Friday, September 02, 2005

After All Is Said and Done, Less Is Said Than Done

This event was quite trivial in the big scheme of things, but you may have heard that Fox News broadcast the f-word during its live coverage of Katrina, as reported here. Few people probably cared, but I'm sure that the PTC will continue its campaign.

Speaking of the PTC and the f-word, that reminds me of something I still find amusing. An uncut version of "Saving Private Ryan" aired on Veteran's Day in 2001 and the Parents Television Council (PTC) gave it thumbs up. But when ABC showed the same version of the movie on 11/11/2004, the PTC joined the censorship charge causing many affiliates to probably show "The Andy Griffith Show" or "Billy Graham."

And then I started to wonder about about the history of that monosyllabic word.

From 1980-90, "Saturday Night Live" owned the word. Charles Rocket. Prince. Morris Day. Aerosmith. They all snuck 'fuck' or 'fuckin' passed censors during live telecasts. The only casualty? Charles Rocket. Now very few people care about late-night profanity. The FCC didn't even blink when Colin Farrell said "I shit you not" on SNL (12/11/2004) in the midst of their big censorship hunt of 2003-2005.

But don't worry, Sweet Child O' Mine. The 1990 American Music Awards ushered in a new era of profanity when Guns N' Roses twice squeezed 'fucking' into a live primetime telecast on network TV. And the shit really hit the fan when U2's Bono exclaimed "This is really, really fucking brilliant" during a live telecast of the 2003 Golden Globes. That last event resulted in the FCC report, "How to Dismantle an Atomic F-Bomb."

Here's a short & recent history of famous incidents for 'fuck' on U.S. TV:
  • Mar 5, 1978: 1st on national primetime (''Scared Straight'')
  • Feb 21, 1981: 1st firing (Charles Rocket, ''SNL'')
  • Feb 21, 1981: 1st in song (Prince, ''SNL'')
  • Jan 22, 1990: 1st on network primetime (GN'R, ''American Music Awards'')
  • Feb 23, 1997: 1st scripted show on network primetime (''Schindler's List'')
  • Jun 29, 2000: 1st (mouthed) on morning TV (Bryant Gumbel, ''Early Show'')
  • Nov 11, 2001: Most frequently used (''Saving Private Ryan'')
  • Jan 19, 2003: FCC FUBAR (U2, ''Golden Globe Awards'')
  • Nov 2, 2004: 1st in print: ''fuck this shit'' on t-shirt (CNN, Election Coverage)

    This list is definitely not intended to be a comprehensive log. If you know of other famous events, feel free to add them in the comments section.
  • 2 comments:

    tim toni said...

    in the UK in 1965 on the BBC, theatre critic and author Kenneth Tynan, commenting on censorship, said, "I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word "f*ck" would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden." .. this is the first time the f-word was used on british television ..

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