Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dropping the f-bomb

A television columnist for my local newspaper told of hearing John Landgraf, president of FX Network, speak of the famous f-word. He said they don't use it because FX goes out to 92 million homes, not 33 million like HBO, and FX is advertiser driven.

That's scary to me. Advertisers can dictate what it is shown or said on commercial television. We pay for cable TV; if you're like me you're paying over $100 a month, which includes HBO, and yet we're inundated with commercials, at least 16 minutes per hour.

Apparently the recession hasn't hurt the pharmaceutical businesses because they're advertising all over the place, just like usual. You'd think everyone had erectile dysfunction or clogged arteries. They can talk about erectile dysfunction and yet they can tell the network not to use certain words in the programs.

Personally, I like what the creator of one of my favorite shows, Breaking Bad said about the f-bomb. He uses it and bleeps it out. He doesn't believe in using words like "freaking" or "frigging" or other euphemisms. When it's bleeped our minds provide it, whereas it seems jarring to hear a word like "freaking" when you know what they mean but aren't saying.

Years ago I had a boss who never used the f-word, but various euphemisms which made us laugh. We liked his use of "fetching" to mean "fucking." Once I told him if he was worried about offending us by using the real word he wasn't, and he self-righteously proclaimed that "the f-word won't ever come out of my mouth." I told him that by using the substitute word he had the same meaning and as far as I was concerned when he said it I just heard the word "fucking." He said, "Yeah, but you're weird."

Well, maybe. He was my boss, and I was smart enough not to yell after him, "Oh yeah? Fetch you!"

Here's George Carlin and his famous funny rant about words that can't be used on television. He meant broadcast television, of course. Any cable channel can use that language, but then the advertisers would desert them, and we all know that money is more important than free speech.

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