This is a rant I’m hesitant to start, because I’ll just go on all day about it you let me. But the premier of “Southland” last night brings it to the forefront of my mind.
“Southland” is a cop show. It’s dark and gritty, set in Los Angeles, which as we know is a pretty brutal hotbed of violence. It was a solid premier. Nothing that really blew me away, but pretty good. I guess it’s from the producers of ER, but I didn’t get any of that same intesity that I remember from the first season or two of that show (say what you will about ER, and I only watched it during the first couple of seasons, but that was some gripping camerawork there). But the thing that really ripped me out of the illusion of the show was that they bleeped the swears.
Are they kidding me with this? Really NBC? Either grow a pair and give us perfectly justifiable swears or just tell your writers to write around it. All that beep does is annoy me.
Our culture’s obsession with this “bad word” nonsense is something that’s bothered me for years. Words only have power that you imbue them with. If you choose to be offended by them, that’s fine, but don’t limit someone else’s freedom of expression because of your arbitrary designation. Sure, they should be used sparingly and only to provide maximum impact, but I would give the same advice on any word. I get more offended when people repeatedly say “literally” than if they’re dropping a “fuck” every other sentence. If it’s character-appropriate, there’s no reason not to have them talk that way, and no reason to insult the audience’s intelligence with ridiculous censoring techniques that break the artistic integrity of the production.
And of course there’s the old violence vs sex vs profanity arguement. Showing a teenage kid gunned down in the street is okay but a boob or a stressed out cop saying “shit” is verboten. Guh. Get over it. There’s no such thing as a bad word.
[I should note the exception to this rant – the Season 3 X-Files episode, “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'” – Detective Manners and his self-bleeping was genius. One of the greatest single episodes of television ever produced. But I digress.]