Search This Blog

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Beeb and the beeps – you can swear by it

Christians are crowing about the BBC’s decision to clamp down on some swearing on air, even after the 9 p.m. watershed. And religion looks like getting a special status.

Gratuitous swearing is never very clever, but I say that not because I’m against hearing the words, but because they simply lose their effect if overused. Carefully placed, the odd F-word can be funny or otherwise effective; used at every verse end, it’s not.

But the Beeb are even planning to beep out taboo words, it seems, when they feel it appropriate – in addition, I assume, to simply not allowing them to be used in the first place in their own-produced material. And, moreover, if swearing is combined with mentions of religious stuff, it’s somehow even worse.

Jesus fucking Christ on a stick! (Sorry – should have beeped that.) This is sheer lunacy. Just how much privilege is religion going to continue to get? And why is religion going to be thus privileged?

Because religious references can offend some people, that’s why.

No. People get offended. Religious people get offended. Because they’re religious. Let’s get it right. No doubt stamp collectors would take offence if their hobby were trashed with jokes and swearing. Owners of Lada cars must have winced when their pride and joy was the butt of jokes. Vegetarians come in for some stick.

Where will this end? Banning everything that can conceivably be taken as offence by somebody?

The watershed is there for a reason. It’s that time when kids are thought to be in bed and away from the telly. In practice, that’s very different, but broadcasters can do only so much. The rest is up to parents.

As for those who take offence, well they can use the watershed, too, and be prepared for an announcement – and there are such announcements – that the following programme contains language that some viewers may find offensive.

Are we to find that the odd F-word is now going to be bleeped out of comedy and movies? It’s done, incidentally, on the UK digital channel Dave, and just what the logic is beats me, because sometimes the participants in, say, Mock the Week (a topical panel show involving well-known comedians, mostly of the stand-up variety, even though they’re sitting down) say the word and it’s bleeped, and in another showing it’s not bleeped.

That illogicality apart, we should really be allowed to make up our own minds.

If thine eye (or ear) offend thee, dear viewer, pluck at the off switch.

1 comment:

truthspew said...

I guess in the UK you have the equivalent of the Parents Television Council here in the U.S.

The PTC is actually a small group. But the thing is the Federal Communications Commission counts each non-distinct contact as a submission. So if you submit 300 times the FCC counts it as 300.

I do notice certain words slipping out in U.S. television shows. One took me by surprise on Modern Family.

I'll be honest by the age of 10 years old I knew pretty much the full repertoire of curse words. So it wasn't like I was being corrupted if I heard one uttered by someone else.

And nice use of Jesus Fucking Christ on a Stick!