The title of CBS's new fall TV show is drawing complaints, but hiding that swear word isn't going to protect kids
CBS officially refers to it in print as “$#*! My Dad Says.” In promos, it’s “Bleep My Dad Says” — not “[bleep sound] My Dad Says,” but “Bleep My Dad Says.” And its identifying image, of William Shatner with tape over his mouth, makes it clear this sitcom is well aware of that which cannot be said. It’s shit. As in, the Twitter phenomenon Shit My Dad Says, the thing that turned into the best-selling book “Sh*t My Dad Says,” now watered down even further into a series of nonsensical characters to become a prime-time sitcom on the Tiffany network.
But even the mere suggestion of profanity is enough to set concerned viewers reaching for the smelling salts and threatening to boycott the show’s advertisers. On Monday, the Parents Television Council informed the world that CBS is “on notice,” stating, “Unless or until CBS chooses a different title for this program, we are urging advertisers to avoid sponsoring such an abomination purported to be lighthearted fun.” Bitch, please.
As James Poniewozik observed in his Time blog Wednesday, the outrage seems to be having less effect on advertisers than the apparent banality of the show itself. He further astutely points out that the concern isn’t entirely baseless — and separating adult- and child-friendly content is unenviably challenging when it comes to the title of a show or a movie, as last spring’s tap dancing around “Kick-Ass” proved.
I don’t think life has to be one big potty-mouthed free for all, even if my own frequently resembles a Mamet play directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring a cast of Teamsters who’ve just stubbed their toes. The nuances of audience and intention are key. A person’s ears and eyes – and those of that person’s children – are entitled to the courtesy of reasonable moderation. Yet when I see Dollar Sign Hashtag Asterisk Exclamation Point My Dad Says, I do not think, you haven’t sufficiently protected my family from this “abomination,” CBS! My main concern for my children is that now I have to explain the damn reasoning behind it. Sorry, kids, some people are offended by certain words, so they came up with this bullshit way of symbolizing it without saying it. Which is how my kids wind up learning the word “bullshit.”
In trying to use profanity while not technically articulating it, we wind up in a loophole realm of self-aware absurdity. Just look at the gleeful way programs like “The Daily Show” and “South Park” lavishly throw around the bleep button. That’s not avoiding the words — it’s brattily getting around them, in a gambit as old as a chorus of “Miss Lucy.” What point does a bleep or a series of dashes make, when all it does is dress a word in a sexy, see-through protective layer, the better to be unwrapped in your own mind? Oh, F-word, I know what a nasty little thing you really are when you get together with your last three letters. You are not boinking or canoodling or doing the do, are you? No, you’re the reason nobody ever asks, What the “make love”?
I don’t get ruffled about run-of-the-mill cursing, and I think Goldman Sachs’ recent edict that employees not use cuss words — even if they judiciously throw in the asterisk — is hilarious. (Also hilarious — that the company won’t tell its staff outright what those verboten words are.) But I do understand the tremendous power of words to be truly hurtful and offensive. There are a handful with a long, rich history of demeaning and belittling others, and I don’t have enough hate within me to apply them to anyone else. Yet even then, does it mean they can’t be said?
This summer, the news media’s twisting of itself into contortions to report the content of Mel Gibson’s alleged tirades without coming out and repeating the words he used has been a spectacle unto itself. When I’ve written about the controversy, I’ve used them without equivocation, because they are the crux of the story. And there’s got to be a difference between being the guy who calls his girlfriend a “cunt” and being the person who says, “that guy called his girlfriend a cunt.”
There wouldn’t be much point in having ostensibly naughty words if they didn’t make us feel so good saying them — and if there weren’t anybody around to get pissed off when we do. That’s precisely why CBS opted not to call its new series “Stuff My Dad Says” – where’s the mischief in that? Yet when my daughters sing along with Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” changing the lyrics to “Bleep yeah I’m the mother bleeping princess,” I don’t think I’ve done my job to shield them from foul words. I just think they’ve watched enough television to catch on to the cleverest bad word the English language evolved. I’m not fooled. And as an all-purpose mot juste, “bleep” can kiss my ass.
More Related Stories
- I'm not achieving my dreams!
- The most popular Tumblr porn
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Snapchat is secretly storing your photos
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- When my home was destroyed
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- You are less beautiful than you think
- "Ghetto" tour lets you gawk at New York's poor
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11