Wednesday, June 06, 2007

America... Fuck Yeah!

Sometimes justice does prevail. And no, I'm not talking about that case, but about another very important verdict that's just been rendered on an issue that's close to my heart.

If your kids soon start hearing more curse words on TV, you may have VP Dick Cheney to thank. Though instead of thanking him you may understandably want to tell him to go fuck himself.

This is because a New York appeals court ruled against the government in a broadcast decency case that pitted American broadcast TV networks against the FCC. Broadcasters went to court over immense fines imposed on them for curse words spoken off the cuff, and on live TV, by the likes of Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie.

For their part, the FCC is cursing mad over the ruling. Said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin: “I completely disagree with the Court's ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.”

Watch your mouth, there, Kev, ok?

Among the points made by broadcasters was that ultra-violent Saving Private Ryan was allowed to be aired on commercial TV with all swear words intact. (The movie aired before the Janet Jackson/Nipplegate incident with no problem; after that debacle, fine-shy affiliates refused to carry a subsequent showing of the movie by their network.) How can broadcasters know what's acceptable and what's not after that movie was shown? Moreover, how can they anticipate what people will spontaneously say on live TV? (This is what tape delays are for, idiots!)

The previously referenced comment by Bono was, "Fucking brilliant!" After he said it, there was some issue of whether it was obscene because it was used as an adjective rather than as the noun or verb denoting sexual activity. The standard for obscenity, it has been said, is whether the words spoken refer to "sexual or excretory functions or organs." Give me a fucking break. Those things are natural, though they may not be something we want to talk or think about all the time, or in certain company, or in certain contexts.

Some of us expect musicians, actors and other sleazy showbiz types to have loose tongues. But these folks' naughty words were not the only ones taken into consideration in the court's decision. Verbal no-nos by none other than President Bush ("...get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit...") and Dick Cheney ("Go fuck yourself!") were also considered. I can't hide my amusement that some top Republicants may have actually made it easier to curse on TV. (Come on, consternative base, attack them now like you hypocritically never did when they originally made those vulgar comments!)

From this verdict, broadcasters obviously made their case that obscene content (which can lead to heavy fines for them) is too poorly defined, too subjective and too inconsistently penalized. For once, reason seems to have won out in court. Obscenity has been previously defined, but that definition creates more questions than answers. Who is the "average person?" What is "patently offensive?" Why are sex and scatology considered obscene, but not those damned exterminator commercials that show insects scurrying around while I'm trying to eat dinner?

Indeed, there need to be at least some restrictions about what content hits the airwaves. But FCC policies are no substitute for good parenting and good judgment. These consist, in part, of using the tools available to you to limit your family's exposure to such content; not the least of these tools is your own noggin.

At one time I was actually thinking of suggesting a plan for TV producers to thwart FCC restrictions, if only to spite the efforts of that flawed body. This included:

Using a lot of strong innuendo and euphemisms: There are no curse words in "I'm gonna spank the monkey tonight."

Using clinical terms: "I bet that woman has a nice vagina. I would like to engage in sexual intercourse with her." (Whereas the obscene equivalent of this has probably never been uttered on broadcast TV, this kind of talk would actually make TV racier. Which was my point, if only to raise a virtual middle finger at the FCC.)

Saying "Goddammit" a lot: It's one of the most offensive terms to some people, yet contains no sexual or excretory references. Hence, not obscene.

I don’t get any kind of juvenile thrill from using or hearing profanity; I do, however, strongly resent unnecessary, undemocratic and hypocritical policies prohibiting it. And if I can't stop or influence the people making those policies, I can at least enjoy, in a manner of speaking, fucking with them a bit.

It seems this time the courts have done that for me. But relax, I don't think we'll be seeing Full Metal Jacket or Clerks II on commercial TV anytime soon. (And I don't have cable. Shit!)

20 comments:

Jack K. said...

Keep on truckin' man.

Pete Bogs said...

jack - back at ya!

the.red.mantissa said...

"I bet that woman has a nice vagina. I would like to engage in sexual intercourse with her."

i am laughing .... honestly. at the image this line left in my head .... i somehow can see/hear Data (you know, from ST-TNG fame?) saying this .... haha.

ok. seriously though. love the irony of republicans making profaning easier ...

interesting, all this ... considering the producers/makers of gone with the wind had to pay a fine for that famous last line of the movie .... "frankly my dear i don't give a damn ..."

personally, i find the vulgar recreations of violence for the sake of entertainment far more obscene than hearing someone say 'fuck' or whatever on the tube. that's just me ... oh yeah, and i'm with ya on those creepy insect commercials during dinner .... whats up with that?

Pete Bogs said...

red - I was trying to imagine a Jerry Seinfeld or Ray Romano saying that, but I can totally see Data saying it... those exact words, too...

"Hey baby, once you go gold you never go back..."

she said...

if they are going to allow dancing with the stars in the 8pm family slot, then anything goes.

theres enough technology now to censor at the source. so parents do your jobs.

there is much vulgarity on tv, but its not about the cussin...how about the exploitation of human misery? entertainment tonight comes to mind.

the.red.mantissa said...

ray romano ... i could hear him sayin that ... i could.

hahaha.

exploitation of misery .... oh yeah. think schadenfreude ~ my biggest pet peeve about tv. i ain't got cable neither. and i sorta like it that way. i miss BBC, though.

parents ... just remember the boob tube is not a babysitter. and the best channel's the off channel. most of the time. ;)

Bird said...

i'm with ya she - the explotiation of human misery - in a variety of ways - someone spare me please the agony of American Idol (and why the heck are the news shows - at least the most popular ones- reporting on that????

i must admit, this lib was pleased with the 2nd court of appeals' decision and their use of cheney and bush - oh joy - oh rapture.

i have a fondness for well-placed and adeptly used profaneity. oh gosh - i wish i could effing spell!

flap/flap/f$%#! and away!

Pete Bogs said...

she, bird - exploitation of human misery is exactly the reason behind some of my previous diatribes about reality TV... they love to show people breaking down emotionally even on the commercials... now THAT'S entertainment!(?)

though I will have to check out this pornographic Dancing With The Stars sometime...

bird - amen about American Idol... it's treated like news and given top story/front page treatment... wtf? if I wanted to know about that show I'd watch it... our local Fox affiliate's news is a joke... it's basically an extended AI promo... if this is "news" at all it belongs under entertainment news, not top story...

LeftLeaningLady said...

After reading this post, I had a lot to say, but most of the comments have covered it already. The only thing left is to mention that while those creepy insect commercials freak me out, I am absolutely SICK of the tampon commercials during the dinner hour (news, etc). Can we possibly wait unti my dinner is digested to discuss my menstrual cycle?
Give me a nice, enthusiastic "Fucking brilliant" over that ANYTIME.

Pete Bogs said...

LLL - yeah, those have long been questioned for their appropriateness... I've just always (no pun intended) been amused by those "mother/daughter chat" commercials where mom pulls a box of these things out at some cafe over lunch... do people do this???

she said...

i could be happy seeing the demise of tonail fungus ads and the family of phlegm that lives in your sinus ads.

f*ck what am i saying?

its simple. KILL YOUR TV

Bird said...

yes - kill your tv. i am about to do that - sort of, kind of, a little bit maybe - i am trying to work up the courage to unplug from the cable company. i am a hopeless addict and need help.

is there not a 12 step program for the likes of me? is there no higher power to which i can appeal?

gotta go - reruns of little house on the praire are on. and cnn 24 hour blather. and there's some strange soap opera on the chinese channel and reruns of er are up soon. and law and order - gotta go - time to plug in...

oh - i forgot - all those commericals to watch too!

hah!

Pete Bogs said...

she - I forgot those two spots... they are indeed disgusting...

she/bird - sadly, with technology like TiVo and streaming, on-demand web content, it's only getting easier to watch TV anywhere, anytime... I don't see the problem going away...

but for killing TV - yeah! Elvis did that, right? he saw or heard something he didn't like and fired a pistol at the screen... that killed it for sure...

the.red.mantissa said...

yeah. kill the tv. let's do it. toe nail fungus ... phlegm commercials yeah, they gross me out.

what really irritates me ... yet mildly entertains me is that show supernanny. irritating~the entire concept. entertaining~that people actually let their kids get away with the sh!t that's on that show.

and yeah ... i don't know why AI or its cdn counterpart ... or dancing with the stars ... needs any sort of mention in a NEWS cast! grrrrr. apparently, some misguided twits think that's news.

i personally derive far more entertainment value from cruising thru you tube in search of andy warhol clips, old commercials, and the like. or from watching the snowy (i.e. no reception) channels.

Sanford B. Hines said...

Bogs, can I sleep with Paris? She is out. I want to score!

Pete Bogs said...

sanford - the answer is probably "yes," but you'll have to wait in line...

Aunty Belle said...

Mah ears hurt..real bad.

Pete Bogs said...

aunt b - go wash your eyes out with soap...

Infinitesimal said...

If Bono had said "Fucking Brilliantly", that would have been profane-er?

Pete Bogs said...

contessa - the word is the word is the word... part of speech seems like a detail... it just goes to show how nutty the enforcers are...