S.G. Browne

What Would George Carlin Think?

I have to admit, I don’t watch a lot of television.  I used to.  As a kid, that was all I would do.

My friends playing outside?
Television.
My mom going to the toy store?
Television.
Ice cream man coming down the street?
Television.

Now, I don’t even have basic cable.  I have basic LIMITED cable, which means I don’t get TNT, TBS, USA, ESPN, ESPN2, Comedy Central, a surplus of 24-hour news channels regurgitating the same crap, or the option to do Pay-Per-View.  However, I do get F/X, TV Land, the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel, and all of the major networks, which is important since the only program I regularly watch is LOST.  And all for the low, low monthly price of $21 and change.

Why is this important?  I don’t know.  But I do know that if I had ESPN, I’d be watching SportsCenter right now instead of writing this blog.

However, I watch enough television to realize how much more you can get away with today than you could when I was a kid.  In addition to the increase in sex and violence, you can call someone a bitch, a whore, an asshole, and a butt pirate, among other names.  You can say someone has balls, has big balls, or needs to grow some balls.  You can even call someone a dick.

“He’s a dick.”
“Don’t be a dick.”
“You’re such a dickwad.”

This never would have made it on network television in the 1970′s.  Probably not in the 1980′s, either.  Maybe the 1990′s, but I think South Park has helped with that.  And just to be clear, I Iove South Park, though I don’t get to watch it on TV anymore because I don’t get Comedy Central.  I think it’s on the WB, but edited, and that’s like watching Goodfellas on TBS.

Anyway, apparently “dick” and “balls” are okay now, though neither one is on the list of seven dirty words George Carlin mentioned in his famous bit about what you can’t say on television, which he originally mentioned in 1972.  Of course, this list doesn’t hold up for pay television.  But for the most part, the words Carlin listed remain taboo today for broadcast television, even if they aren’t officially listed by the FCC, which takes context into account when determining whether use of a word is vulgar or inappropriate.

What I’ve found interesting, however, is that while “dick” and “balls” have appeared with more regularity and acceptance over the past few years, “pussy” and “tits” aren’t given the same leeway. I’ve even seen numerous instances where the words have been bleeped out.

“Don’t be a pussy.”
“He’s such a pussy.”
And pretty much any instance where the word “tits” is used instead of “breasts” or “bosom” or “mammary glands.” (Of course, “tits” is one of Carlin’s seven words.)

In most cases, these words aren’t used in conversations with overtly sexual connotations, so the censorship seems unwarranted.  After all, why is it okay to call someone a dick on network television but not a pussy?  Or to say that someone needs to grow some balls but not that they’re planning to get a new set of tits?  And really, what’s so wrong with saying “tits?” If you can say “ass” instead of “butt,” then why can’t you say “tits” instead of “breasts?”

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I don’t watch enough television to comment on the FCC’s apparent acceptance of the pejorative use of male genitalia in network television conversation while prohibiting the same usage of the female anatomy.

No big deal?  A double standard?  Female sexuality being made taboo?  Do I need to watch more television?

What do you think?

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Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 8:09 am