Monday, January 10, 2005

TV: The bowdlerization of Cheap Seats

I've recently become a fan of Cheap Seats, but I am most definitely not a fan of ESPN Classic's censorship policy.

Hosts Randy and Jason Sklar aren't potty mouths, exactly, but they do use mild expletives which have become all but ubiquitous on any programming other than perhaps Saturday morning Disney cartoons. Like, "ass." Did your face melt and brain explode when you read the word "ass"? My guess is no. But that appears to be what ESPN Classic fears will happen should that word travel unbleeped over their airwaves.

Same with "bitch." In fact, in a repeat I caught this week, "Superdogs, Superjocks" (a competition involving unremembered Olympic athletes and, well, dogs), the word "bitch" was bleeped when it was specifically applied to an actual female dog. That's the word, for crying out loud! That's the proper term! There's nothing even vaguely dirty about it when you use it in its intended meaning! Idiots.

But wait, there's more! ESPN Classic likes to bleep words that aren't dirty in any context, too. In the same show, one of the hosts used the term "crotch-sniffing." Oh no you don't! Not on ESPN Classic's dime! "Bleep-sniffing" is what aired. Wow, that is some cowardly bleep, right there. Later, one of them said of the show, "We've hardly begun to sniff the butt of this thing," and they bleeped "butt." Man alive. Maybe in context, sniffing coupled with butt made the censors jumpy. But come on! This ain't Sesame Street, people! I don't think you need to be that fearful of an FCC fine. You're not showing Janet Jackson's titty, you're saying the word "butt." Have we really come to this, as a country? Has the fear really possessed us to this extreme a degree?

But the capper is when one of the brothers said something sucked, and that got the bleep treatment, too. Dude, that's a word that even those Saturday morning Disney cartoons will say. But not ESPN Classic. "He and the dog basically bleeped." How can you possibly pretend to be a real network* when you're afraid to say the word "sucked," even after midnight?

Grow a set of bleeps, ESPN Classic.

*I'm being generous by presuming someone, somewhere, actually does think of ESPN Classic as a real network.

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