One of the great freedoms unleashed by the internet has been the lack of censorship. While most would agree that the prerogative to write what one feels, is sacrosanct in a modern democracy, it behooves the writer to undertake a degree of maturity for which censorship was once the alternative. Pick up any quality book, or magazine, and you’ll note a lack of profanity within its pages. Editors generally agree that good writers make their point adequately without recourse to what is best described as the more ‘Anglo-Saxon’ of English.
Censorship was originally seen as a means of protecting people from the base and obscene. Lenny Bruce’s problems with the law and four letter words during the 1960’s, perhaps marked the beginning of a battle against censorship that has seen the pendulum swing out of control. Use of four letter words beginning with ‘F’ or ‘S’ are now commonplace, not just in the blogosphere, but throughout cable media. America still pays lip service to its censors by bleeping out expletives, while leaving the viewer in no doubt as to the word being expressed.
The internet is swamped with uneducated, boorish, individuals whose sole purpose in blogging is, it seems, to beat the world record for fitting as many expletives as possible into one paragraph. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to pass over such literary disasters and head for the relative calm of more mature prose, but unfortunately the same cannot be said of the TV media.
In TV land, the casual use of expletives is almost always integrated with cheap humor aimed at intoxicating the basest and most immature of society, who might be better served watching kindergarten programs on PBS.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a perfect example. It intersperses a mixture of intellectual political comment with the basest of humor, designed to stimulate the hormones of small boys cloistered behind the school bike sheds, who seem, for the purposes of this particular program, to have suddenly migrated to the studio audience. From this vantage point, they titter quietly at Stewart’s satirical humor, only to burst forth into insuppressible shrieks and guffaws when the host utters an expletive in confirmation of his political opinions.
It’s not only the Daily Show that produces such an immature reaction from studio audiences in America. Virtually every American comedian utilizes expletives as a guarantee of stage success. in fact, for some, it’s the very basis of their routines.
While, of itself, the expletive is relatively harmless, it takes a truly brilliant comedian to utilize it in an inoffensive manner. In my opinion, only one has ever succeeded in achieving this. His name is Billy Connolly. This Scottish comedian is unique in being able to use the the ‘F’ word in front of an audience of elderly Christian ladies without giving offense.
Connolly’s secret is in making his act funny without expletives, then using them in so natural a manner that it is the joke that creates the humor, rather than the ‘F’ word. Many have copied him; most have failed.
When Sparrow Chat was born, back in 2003, the ‘blog description’ demanded by Blogger was agonized over for some time. Eventually, it was decided upon, and has not changed since. The last line reads:
No obscenities, please – unless necessary to the description of certain politicians and others of that ilk.”
It was never intended as a form of censorship, merely a desire for the reasonably correct use of English in expressing one’s opinion.
Jon Stewart is a funny man. He is also an intelligent human being. Catering to the basest in our society does neither him, nor them, any good.
It’s time we moved out from behind the school bike sheds. It’s time we grew up.
Filed under: Catering to kids