by Jordan Evans
I can say, first-hand, that listening to a certain Ludacris song in which he asks a woman to “move out the way” on the radio doesn’t do the song justice. It doesn’t impact listeners the way it would via Youtube because a good portion of the lyrics simply cannot exist on public airways. Swear words rarely, if ever, make their way onto the radio, and this censorship insults the effort artists put into their products. This issue reaches to other media distribution platforms, too: TV shows and movies shown on broadcast networks lie under the oppressive thumb of censorship.
As an avid fan of the movie Bridesmaids, I’ve recorded it on my DVR for easy access whenever the mood strikes me. Every time I come across a scene where a character’s dialogue has mysteriously been cut off for a split second, I roll my eyes in annoyance. I am seventeen years old, which is old enough to see Bridesmaids in theatres without a parent or guardian present. Yet, TV networks find it necessary to shield me from cuss words that I am legally allowed to observe should I drive down to the theatre. Why does mainstream media have the right to revoke the viewing privileges I’ve accrued as I’ve grown older?
Removing chunks of a script at will inherently ruins the production’s integrity and insults the writers who purposefully utilized that language. If a network makes the decision to air a raunchy comedy, for example, it should agree to broadcast the product in its entirety, sex scenes, rude gestures, explicit dialogue, and all.
Network executives aim to protect younger audiences from the apparent “dangers” of cuss words. The Motion Picture Association of America classifies Bridesmaids as rated “R,” indicating that Universal Pictures markets it toward mature audiences. Foul language in this movie is not likely to traumatize young children because they’re not even the ones watching it. If there is media that parents deem inappropriate for their child, it is the parents’ obligation, not media distributors’, to monitor what the child views.
In reality, hearing swear words doesn’t damage children; they’re just words. I listened to the explicit version of P!nk’s Missundaztood album while on the drive to and from kindergarten, and I’ve grown up to be a respectful, high-functioning member of society. If by chance a child catches wind of a cuss word, it’s not the end of the world. This minor inconvenience to parents is not an excuse to withdraw original content from those mature enough to handle it.
Perpetuating the notion that children are pure and untouched by the world of bad words is naïve and ignorant. Visit any middle school blacktop during lunch and witness the vulgar language that tweens have integrated into their vernacular. Swearing doesn’t affect kids as much as regulations let on; there’s no reason to shield them from words they already know and use. Censorship actually makes swearing that much more elusive, giving kids an encouraging adrenaline rush when they do cuss.
Requiring radio stations and TV networks to warn audiences of the presence of vulgar language lets parents know to steer their kids away from those channels should they choose to do so. This equitable solution not only allows parents to raise their children according to their values but also allows audiences to have access to the unedited content they seek.