Anyone who knows me is aware that I do not swear like a sailor. That doesn’t mean I blush at the dropping of the occasional “F-bomb” or blanche at the mere mention of any off-color topics. It’s simply that after years of radio appearances, doing improvisational theater for kids, and being a parent myself, I’ve learned to censor myself. In no way am I a member of the “P.C. Police” – in fact, I believe as a society we’ve gone way too far in the other direction…
Certainly, as much as I would enjoy it, I would not think it would be appropriate for a show aimed at a children’s audience like “Dora, the Explorer” to go a little blue (which is not nearly as much fun as “Blue’s Clues” going a little Dora.)
Typical Dora dialogue: “Can you get the map out of my backpack? (Long Pause) Get the map… (Longer Pause) The map! (Pause long enough for planets to cool)…” Just once I’d like to hear Boots scream at her, “Get it yourself, you nagging bitch.” How about Swiper the Fox? Each episode, he attempts to steal something from our petulant protagonist, but if she can say “Swiper, no swiping” three times before he grabs hold of his potential plunder, he is defeated, and slinks away dejected, saying, “Oh, man!”
What is that teaching our kids? I can see it now. It’s 4 AM on a dark, unlit city street, and a young college student walking alone attempts to fend off an assailant by saying “Rapist, no rape-y, rapist no –rape-y, rapist no-rape-y!” “Oh, man!” Yeah, that’ll work. We don’t need to expose kids to reality so early in life, but by sugar-coating things to this extreme, we’re not doing them any favors.
Nor should there be any need for the “Movie Info for Parents” section of my local newspaper. This section attempts to “spell out” the reasons that a movie got its rating, which in theory can be useful – after all, not all PG’s are created equal, and there’s a big difference in the level of maturity required to see a film like “G-Force” and the latest Harry Potter – but what is the point of the “review” of “The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3” which criticizes its “bloody point-blank shootings of subway personnel, passengers, and hijackers; rats in the tunnels; strong profanity; brief crude sexual innuendo and a couple of ethnic slurs” as inappropriate for children. Umm... I thought the “R-rating” pretty much covered that one? Didn’t it?
And when networks continue to cave in to the vocal minority who complain over “the graphic nature” of shows like “Law and Order: SVU” and “CSI” – we quickly regress back to the fifties, when the word “pregnant” wasn’t allowed on television, and even married couples weren’t allowed to share the same bed. Political correctness and fear of offending anyone has pushed the arrow way too far in the wrong direction… local news reporters now say things like, “Happy birthday to Nelson Mandela, a great African-American.” Well, that sounds politically correct, until you factor in the actuality that he’s 100 percent African and ZERO PERCENT American and realize how stupid that statement really is.
On a recent rerun of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” they bleeped out the word “hand.” HAND. Hand is apparently “too offensive” for ABC. Of course, it’s not that simple – Ryan Stiles was doing a “hoe-down” – a rhyming game – and used the phrase “his left hand” in a double entendre to insinuate that the body part in question was Drew Carey’s date for the evening. But, come on. You just bleeped out the word HAND and in the process, drew attention to the fact that perhaps something risqué was said, as opposed to either a) deciding not to air the skit at all, or b) leaving it alone (hey, he could have been talking about a hand puppet, right?) and dealing with the one or two complaints that might come their way – far fewer than the amount they are likely to receive now that they’ve aired something “bleep-able” on a “family show.”
The worst example of this ridiculous arbitrariness of censorship in the new age of fear, came while watching a network airing of the film, “The Naked Gun.” In the scene in question, Leslie Nielsen is standing at the base of a ladder that Priscilla Presley is climbing up to grab something off a high shelf. In the uncensored version, as she climbs, he says “Nice beaver!” and she says, “Thank you!” and hands down a huge taxidermied beaver.
Even though we all know what he was really talking about, as far as the actual scene goes, Nielsen was calling a beaver a beaver. So, naturally, on the actual aired network broadcast, Nielsen looks up and says, “Nice one!” neutering the comedy and making the scene completely pointless. What made this ridiculous dubbing hack job all the more pathetic was the first commercial that aired after the scene. “Coming up next after the movie… get ready to laugh with that American classic – “Leave it to Beaver!”
Hey, don’t you mean “Leave it to One”? I thought we weren’t allowed to say that word on television. Well, I’ve got to bleep it to them, they’ve got balls.