the road three sheets to the wind–but of course her sexual relationship with the male protagonist was only alluded to obliquely. It impressed me how completely the opposite it was of a modern movie.

As for smoking pot, though, that was a standard feature of every single episode of That Seventies Show.

Dean Martin’s Matt Helm had a martini bar on the dash of his car.

Good point. I don’t think they were ever actually seen holding a joint or a pipe, but it was clear enough, which is how they got around network IIRC.

There’s more prejudice against cigarette smoking: if they have any cigarette smoking characters then the episode probably revolves around a character picking the habit back up after a long time and trying to quit. Michael’s mom on Burn Notice is one of the few smokers on television whose smoking isn’t a plot point.

they still say fag and nigger and chink (and others surely, but I’ve heard all those just this year) on All in the Family Reruns, but on Sanford and Son they don’t say nigger.

That 70s Show was only a few years ago, but it featured the kids getting stoned at least once an episode.

You were horrified by the idea of someone hijacking a plane? Do you go into utter panic if you read the word “murder” or crap your pants if you see the word “catastrophe” too? I better not say “holocaust” or you might die on the spot.

What the heck?

I think you’re missing the point. Imagine if Nancy Drew said, “Golly, Sally, I can’t believe you lost the softball game for us! You just let that other team rape us!” It’s a casual, lighthearted use of a term that has a severe negative connotation that’s kind of horrifying. Although if I read that sentence in a Nancy Drew novel, I’d laugh my ass off.

If memory serves, I think there are scenes like that in both Notorious and To Catch a Thief.

Actually I think you might get the contract to write a new Nancy Drew series for HBO. (“Fucking damn it why didn’t the Hardy Boys mom just make ‘em a handjob instead! The mystery at the Old Mill is bustin’ my balls here, I’ve had to fight off two old pervs and a poison attempt and I’ll bet those two faggots are up there taking rape showers from running out of hair product!”)

In the commentaries to the older seasons of The Simpsons, whenever they show a character’s naked backside, the creators mention that Fox won’t allow that anymore.

I think they’re lying (or exaggerating for effect), as Family Guy has a ton of cartoon nudity and I think The Simpsons still does in recent years too.

Y’know, I’ve heard this, but I never, ever saw any joints, or any smoke. Yet, the gang sitting around the basement, especially, in the “circle” scenes, sure looked and acted wasted.

Oh, there was lots of smoke. Just none coming from the cast. It was all background.

I believe that was the producer’s compromise with Fox.

“We won’t actually show the joint, but we’ll make them act stoned and constantly talk about how high they are!”

Somehow, Fox agreed to those terms.

The 70s Show pilot was more explicit about the use of pot: at least the smoke was coming from their mouths. As I heard it, they made the compromise after the show was picked up.

At one point it seemed as if nudity might be possible. PBS had some plays that included nudity. NYPD Blue had bare male buttocks. I think the networks felt relieved when pay-cable came along and stole the nudity card so they no longer had to worry about writers insisting on playing it.

Cable probably serves as a release for a lot of network pressure. They can always wave the family flag and tell writers that if they want four-letter words/nudity/political commentary/religious commentary/realism/anything that would appeal to Sampiro :slight_smile: they can walk across the street the HBO or Showtime.

Heh, I remember watching an episode of what was it, Manor House? on PBS where a bunch of people are randomly assigned jobs in a 18th century manor house with just the Butler to keep em all in line and there was a shot of one of the hallboys scrambling into pants and a shirt to answer a door where you saw everything. My little 9th grade mind was blown to see full frontal male nudity on PBS at 8 pm.

As long as we’re here, I think the word “rape” was used much more casually in broadcast entertainment, up through about the 1950s. It seems to have been an acceptable element of jokes, though I’m sure the actual crime itself was no laughing matter when it happened.

Also, being tumble-down drunk was endlessly hilarious, apparently. (Cue Dean Martin, stage left, clutching his shot of bourbon and slurring his words.)