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The Insane world of Television Censorship  RSS feed

 
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I flipped on the television last night and spotted The Matrix on TBS. Cool, I thought - I can handle watching a bit of the Matrix while I work on my computer. For the most part, I was just listening to the movie while I did my work. However, when they got to the section in which Neo and Trinity storm the government center, I figured I'd turn and watch so that I could check out all the cool visual effects. However, when I watched that section, something struck me as awfully funny.

To open that scene, Neo is scanned by a metal detector and, as he's strapped to the gills with fully automatic weapons, he makes the alarm sound. He is then approached by a guard who asks him to kindly place all metallic objects into a little basket. At that point, Neo opens his trenchcoat to reveal his assorted weaponry to the guard.

The guard, seeing all of the guns, blurts out "Holy S**t!" However, on TBS, they blurted out the second word of that phrase because, obviuosly, that could offend some people. However, there was absolutely nothing cut out of the rest of the scene in which Neo and Trinity proceed to slaughter a dozen or so men with automatic weapons.

Honestly, which is more offensive? A swear word or people being killed? Sometimes, I just have to laugh.
 
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I saw a similarly bizarre thing on a music channel the other day. In the music video the singer hits a mirror and cuts her hand. The hand is blurred (I can only presume to cover up the "violence"), but the stupid thing is that its blatantly obvious what has happened - the mirror breaks when her hand hits it, and her hand changes from a pink blur to a red blur.

What is more amusing is the whole Janet-breast-revealing thing. If that had happened in the UK, it'd be seen as a fairly amusing mistake and probably shown on several outake-archive type programmes in a few years time - its doubtful that it'd make the news other than in the "and finally" type section at the end. The (over?)reaction in the US to the incident was deemed here to be more newsworthy than the incident itself.
 
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There's an unbelieveably funny cartooon in the Washington Post "Weekend" section called "Tom the Dancing Bug." It's really, really vicious in the zeal with which it goes after its targets.

Anyway, a week or two ago, it took the form of a comic-book strip called "Billy Dare." Billy is a kid somewhere between Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Anyway, in the first dozen panels of the strip, Billy stabs, knifes, blows up, and otherwise massacres tens of adversaries. In the last two panels, Billy parachutes into a park, and on a bench in the park is a woman nursing a baby. The narrator askes her to get out of the panel, on the grounds that "this is a family strip." She quickly gathers up her things and leaves, as Billy beheads yet another victim.
[ May 17, 2004: Message edited by: Ernest Friedman-Hill ]
 
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Originally posted by Corey McGlone:
Honestly, which is more offensive? A swear word or people being killed? Sometimes, I just have to laugh.



I find the swear word more offensive because it is highly unlikely that my daughter will pull out an arsenal and blow up a bunch of security guards but it is quite probable that she will repeat offensive language that she hears on the television.

As far as the Janet Jackson thing goes, I found the entire half time show offensive.

Perhaps it is only when you have children of a certain age that your perspective changes.
 
Corey McGlone
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:


...it is highly unlikely that my daughter will pull out an arsenal and blow up a bunch of security guards but it is quite probable that she will repeat offensive language that she hears on the television...



I'm with you on that one, Thomas, but it still seems odd to me. On some level, the folks that censor television are saying that it's fine to watch one person kill another, yet it's inappropriate to hear one person swear. The comic strip that was pointed out earlier is another perfect example - people have no problem with violence, but the act of nursing one's own baby is consider inappropriate and offensive.

Do the people that make up these rules ever look at what they've done and ask WTF? Oops. I mean WT*.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Corey McGlone:
I'm with you on that one, Thomas, but it still seems odd to me. On some level, the folks that censor television are saying that it's fine to watch one person kill another, yet it's inappropriate to hear one person swear.

The killing is, of course, fake. I can tell my daughter that those people aren't really dead; that the whole show is fake. But I can't tell her that the offensive language is fake!

(Of course, real killing can be seen on the TV news all the time. How many of us haven't seen the Zapruder film, for example?)
 
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Corey: Honestly, which is more offensive? A swear word or people being killed? Sometimes, I just have to laugh.

I do the same -- just laugh. When they were showing the shrapnel-distorted dead bodies of Saddam's sons in morgue on public TV, they really meant it -- it was a decent thing to do, unlike a swear word.

In "Kill Bill", the director is laughing, too. He shows the cut off limbs and heads all over the place, with fountains and rivers of blood, but all you can hear are the repeated beeps when the characters utter the word "shit" in that R-rated movie.

When my wife doesn't understand what drives some people to act as they do, she says, "Is it me or them?". That is, how do you know who is crazy? Well, it is "them" in this case -- they just have that Victorian period splinter in their minds, and it is there to stay for a long time.
 
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

I find the swear word more offensive because it is highly unlikely that my daughter will pull out an arsenal and blow up a bunch of security guards but it is quite probable that she will repeat offensive language that she hears on the television.



True, but I think I'd rather have her talk like a sailor, than to repeatedly be exposed to gore & violence, to the point where it seems "normal".

One other thing I find a little funny in censorship is when the phrase "God-Damn" is used. I always hear it as "<beep>Damn". They delete the "God" & leave the "Damn".
 
(instanceof Sidekick)
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Was it Archie Bunker or Fred Sanford? Said "Goddammit!" and somebody asked him not to swear. He said it's not swearing, it's a prayer: Dear God, damn that thing! I mean He does that now and then (in the Old Testament anyhow) so why can't we point out things that need it?
 
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Back in the days when the US government was planning to demand all TV sets to have a V-chip (V for Violence), a list of criteria was drawn up which would have programs blocked under the chip.

These included such illustrious names as Tom&Jerry (violence, racism), Popeye (violence, racism, foul language), and Donald Duck (foul language).

IMO it's not up to a TV station or government to censor programs like that.
Maybe put up a warning before it starts stating that "may contain violence of strong language" so people can decide not to watch, but that's it.

Airlines clipping aircraft accidents from inflight movies is something else, don't want to upset passengers many of whom are barely over fear of flying as it is...
 
Corey McGlone
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:

Airlines clipping aircraft accidents from inflight movies is something else, don't want to upset passengers many of whom are barely over fear of flying as it is...



Whose genious idea was it to play an in-flight movie with an airplane crash in it in the first place? Fire that idiot and you have no problem.
 
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Perhaps it is only when you have children of a certain age that your perspective changes.



Or of any age, I guess. I didn't realise until I got there myself. I recently challenged my wife over the word 'shat' (as in the past tense of the s-word) when referring to nappies and recommended 'pooped' instead'. I'm hardly a saint, but I was surprised to find myself taking issue to a word one of teachers regularly used in the classroom...

My favourite anecdote involves Ben Elton (English stand up comic/author/writer/all round clever guy). I saw a stand up act he was doing on TV talking about sweak words and beeping them out. He then launched into a series of words that were designed to beeped out, then announced that he just spelt c**t in morse code.
 
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