Monday, September 28, 2009

Who Gives a...


Jenny Slate, one of two actors hired over the summer to join the repertory cast, was making her "SNL" debut in the sketch, called "Biker Chick Chat," which aired in the last 20 minutes of the season premiere. Slate and Kristen Wiig played surly motorcycle babes who used the substitute words "frickin' " or "friggin' " in every sentence they spoke.

But when, at about 12:43 a.m., Slate was supposed to say to Wiig, "You stood up for yourself, and I friggin love you for that," she mistakenly said the real f-word instead. Slate made a face -- puffing up her cheeks, basically -- but the sketch went on with no other problems.

Lorne Michaels, the show's executive producer, said from New York late yesterday that the moment was especially traumatic for Slate because "it was literally her first time on the show. There was nothing dirty, just a slip of the tongue. It was 'frickin', frickin', frickin' ' and then boom! The pain that Jenny is going through is, I'm sure, considerably worse than that experienced by anybody who saw it."

Michaels indicated that times may have changed enough since 1981, when "SNL" player Charles Rocket uttered the word, so that the incident may not cause the uproar it did then. He said the NBC switchboard did not "light up" with angry viewer phone calls. And because "SNL" is tape-delayed to the West and Midwest, the word was only heard in the Eastern portion of the country.

...the FCC went wild doling out enormous fines for alleged obscenities during the George W. Bush era, it's believed in some circles that the Obama administration will have less interest in such matters.

The fact that it's ever a concern for the federal government what naughty words are said on television ? There was a recent case FCC v. Fox, where the Supreme Court upheld speech restrictions imposed by the FCC because, in effect, harm is caused by people hearing expletives during certain times of day. To which I say, to quote Eric Cartman (link not remotely safe for work):


What part of "Congress shall make no law..." was unclear? We have Americans dying and being maimed daily in wars overseas--and, in the process, inflicting death and suffering upon others--we have a criminal justice system that incarcerates more than any other nation on the planet (hundreds of thousands of which are imprisoned for crimes against no one, it should be noted) and our government is nearly criminally borrowing money against wealth not yet made by generations not yet born and someone saying "fuck" is somehow important?

I will write more on the supposed decline of civility (e.g., Kanye, Joe Wilson, Serena, etc.) and what it means to American society today soon, but this is just absurd. You can debate the propriety of using terms like that all you like--and there is an excellent and persuasive argument for not swearing--but that anyone would even consider getting the government involved over an uttering of certain phonetic syllables that only offend sensibilities (as opposed to threats or 'fighting words,' for example) is wholly offensive to mine.

The government should stick to what it's good at its job and leave people to their own language choices. I hope Shales is right in thinking that Obama will pull back the reins on the FCC, but I'm not holding my breath.

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