JUST SAY THE (BLEEPING) WORD!

 I guess I have to write this. It's Sunday, which means "Ice Road Truckers" will be on later, which means I will once again be thinking about the weirdness of television censorship. "IRT" (as the series is known to aficionados) is the only one of the six thousand TV "reality shows" that I have watched more than once or twice. I don't watch it for the plot - there isn't any; in fact, I defy you to tell one week's show from another. No, why I watch is because every week at the beginning of the show and then in the preview at the end of the show they hint strongly that THIS TIME or NEXT TIME somebody really will put their big rig through the ice and into the lake. In my heart I know it won't happen but....

   But that's an aside; what I really want to talk about is the IRT script - or rather, the lack of script, because very few words actually come through the TV speakers. Here's a typical line from Hugh, the burly "Polar Bear:" (Bleep). I don't (bleep)ing see why I got to (bleep)ing go on that mother (bleep)ing road with that (bleep)ing (bleep)hole when he (bleep)ing doesn't know (bleep) about what the (bleep) he's doing."

   Now, I'm old enough to remember when such dialogue wouldn't have been able to get anywhere near a TV, with or without the bleeps. You know, that same time period when the networks weren't allowed to show a man and a woman (even a man and woman married to one another) together in bed. I guess we were supposed to pretend that only truck drivers, construction workers, and young men trying to  impress their peers said (bleep) and (bleep), and that couples only got in the same bed when they wanted to procreate, not to (bleep). If you're old enough, you probably even remember when a "sex comedy" was one in which a man kissing a woman put his hand on her (bleep).

      But, for better or worse, times change. Primetime "comedies" have certainly progressed (?) in the realm of "sex." And remember when George Carlin did his stand-up routine on the seven words you couldn't say on television? Well, no problem today saying piss or tits in prime time. The others are still presumably taboo, but they really aren't; we've just learned that - as our forefathers learned to say "darn" or "drat" instead of damn, and "heck" instead of hell - "frig," "shag" or "screw" are censor-approved substitutes for (bleep), and the problems with (bleep)  do not extend to "crap" or "bull pukky." Why is that? Nobody is fooled - particularly when, just as Hugh is about to say mother(bleep)er, the cameras home in on his lips and -- if your attention has been wandering away from the screen -- the "bleep" draws you back to the TV just in time.

   And what's it all about, anyway? When nobody talked about sex, then maybe there was some "family value" associated with not assaulting sensitive little ears with such a concept, particularly when described with such a crude-sounding word. I think we're past the "nobody talks about sex" stage, don't you? Besides, fuck (oops! belated bleep) is hardly a sexual word, anymore. It is obvious when somebody talks about a fuc.... ah, let's just say the word! When somebody talks about a "fucking pothole"  or says "fucking miracle;" when you don't "give a fuck" about something; or even when you tell somebody to "fuck off," it is not sexual, and it has nothing to do with morality or "family values." I doubt that it is even offensive to 99 percent of the people who were born after, say, 1970. In truth, it has become just another utilitarian word - and better than some parts of speech because it can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, or (even in the same sentence on IRT) all of the above.

   I'm not advocating the uncensored use of more NAUGHTY WORDS on TV, or in real life. I'm of an old enough age that I don't find it pleasant to listen to "the Polar Bear" or anybody else with such an apparently limited vocabulary. But I see something maybe even a little sinister in the hypocrisy - and extreme weirdness - of labeling some words as taboo, and deciding that some word substitutes are somehow "nicer" or less objectionable than the originals.


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