It's about time for network TV characters to be allowed to say "fuck," says Gavin Polone at New York. The word is, of course, banned by the FCC on all non-premium cable and network TV channels. But the word is otherwise everywhere — on YouTube videos and Sirius radio programs that are easily accessible to all ages. Plus, network TV is already packed with exchanges that are far more "evocative of a visual image" than any simple four-letter word. The premiere of Two and Half Men saw a naked Ashton Kutcher announce that he just had a threesome; Jon Cryer responds by admitting he spent the night masturbating. On 2 Broke Girls, a missing waitress is heard having loud sex off screen. When her table asks Kat Dennings' character where the waitress is, Dennings replies, "She's coming." Given such crass language, Polone wonders, "Whom are we protecting by not allowing 'fuck' on broadcast and basic cable TV?" Here, an excerpt:
I have worked at FX before and know that they'll let you say shit and ass but not fuck. They have even allowed cocksucker, which is far more graphic and less common in the vernacular than fuck. Why they, TBS, TNT, and other cable networks continue to hold this line makes no sense; I doubt one fewer box of Tide will be sold because someone on Sons of Anarchy says a meaningless expletive that the character would say in the real world. I recently saw a funny and obvious exchange on FX's Louie about anal sex, and FX didn't lose sponsors as a result. How can talking about anal sex not be more obscene than a biker telling another biker to "fuck off"?
So I say to the networks and the FCC, let’s give up the ban on fuck. It makes no sense, and having rules that are obviously silly, hypocritical, and classist undermines the validity of the imposed standards and the body that imposes them.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.