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 Censorship & Scandals

To censor or not to censor, that is the question. Whether is it nobler to let people prance uninhibitedly across the silver screen and TV tube, buck naked and pronouncing all sorts of vulgarisms to the viewing audience or to take up arms against such profanity and promiscuity has been a problem with which Hollywood has always had to contend from its conception.

Starting in the 1930s, when the steamy actions of actress Mae West forced the film industry to create the Hays Code to self-regulate what was to be seen and heard in the movies, to the present days of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that granted state governments the right to decide what is subversive or obscene, the controversial topic of censorship has been ever-present in our society.

When television became a prominent factor in American lives, the networks hired censors to review TV scripts for racial slurs, foul language, nudity and other naughty bits that could be perceived as subversive or un-American.

Ironically, in the 1990s, with the lose of many TV network censors and the lust for more graphic programming themes such as nudity, homosexuality and graphic violence, the traditional boundaries of decency have been pushed back further and further to a point that compared to the 1950s, present day television could be considered pornographic.

The 1970s brought about the free use of racial slurs such as "nigger," "wop," and "chink," on the sitcom ALL IN THE FAMILY/CBS/1971-83.

The 1980s raised to a new height the use of profanity on the cable channels with such foul-mouthed comedy specials as "RAW" featuring Eddie Murphy and the chauvinistic panderings of specials featuring stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay.

In the 1990s, nudity which was the ultimate taboo in past years is freely screened on cable( and videos for private home use) and network daytime soap operas are pushing the limits on the sexual athletics depicted in bedroom love scenes. As Sony and Cher once sang "And the beat goes on..."

The following section highlights examples of the sorts of censorship problems encountered by the networks and the American public.


"Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-nazi or I'll sock you in your Goddamn face and you'll stay plastered." 
--William F. Buckley to Gore Vidal on the floor
of the 1968 Democratic convention aired on ABC

"I was the James Michener of dirty talk. It was the most elaborate filth you ever heard. I mean, there were different characters, plotlines, themes, a motif. At one point, there was villagers..."


                 -- Ross, Friends


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