A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Morning Post (V.3, #21) - Selective Censorship

My morning routine includes a 25-minute ride on my stationary bicycle.  The time goes by quickly provided I find something interesting to watch on the television. Five to six days out of the week I can switch back and forth between the morning news broadcasts and whatever Turner Classic Movies is showing at the time.  This weekend I wandered one or two channels above on my dial to look in on American Movie Classics.  Both TCM and AMC started out as a no-commercial interruption movie channel in the 90s, but AMC gave up that pretext years ago.   They are now no better than the hundred or so other cable movie channels in America.

This weekend they showed (between commercials for the latest prescriptions for whatever ails us this week) Blazing Saddles.  As we may remember, this was the Mel Brooks parody of the western genre.  We also remember that this was the Mel Brooks film which used the n-word and other racial epithets ad nauseam in a bid to belittle racism.  The language was no problem when it was first released in 1974.  The handy-dandy ratings system (G, PG, R and X) assigned one of these letters to the film which in turn would allow adults to figure out if they could allow little Johnny and little Susie go to the picture show without a chaperone. If memory serves me correctly, Blazing Saddles was given an R rating (Restricted unless accompanied by an adult.) 

Broadcast on television, the language becomes problematic.  The stations which have aired the film over the years have not, to my knowledge, ever sacrificed community standards when airing the film.  They have simply cut any dialogue, words or even parts of a word, and hope no one notices that the actor’s mouth is moving a certain way, but the sound doesn’t come out.  Awkward yes, but overall, the film remains intact.

I did not catch the entire film this weekend, coming in the middle where the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) single-handedly shoots guns out of the hands of the bad guys while perched on their horses.  I did see enough to pay attention to the dialogue.  The n-word, of course, was cut whenever it was spoken, but the exclusion and inclusion of other epithets was curious.  Okay, you cut the colloquial “twat” from Hedley Lamarr’s dismissal of Lili Von Shtupp “you Teutonic twat!”  Yet a few moments later, you allow the term “bull dyke” to be heard? Then later there is Dom Deluise’s line “Watch me, faggots!” heard in living color. Pondering this inconsistency makes one realize that the notion of censorship can be arbitrary.*

After all, beauty and its twin ugly is in the eyes of the beholder.

Make no mistake, society now knows, or society should now know, that usage of these terms in everyday life is unacceptable.  Perhaps this realization started with the release of Blazing Saddles and the widespread acceptance of modern political correctness.  We can never say for sure.

Or are these inclusions/exclusions more telling of society now than in 1974?  Are we now to believe that there are varying levels of intolerance that are still acceptable?  Bigotry towards skin color is totally unacceptable, but do we still get a pass on prejudice towards the gay community as one example?  Is the American WASP culture still that clueless?   Are we still that bad?

Wait, I already know the answer.  This past week, Pennsylvania voters actually approved an amendment to the state constitution outlawing prejudice towards minorities.  I thought William Penn would have outlawed that on day one (1682).  At the national level this past week, President Biden signed an anti-Asian hate crime bill into law.

Yes, apparently, we are still that bad.

(Thank you for reading.  Remember, “Never Give a Saga an Even Break!”)


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

Very true!

May 23, 2021 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Yes, many of us are still that bad.
The march goes on ....

May 23, 2021 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger uptonking said...

For those still clinging to the udders of the orange ogre... these laws will be spelled out phonetically, using giant crayons while Garret Morris does his Weekend Update wrap-up for the hard of hearing. No... not even then will it sink through. Face it. Human beings suck.

May 23, 2021 at 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Concept Capital Group said...

Definitely agree! So true.

May 24, 2021 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

Alas just as bad, if not more so.

May 25, 2021 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Mistress Maddie said...

I got your message Todd. Feel free to call me when you get a chance. I tried to call but got your message. If I'm away from my phone leave a message and ill return your call. I sure hope nothing to serious.


May 28, 2021 at 12:53 AM  

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