We all know that (for the USA) there are certain words that get edited or bleeped out. Why are these words bleeped, when in context we know what is going to be said. When does a word pass its non-bleeped status? Chumbawumba made piss tv allowable, and another song made the female dog name allowable (B word). We are all different with what we can tolerate. Who died and made whom ever the Final authority on Profanity? ((Also, do not get me started on Book Censorship, which I ask that we nip in the bud and do not “open” that can of worms, lest this post moves to Great Debates.
We do? The words are not censored for the benefit of “we” who know what’s being said. They’re censored so that four-year-old kids don’t pick them up.
The main reason certain words can’t be used on television is that the network believes said words will offend a portion of their viewers, creating bad publicity which lowers ratings which reduces the amount of ad revenue made from a show. The other reason is mostly related to broadcast(as opposed to cable) televsion, in which the FCC can control what airs because the government ‘owns’ the broadcast bands, and licenses them to TV stations.
The F.C.C. can’t control what airs, but it can set some limitations, such as barring obscene speech (and, since nothing is obscene, this is irrelevant) and restricting indecenct speech (but usually only when somebody complains about it).
Also, the spectrum isn’t owned by the government. It’s owned by the public. It’s administered by the government in trust on behalf of the public.
Also, I believe that it is up to the individual network’s standards and practices departments to decide what is OK and what isn’t. There is not an absolute list of allowable words or subjects, and producers such as Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue) are pushing the limits all the time, so it’s constantly changing.
What is interesting is that this isn’t a hard a fast rule with there being certain things you cannot say. On TV the “rules of taste” for lack of a better term, vary based upon network, time slot, and show performing the act, or saying the word of questionable taste. Fox tends to push this envelope a lot. Highly rated shows like NYPD Blue (in its day) and E.R. got away with saying dirty words, and nudity because their ratings were so high, the network execs would not restrict the producers, writers, and directors of the shows.
As you get later into the evening these rules seem to become relaxed. Saturday Night Live in a 11PM time slot seems to be able to get away with most anything.
Radio seems to work in a similar fashion. Anything goes from midnight to six AM. Some stations even air the unedited versions of songs during this period. I guess the network execs are asleep. There are also certain word combinations that get radio personalities fined. Example,
OK That farmer has a lot of cocks in his barnyard.
Not OK Stop being a cock and give me the clipboard.
The rating system for movies works in the same crazy fashion. You can blow off someone’s arm in a movie and get a PG13, but if fuck is used in the movie the rating goes to R. See the South Park movie for an example of what’s OK to just barely get a rated R movie out instead of NC17. This is a cartoon, how can it be NC17 which usually is an NC17 for frontal nudity.
Just my thoughts,
I thought you could use the F word once and get away with it. Didnt Arnie Shwartzenager (Horrible mispelling) have a film (6th day??) where he only says F once and then continues to say “screw yourself” ?
Not sure, but South park got away that once with saying “Shit” on air a… well, shitload of times.
Late night and with warning MTV played that scared straight program, there must have been “fuck” every other word.
You can say “fuck” in a PG-13 movie twice, but it has to be in two different contexts. “What the fuck?” and “That ratfucker!” would be permissible, “What the fuck?” and “Fuck this!” would not.
I don’t know why.
Bradcast prime-time TV has been crossing the barriers lately. ER brought us the first major network “Shit!” a couple of seasons ago, and picked up this year with an utterance of “You’re an asshole!” which was popularized by the short-lived Stephen Bochco series “Philly” in which someone was called asshole in every single episode of its 22 episode run.
Looks like the damned horse is out of the damned barn. We will eventually get the rest of the “7 words you can’t say” on prime time with viewer warnings to cover the networks butts.
nitpick: didn’t you just contradict yourself? You used “What the fuck?” as permissible and as not…
No, he didn’t contradict himself.
He stated the prohibition was on saying “fuck” more then two times in the same context. The first pair of phrases he gave each used a different context, and each phrase in the second pair was in the same context. Ostensibly, the first pair would be permissible (different context) but the second (same context) would not be.
That the same phrase appears once in each pair is coincidental.