Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
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.
The FCC, The Federal Communications Commission, fined the CBS network a record $550,000; because so many people called in to complain.
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.