Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid in Total Recall saying “baloney”. Imagine Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas saying “go foul your mother”. Or, imagine Alan Arkin as Senator Hawkins in Rendition saying “muddy things up”. And when worst comes to worst, imagine Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard saying “yippee-ki-yay, my friend”.
Americans are probably too familiar with this phenomenon which to me is something to get used to. I mean, billions of people around the world watch movies on TV and they wouldn’t even imagine Doug Quaid saying nothing but “bullshit” or Joe Pesci saying “go fuck your mother”—in any movie he plays in for that matter. One begs to ask then, what the fuck is wrong with American television?
According to law, free-to-air television has to be curse-free, or “decent”. However, satellite and cable television are not subject to this type of regulation, which is peculiar because 90% of the cable channels I get do indeed censor themselves.
So why do cable channels do it then?
One of the explanations seems to be that advertisers prefer it that way. So cable channels that work for advertisers tend to censor even late-night movies, which makes watching them really, really annoying. I actually stopped watching Die Hard: With A Vengeance the last time it was on because it was simply painful. Then again, there are cable channels that work for the viewer, not the advertiser, and they refrain from censoring themselves. On HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, people talk like people normally talk. The same can be said about Showtime’s Homeland and Californication. The movies shown on Encore are censorship-free, too.
Yes, I deliberately said “people talk like people normally talk.” Because where I’m coming from, people do swear. People say “fuck,” “shit,” “ass” etc. The more passionate a person is, and the more passionately a person tells a story, the more one swears. And that is perfectly normal.
Now I get that the idea behind TV censorship is probably protecting the audiences who find language like that intolerable or unsuitable. Children, for example, shouldn’t be exposed to this kind of language, right? Wrong. Because, first, the fact that they don’t use language like that when their uptight parents are present doesn’t mean they don’t know these words or that they don’t use these words when talking to their friends. And second, because these words are part of the vocabulary, they have been invented for something and why the hell do they exist if we’re not allowed to use ‘em? Besides, wouldn’t it be better if parents educated their children about the usage of expressions like that, so that they’d use these words correctly and in a controlled environment before making complete idiots out of themselves when, for example, saying “shovel it” instead of “shove it”?
There are so many things that are wrong in the world, and so many things happen that shouldn’t. People get murdered, horrible accidents happen, natural disasters etc. Everybody is exposed to that kind of information, even children. And rightly so, because it would be insanely stupid of us not to teach our offspring that the world isn’t perfect and shit happens all the time, no matter how hard we try to prevent it from happening. If we don’t “protect” our children from all the shit that happens in the world, why on earth do we “protect” them from harmless words? Is the human kind really that petty?
Well, if we are, we definitely shouldn’t be.