Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Low Point

We have reached another low point in television history. This weekend, Saturday Night Live aired several utterances of the "F-word" during a sketch about biker women. We here in the central time zone heard it--whereas those in the mountain and pacific time zones had the word edited out when the show aired on tape delay.

I've said before that I am all for freedom of speech and artistic expression as protected under the First Amendment--but can't we try to keep it clean? To the actress involved--Jenny Slate (whom I have never heard of until this weekend)--the use of the word was probably second nature. She likely peppers her everyday conversations with the word--to the point where its as common as "the" or "like"--and as she recited her lines Saturday night, it just comfortably slipped right out. That is why I try to avoid using George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" in casual conversation--because the more you say it off the air--the more likely you are to say it on the air.

And to hear the old "F-bomb" come from a woman on broadcast TV is no real surprise either. Having been on college campuses quite a bit--I can tell you that there are few people who can swear better than co-eds. Of course, they hear so much of it from college guys that you would think profanity is the official language of higher learning nowadays.

I'll be interested to see if the FCC comes down hard on NBC and levies the same kind of fine against them as they did CBS for Janet Jackson's staged "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl--which was just as artistically unnecessary and inappropriate as the SNL sketch. If the fine is big enough, maybe other networks will continue the already too low standards they currently have. But if NBC is allowed to skate on this, get ready for the "F-word" and more in Prime Time Television as well--because the actors and writers on every other show will be thinking "well if they get to say that--then we should be allowed to say that!"

Of course, if this incident is allowed to go without punishment, perhaps the networks can go back to truly "live" broadcasts of sports again--instead of the stupid seven-second delay meant to give censors a chance to bleep out profanity captured on the field or coming from Tiger Woods.


  1. I agree Jonathan. Also, I've noticed much more inappropriate language during the primetime television hours. In shows such as Two and a Half Men and other sitcoms, words are regularly used that I thought were banned from all networks except cable. I can't list the specific words here, but there are 4 or 5 that just aren't suitable for evening television. I'm no prude, but I'm really glad my kids are adults!

  2. It's just another case of liberals behaving badly.

  3. I'm kind of torn on the issue. At one level, I believe words are just words, and are not as important as actions. On the other hand, I see it, as Jonathan says, as another low point in our cultural evolution, very sad that they felt this was some sort of accomplishment. Like a bunch of fifth-graders acting out to upset teacher.

    There is a time and a place for strong language; trotting it out too casually reduces its value for those purposes.