Monday, August 6, 2012
Unintended F-Bombs On Live TV: Do We Really Still Give A Fuck?
Yes Ron Burgundy is fictional, but are we truly offended when it happens for real?
It was 1972 when comedian George Carlin introduced America to "The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits). That was the same year Home Box Office was launched. In the 40 years since, those words have become mainstream, and have morphed well beyond their literal definitions. Haven't we all evolved as well?
This is truly captured by Bob Knight of all people, in John Feinstein's 1986 acclaimed book A Season On The Brink.
Knight said, "I think that fuck is the most expressive word in the English language. It can be used to express surprise as in, 'Well I'll be fucked!' Or, it can be used to express anger, as in 'Fuck you!' Or, it can express dismay as in, 'Oh, Fuck!'"
I go back to the first word of the title of this weblog, Unintended. What is the context of the word slipping onto the airwaves? Was the anchor upset about a malfunction and some technical system being "fucked up" or was he/she mystified, "What the fuck is going on?"
I personally would issue amnesty to "motherfucker" as well, as long as you take the time to sound out both "R" letters. Otherwise it might as well be preceded by "Your wallet and your keys! Now!" in a B-list Hollywood screenplay.
Although the first thing we learn in broadcasting school is to never curse around a microphone, and we don't want our kids running around using these words, mistakes happen. Apologies are issued. That should be end of story.
If management is going to take some sort of action, they really need to examine intent and also gauge the level of outrage from their viewers.
Was the word meant to demean? "Doug's a stupid, fat fuck!" Or was it meant in the literal sense, you know, as a verb? "Can you believe who Randi's fucking this week?"
If the intent isn't there, then there shouldn't be a punishment. The apology is punishment enough. That and seeing the blunder endlessly regurgitated on outlets like You Tube and TV Spy, who have sections devoted to newscast fails.
At this point a real journalist or columnist would offer "full disclosure," divulging a present or past relationship with the article's subject. On second thought, Fuck it.