Television and it’s hazy grey mist of arbitary

matlockThe other day I was watching a Matlock marathon on tv. There was nothing else on. Nothing that interested me that is. As I watched I noticed a trend. They were bleeping out words. Bleeping out words on Matlock! The words were ‘hell’ and ‘damn’. I thought to myself, “Why are they doing that”? Then I went to the channel guide. I was watching the INSP channel. I had no idea what INSP was, so I googled it. Well, it’s the Inspiration Network. Originally it was the PTL Satellite Network, founded by televangalists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Later it just became the PTL network. When the Bakkers departed in the 80s the PTL call letters were dropped and the network was renamed The Inspirational Network.

Okay, that explains everything.

About a week ago I watched Maximum Overdrive. It was on IFC, the Independant Film Channel. I remember thinking, “They’re really going to butcher this movie”. Like INSP, IFC is just a regular cable channel. It is not a premium channel.
Maximum Overdrive is a Stephen King movie from the 80s. In the movie, machines – mostly trucks – take over. The entire movie is backed by an ACDC soundtrack. It stars Emilio Estevez.
They didn’t butcher the movie. It was unedited. Not one ‘F you’ or ‘mother effer’ was bleeped out.

I didn’t get it.

peggyI love Mad Men. It’s on AMC. Season 6 just ended, so it’s in reruns now. Where I live it comes on at 9pm. When I would watch the show in it’s original run, there were a least 3 ‘shits’ or ‘bullshits’ spoken. It was very generic the way that they were used.
Blah blah blah that’s bullshit blah blah blah. They were almost unnoticable.
I would be like, “Did Peggy just say bullshit”?
When I would watch the rerun of it – usually the next day – the shits and bullshits would be bleeped out.
Why?
Do all of the people who may be offended by that word go to bed a 9pm?
Why is shit acceptable then but not now?
Who makes the shit rules? The network? The FCC? Some ‘you can’t say shit before 9pm mothers for decency’ group? The sponsors? God?

I understand black. I understand white. It’s the hazy grey mist of arbitrary that confuses me.
You can say and do this at this time and on this channel and in this situation, but you can’t say or do this at this time and on this channel and in this situation. It seems to all be dictated by statistics and demographics. Or maybe the morals of the network head. Or maybe somebody who just goes, “Ummmm, yeah, I think it’s okay to say shit 3 times in an hour. Next week the world will probably be sophisticated enough to hear 4 shits in an hours. Let’s add another one to next week’s episode. But, make sure that you bleep it out if it is aired before 9pm. There might be some Church ladies or children watching. They all go to bed before 9 and never hear or say those words. We might offend them”.

TV sure is weird.

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