Dated censorship policies ignore reality

by Marissa Ochoa

Last weekend I found myself flipping through channels and came across one of my favorite movies, “Bridesmaids.” It was just starting and I was ready for all the laughs. But unfortunately, every great line I anticipated was either cut or bleeped out. I decided to whip out my DVD of the movie and watch that instead. It then occurred to me I was watching the same thing, but uncensored.  [quote]All of the fun in the movie was taken out during primetime TV because of one thing: censorship.[/quote]

It’s always been around. There are certain rules that apply to the broadcasting world that have to be obeyed. Back in 1942, Tweety Bird’s first appearance received a red flag when the character was drawn without any feathers. Even “I Love Lucy” dodged a few regulation bullets by replacing the word “pregnancy” with alternate phrases. When Elvis Presley took the stage in 1956 as a guest performer on “The Ed Sullivan show,” cameras only focused on his upper body. Why? Because his dancing was too provocative for the public’s eye. As decades pass, I’ll agree that censorship did evolve. But even in the new millennia, the Federal Communications Commission is still overstepping its boundaries.

Thinking back to the infamous “nip slip” of Janet Jackson during her 2004 Superbowl performance, I can remember the controversy it caused amongst the public. The “wardrobe malfunction” was seen for about one second, but cost CBS $550,000 to the FCC. One exposed breast created one of TV’s most memorable moments.

Fast forward to 2014, and access to content is much different. Thousands of outlets granting access to any type of content can be found by the click of a mouse. [quote]So now my question is, what’s the point of blocking something that’s easily accessible?[/quote]

The FCC is in charge of the broadcasting regulations in all 50 states. The FCC does have admirable qualities, but one thing I don’t understand is its policy against obscene, indecent and profane broadcasts.

Today’s movies feature more nudity and profanity than ever before. When DVDs come out, there’s often an “unrated version” that releases as well. If all of this is available, why censor it on TV? There’s no difference, yet censorship likes to perpetuate this idea that certain things can’t be talked about or seen by the general public.

Currently, it’s against the law to air any type of program that has profane content. Stations can even be shut down because of this. I can see why censorship was a big deal 50 years ago. TV and radio was just starting out and conservative traditions were still very popular. However, in today’s world, we have the Internet, smart phones and broadcasting taking off. It’s time the FCC loosens the leash and lets the people express their views using whatever language or term they want.

Is society not past the point where F-bombs create uncomfortable environments? Personally, I find it exhausting to make sure I don’t say certain words in some situations. [quote]I have a very colorful language but that shouldn’t degrade or devalue my self-worth. They are just words, or as I like to call them, sentence enhancers, and should be treated as just that.[/quote]

Fortunately, the FCC is making some progress toward alleviating censorship regulations. Just last year, it proposed a change where prime-time TV will be more lenient toward what can and can’t be aired. Many parents were outraged, but I find it refreshing to know the FCC is trying to evolve from the ‘50s era.

What today’s parents forget is that their kids are living in the digital age. This means if they can’t watch it on TV, they will for sure watch it on the Internet. It’s too easy nowadays to find and watch content the FCC wouldn’t dare air on TV. And not that I am a supporter of the desensitization of kids, but if someone doesn’t want their child to hear or watch something in particular, it’s his or her job to monitor that, not the broadcasting world’s.

Even nudity plays a huge role. Censorship is supposed to protect viewers, but the human body isn’t something that needs to be censored. Everyone has seen their own naked body, so it’s not like anyone can be surprised by it.  I’m not saying have genitals all over the screen, but don’t feel the need to run screaming when one does come up. That’s the thing with censorship–it has made all viewers afraid.

Censorship has created a boundary no one is allowed to cross. Anything blurred or cut out is explicit and shouldn’t be promoted in any way. God forbid anyone sees a nipple on screen. That’s supposedly indecent and will taint our youth. But the truth is, there’s so much exposure today that blaming only TV is ridiculous. There are so many new outlets, whether it’s a new app or a new social network, that it’s easier than ever for so-called explicit content to be viewed and shared by anyone. Sooner or later, censorship will no longer dictate what content is portrayed in the media.


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