As parents we have to be very aware of what our children are exposed to, especially in our own homes.
So what would change if there was no censorship on TV?
I think it’s only natural for our first reaction to possibly be that we assume there would automatically be constant f-words and racial slurs, marathons of pornography, and live assassinations and other types of violent, bloody viewings of people losing their lives.
The funny thing is, people who want to see those kind of things are able to watch them any time they want… on the Internet, where there already is no censorship.
But TV is much different than the Internet; TV more controllably directs millions of people to one program at once, therefore making sponsorship a more fickle thing.
There’s this whole concept of “things you can’t say or do on TV” but the truth is, we the people, the free market, are the ones deciding the ultimate standards we see on television.
The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII is the best example I can think of. Yeah, that was the one with the infamous “Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake” incident.
It’s safe to say that the majority of those people who complained were parents who were offended by what the network allowed their children to see on TV.
My best understanding of censorship on television is this:
Each TV network has its own censors, who decide what subject matter is too racy or vulgar to keep them in good standing with A) The FCC and B) their viewers.
In other words, the TV networks are simply making an effort to avoid getting fined and losing viewers, which means they lose sponsors for their programs.
For example, American society has decided that the word “sh–” is too vulgar to be spoken on the major networks, meanwhile, “g.d.” is not.
In fact, this past Friday I watched Primetime: What Would You Do? where “sh–” was bleeped out but “g.d.” was clearly spoken, uncensored.
Even a decade ago, “g.d.” was still too taboo for us to hear on TV without flinching.
But speaking of breaking the 3rd commandment, using God’s name in vain, I think we’ve got things a bit mixed up.
We tend to think of “g.d.” as meaning “curse God” when really it’s the other way around; “God-cursed.” In its worst use, “g.d.” is like saying “God forsaken” because the worst way to be cursed by God is to be sentenced to a state of being where He is not present.
But I think it’s safe to say that none of us are offended by hearing “God forsaken” even though it means the same thing as “g.d.”
Ironically, what isn’t really offensive anymore to hear on TV is when people say “Oh my God!” which seems to be the unofficial catch-phrase of the show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
(I’ve noticed that’s what people yell repeatedly when they enter their new house for the first time.)
To me, “Oh my God” is more offensive than “g.d.” because “Oh my God” is so careless; at least “g.d.” indirectly recognizes God’s sovereignty.
I use this example of “g.d.” to point out this: Obscenity is simply in the perception of the individual, or more relevantly, the majority.
So to answer the question of what would change if there was no censorship on TV, I’d say it would be this:
Many people would be less likely to watch TV, not having a guideline of what to expect.
The flip side is that TV networks would probably be even more conservative on what they allowed on their programs, without having official censors working for them to professionally protect them.
Censorship serves to protect TV networks from losing money, not to protect us from what we don’t want to see or hear.
Otherwise, we’d be more careful to censor the TV ourselves; which is why I don’t watch much on TV to begin with.
No, green slime will not fall on your head if you do, but the censors will bleep the word out, even on Comedy Central: It’s “little people” now.
But when I was a kid in the Eighties, there was no chance of being reprimanded or corrected if you used the “m-word.”
Similarly, the “r-word” is dangerous to use as well. I remember back in 2008 when Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder drew controversy and even inspired a petition that was circulated through Facebook encouraging people not to see the movie because of the way it portrayed those with special needs.
It’s wallpapered in our brains as today’s parents of young children to know that one of the worst things to be in our society is a bigot; any type of person who looks down on or makes fun of other people for being different.
(To be honest, I’m actually a tad paranoid to even be covering this topic today for fear of being misunderstood or misquoted as one myself. What if I ironically make myself look like the kind of bully I am speaking against here?)
And that brings us to another especially unacceptable and obscene term; the “f-word.”
No, the other “f-word,” as well as the “q-word.” These days, when one of your friends from high school officially “comes out of the closet” on Facebook in a status update, you can expect to see a flood of “likes” and “hugs” and “You go girl!” comments, definitely not criticism or name-calling.
As if I needed to say it, I’m glad to see these words become demonized. I like knowing our society is reaching such a state of “bullying awareness.”
What I am seeing about our Millennial generation (born from 1980 to 2000) and our concept of vulgarity is that we’re more offended by slurs directed at minorities of every kind in society; as opposed to cursing and cussing in general.
Interestingly, we’re much less offended by the classic extreme offenders, like “g.d.” or “a-hole” or even the original f-word. In fact, it’s not even a big deal anymore to hear those words spoken on cable TV from time to time.
We’ve heard them so many times that I’m wondering if they actually are profane anymore or if we just pretend they are because it’s what we’re used to thinking.
Here’s what I know. I have a responsibility to teach my son what is and is not appropriate to say, largely based on which words I do and do not say.
It’s not up to the rating of a movie or a TV show, or which words the censors bleep out, or even which words that society deems as offensive for whatever reason.
Since a lot of my son’s future vocabulary is indeed up to me, I will guide him and strive to be the example he needs to see and hear.
I will be that person in my son’s life; to teach him not only how not to hurt others with his words, but also, how to build people up with his words, especially to those who need it the most.
My question is, “Why can’t those one million moms be in control of what their kids watch in their own house?”
Coincidentally, Jim Henson, Co. and the mayor of Boston, as well as at least 4,000 people so far have signed a petition to boycott Chick-fil-A, after President Dan Cathy made a remark in an interview confirming his stance on the traditional model of marriage: one man and one woman.
(For many, that apparently translates as “our entire restaurant chain disapproves of gay marriage and homosexuals in general.”)
That’s right. Sorry, Elmo. No more Chick-fil-A for you.
These similar and yet opposite news stories remind me of a quote by Henry Steele Commager:
“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”
I’ve never been a fan of censorship or boycotting anything. I’d rather let the free market decide. Because it does.
It lasted 6 episodes. No one had to ban the show because mainstream America decided on their own not to watch it; whether deliberately or subconsciously, we’ll never know.
I curiously think about the best case scenarios for the boycotts endorsed by both One Million Moms and those who oppose Chick-fil-A.
If The New Normal ended up being cancelled because enough people didn’t watch it, would it change the fact that homosexuals are still raising children in the real world, whether those gay couples are “legally married” or not?
And if Chick-fil-A suffers greatly as a business because its President opposes gay marriage, will he suddenly change his religious beliefs, even going as far as to open his restaurants on Sunday in honor of same-sex parents?
Imagine the great responsibility of only being able to consume the products and receive the services of the companies and organizations who share and reflect your exact belief system in every way.
So let the people watch The New Normal. If it’s a good show that happens to feature gay parents, like Modern Family, then it will last because people will naturally watch it on their own.
And let the people eat at Chick-fil-A. I personally won’t be participating, but that’s only because I’m a vegetarian.
My son’s pronunciation of words is much limited right now. For example, “cookie” sounds a lot different when it comes out of his mouth. In fact, it’s pretty difficult for me to keep a straight face. Why?
He hasn’t learned the “k” sound yet. And the “oo” vowel sound is more of a short “i” sound.
I’ll put it this way. “Cookie” becomes a word that rhymes with “pity” but starts with a “t” instead of a “p”.
On top of that, when Jack asks for a cookie after dinner, he generally whines for it. Hearing a toddler whine for that is pretty hilarious.
But sometimes, his “k” sound is more of an “sh” sound, making “cookie” another equally censor-worthy word in the land of toddlers.
So either it sounds like he’s upset because he wants to return to the early days of being breastfed or he’s upset because he has a dirty diaper.
Inappropriate and therefore wildly entertaining. Because I evidently I have the mind of a Junior High boy again.
It’s kind of hard not to when your son tries so honestly to ask for a cookie yet is working his way down George Carlin’s list of “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”
I’m guessing every toddler goes through their accidental stage of cursing like a sailor.
According to my mom, back when I was 2, I had this toy 18 wheeler truck that I stored my Hot Wheels in. Evidently I carried it around with me everywhere, referring to it as my “fruck.” Pretty close call for 1983.
Alright, so let me hear it. Tell me about your kid’s unintentional profanities, if you dare.
I always thought that one of the most fun jobs in the world would be to censor R-rated movies for TV. Some of the curse word stand-ins are simply (and deliberately) hilarious. I remember in high school watching the edited-for-TV version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There’s a part where Judge Reinhold’s character gets fired from his fast food cashier job for “using profanity” with a customer: “I’ll kick 100% of your face!”
Another horribly awesome substitution is for Bruce Willis’s signature catch-phrase in Die Hard. It becomes, “Yippee-ki-yay, kimosabi!” In the sequel, it’s “Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!” This is especially funny because there definitely is no character in the movie who is named “Mr. Falcon.”
Curse words both fascinate and bore me at the same time. Cursing is so common now that it holds little shock value anymore; even if we pretend otherwise. And that’s sort of the whole point of cursing: dramatic effect. I believe it is safe to say that traditional profanity is simply losing its edge because of overkill.
In fact, I make a point not to curse both in my everyday language and in my writing, simply because it makes me feel deeply unoriginal.
Besides, why should I let our American society choose the profanity word bank for me? For example, in China, it’s “son of a turtle.” That’s an actual Chinese curse word!
In the likeness of R-rated movies edited for TV, I feel more confident as a human being by using my own profanity- as I soon will demonstrate. But admittedly, as the title of this post conveys, there are plenty of times as a dad where I become pretty tempted to be unoriginal. Good thing I have my creative curse word stand-ins…
1. When my son won’t go to sleep, though he knows and I know that he really wants to and needs to: I think there’s some really popular book out about this very thing… if only I could think of the name of that book. Profanity of choice: ”Ah, shazbot!”
2. When my son gets whiny because I’m not his mom: It’s so annoying that all my wife has to do is pick him up if he cries, and he’s fine. As for me, I have to constantly distract him with a new toy or take him on a walk outside for a change of scenery or injure myself in attempt to humor him. Profanity of choice: ”Smurf it!”
3. The fact that my son has a talent for easily finding and experimenting with the most physically threatening item in his proximity: In a room full of age-appropriate toys, he will dart towards an uncapped ball-point pen or an unprotected electrical outlet that I overlooked. He knows how to find adventure; or as I know it, danger. Profanity of choice: Royal Ruckus!
4. When my son puts up a fight as I change his diaper. Hey, I already have a track record for not changing his wet diapers as much as I should; well, he sure doesn’t inspire me to change my bad habits. Profanity of choice: ”Crash Bandicoot!”
5. Having to pay extra money for something he refuses to eat. Confession: I believe that “baby yogurt” is simply regular yogurt with an extra vitamin or two; just a marketing ploy for first-time parents. I learned my lesson- my son made me waste three bucks on “baby yogurt” that he wouldn’t eat. Profanity of choice: “Pac-Man fever!”