Are you saying I can no longer say “fuck” on American television?

In Education & Science, Entertainment, In The News, Language, Media on May 10, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

(c) House of Representatives

(c) House of Representatives

American television is under attack. In a country whose “First Amendment” principles have been presented as a shiny example to other countries, in a country that has given the world its “American English” and slang, you can not say erection on the air between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. At least according to Rep. Jim Moran (D – Va.).

Erectile dysfunction is medical condition, just like Moran’s grey hair. Some men of his age have grey hair and they can watch ads for hair dye. Similarly, some men of his age can not please their wives of 30 years and need to find out about certain products that would cure the unwanted condition.

Not between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., Moran says. I don’t wanna be telling my four-year old grandson what erectile dysfunction is.

There is something I really do not understand. Many Americans will analyze every tiny thing about their lives and personalities by going to daytime talk shows like Oprah. And yet at the same time the society as such has a problem with talking about human sexuality issues that are comparable to those that are dissected in Oprah.

Meanwhile, it has become court-ruled-illegal to use foul language. For the last few weeks, Craig Ferguson’s mouth has been pixelated whenever he would say the word “fuck” even after 10 p.m. PST.

Chris Hicks of Utah-based Deseret News (why am I not surprised) writes:

In reality, most swearing or sexual innuendo on TV is simply an easy tool used by lazy writers so they won’t have to exert themselves trying to think of dialogue that is smarter or more clever. And at the risk of sounding naive, I believe there are a still lot of viewers out there — young and old — who would enjoy TV a lot more if they didn’t have to worry about the language that might come pouring out during the programs they watch.

Hicks is way off for at least two reasons.

One, we are people and people have emotions. Foul language is used for a reason. If you cut yourself with a knife, you will say Fuck in the privacy of your kitchen, you are not going to say Gee, I seem to have cut my finger with a knife and the red liquid appears to be blood. Fuck, shit etc. are words. If all linguists decide tomorrow that we will start saying “Puck off” and “Zhit”, just to comply with the law, who is going to complain?

Two, if you place your kids in front of your TV unsupervised, then deal with consequences and stop babbling. Kids who need to be explained things they watch on TV should not watch that particular channel, if you are afraid of what they may see. In other words, they should watch Cartoon Network, not major networks with mixed programming.

Be it as it may, censoring advertising that promotes legal merchandise just because you feel uncomfortable about talking about sexuality, is borderline unconstitutional. Similarly, I would start objecting against ads advertising products for the elderly because I want to watch ads with beautiful 20 year-old models, not grandmas whom I find unattractive.

UPDATE: Czech skateboard-and-skate
store used the F-word in its advertising

(c) Titty Twister

(c) Titty Twister

Apparently, a word is a swear word only in the particular native language. This store that sells skateboard and skating clothes, shoes and accessories decided to promote its spring collection by “saying goodbye” to winter in a very unusual way. And I don’t hear “concerned mothers” object against the “choice of words”.


4 Responses to “Are you saying I can no longer say “fuck” on American television?”

  1. Interesting. I’ve noticed exactly the same thing here in Poland. “Fuck” is used freely and not seen as being much ruder than “Damn!”, however, use the word “kurwa” and it’s a whole different story even though both words are essentially identical in meaning and usage.

  2. […] Czech skateboard-and-skatestore used the F-word in its advertising (The Czech Daily Word) […]

  3. Hi Peter:
    You can say fuck on American television as much as you want, but only on certain channels, such as HBO. Traditional channels such as ABC and NBC “bleep” the word “fuck” out but in such a way that you still hear it, but only as “f..k”. Just like the song by Lily Allen “Fuck You” and other songs (the word “whore” in Everlast’s “What It’s Like” is usually bleeped out on radio station here in Virginia). It really all depends on the management. I find it very hypocritical. It reminds me of my experience in a Japanese porn movie theater in Shinjuku, Tokyo, almost 30 years. They were showing an American porn movie with objectionable parts blotted out. There was this blog hovering over those parts. After 10 minutes,I walked out laughing.

    Incidentally, are there any other Czech blogers with blogs in English or other foreign languages in US or other countries outside of the Czech Republic?

    My blog is at (Diary of a Mad Patent Translator).

    Steve Vitek, technical translation since 1987

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