The F Word
When is it appropriate to hear “fuck” on US television?
Last night being Halloween, I caught the end of Nightmare on Elm Street on Spike, a basic cable channel that caters for the eternal frat boy. At the film’s climax there is a scene where the main protagonist, Nancy, is locked in her house battling with Freddy Kruger. Having trapped Freddy, Nancy leans out of the window and screams at a cop on the street below, “get my Dad, you fuck!” It makes sense in context: Nancy’s Dad just happens to be the Detective Sgt. who is at that moment across the road investigating the gruesome killing of Nancy’s boyfriend (literally the boy-next-door, played by a young Johnny Depp).
The whole film is very silly and excruciatingly 80s, however, what brought me out of the movie was that Spike had muted Nancy’s use of “fuck”, so that she shouted “get my Dad, you k!” which only highlighted the “fuck” more than if they had left it unedited.
I was watching this at midnight, and only five minutes earlier had been subjected to a geyser of blood belching forth from poor Johnny Depp’s body, as well as earlier seeing a girl being slashed in the chest, I really fail to see at this point what further moral degradation Spike were saving me from by removing a clearly enunciated “fuck”. The Spike TV audience is hardly made up out of wilting wallflowers, it caters for man-children who lap up lowest common denominator, terrorist glorifying shite like Deadliest Warrior: Taliban versus IRA. Now that’s moral degradation.
George Carlin’s seven dirty words you cannot say on television.
On a related note, when I first moved to the US, I saw on TV Live and Let Die. As with all Bond films, the title sequence involves naked women cavorting in silhouette to the title track. However, the TV channel pixellated a nipple that was in silhouette which made me aware for the very first time that there was a nipple in the title sequence of a film I’d watched a dozen times previously. If I failed to notice this nipple as a hormonal teenager – when I was seeing potential eroticism in everything just as a conspiracy theorist sees in everything the malign actions of the Illumanati – then I’d argue it wasn’t that apparent to begin with.