Social Question

Symbeline's avatar

How does censorship deem what is proper and what is not?

Asked by Symbeline (30633 points ) May 2nd, 2013

So I got this box set of The Simpsons, and in short, here’s the episode I watched tonight. A character called ’‘Sideshow Bob’’ was trying to murder Bart Simpson. Then the family goes into this witness relocation program, where they change identities, so the killer can’t find Bart. Anyways, that’s what the whole episode is about. At the end, they return home after everything is solved, but they forgot about Grampa Simpson. Without his pills, he is now turning into a woman, complete with long hair and boobs.

When I saw this on cable years ago, the grandfather was never featured with any breasts, he just had the long hair. But this box set shows deleted and altered scenes, and this is where I saw the boobs. (or their shape through the grampa’s sweater)

I don’t get it. So a whole episode about murder is okay, but you can’t show boobs? Hell, the beginning of the episode lightly makes fun of homosexuals. Incidentally, there was a really bad Nazi joke thrown in, which has also been deleted from the cable episode. I can understand not wanting to make fun of WWII history. But my guess is that this wasn’t deleted to respect historical events, rather than trying to avoid a wrist slap.

But really, how does censorship work? And is it still on cable? I’m talking about an episode that played in the 90’s. I haven’t watched cable for a hell of a long time, besides The Walking Dead and The Simpsons. I don’t know how it works anymore.

But these are things that I have noticed in the past. Taking out swearing through bleepings or silence, but leaving in blood and violence. Or taking out boobs, but showing chopped heads. Is it still like that? The fuck for? It’s like, show it all or don’t play it at all. Sweet Jesus. Or playing songs in on the radio, but bleeping out cuss words. It’s not like anybody with half a damn brain can’t figure out what the word was.

What criteria must a scene meet before being censored/altered, and what is the intent behind it? I mean, frankly I don’t believe for a second that it exists in order not to traumatize people, nor do I believe it to be some respect driven action towards the exposed source. I think it’s some kind of political thing, where boobs and swearing and whatnot are cut out because it’s closer to real life than things like glorified violence and gore. But then, a lot of people blame things like school shootings on video games or movies. I don’t buy that either, because violence in our entertainment has always been around, and if it influenced us, nobody would be alive in the Western World anymore. However, I have once seen a documentary about African kids who saw American Ninja, and shortly after, a boy killed his brother. But this was in some poor place in Africa where they don’t have any TV’s or movies, and never have had these things. I guess when it’s really new to you, it can fuck you up…but over here?

I know there’s a reason and some methods behind how censorship works. But what is it? How do they decide what to censor, and why? Why are some things acceptable, and others not?

Here’s another thing. I played this game where you have to save your girlfriend from some asshole. She’s tied in a chair with a big metal ball over her head, which quickly drops right as soon as you free her. But this was the American version of the game; in the original Japanese version, atop the girl’s head is a curved blade, not a big metal ball. Why the change? What, getting crushed to death is okay, but sliced in half isn’t? I do not comprehend the logic. But I know there’s some reason. Can someone help me understand?

I hate censorship in entertainment. But in order to properly hate something, it’s always good to learn about it. lol

Thoughts?

Also, I would like to censored.

…dammit.

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21 Answers

augustlan's avatar

What a great question. I will NOT censor it. I hope someone has some info on this, because it’s never made a lick of sense to me, either.

ragingloli's avatar

It is usually based on whether it is for or against the religious or political ideology of ruling elite.
You know how obsessed christianity is with sex and nudity, that is why sex and nudity is being censored.
On the other hand, america was founded on an act of violent treason, thusly violence and murder is seen as a proud part of history, hence it is being largely left alone.
Political ideology and religion.

Seek's avatar

I know you’re Canadian, but the Simpson’s is an American show, so maybe it falls under…

I know it when I see it.

El_Cadejo's avatar

It honestly seems to go by the whims of the FCC. As some may know I do a weekly radio show, when I first started I asked the radio station managers for a list of words that were inappropriate for the air. I mean we can now say shit on late night tv when we couldn’t a couple years ago, we can say ass but asshole is “too vulgar”. Anyway, no such list exists. It’s just if someone deems what is said offensive they can then report it to FCC where they will make a judgement on it.

zenvelo's avatar

The thing about censorship is it is arbitrary. And in the US (Simpsons airs on the FOX network, so it has to meet the FCC Broadcast standards), sex and sexuality are considered beyond the pale, while violence gets a lot of leeway.

That’s the weird thing about censorship in the US – making love is not allowed, making death is everywhere.

ETpro's avatar

It’s entirely based on community standards. What would be perfectly acceptable in France with it’s savoir faire would be outrageously salacious in a Quaker community or among Pentecostal Christians. And things that Christendom would find perfectly acceptable would drive the Muslim world into the streets in throngs expressing violent, riotous reaction.

I share your personal disdain for extremes of violence, blood and gore. I find that far, far more offensive than seeing body parts that all of humanity is born with, or better still, parts about half of them share in common. But I am not the community. And till more of the community I live in adopts my values, it will be just fine to show the grisly details of how a homicidal maniac drools in blood lust as he commits multiple ax murders, but nix to seeing any nasty bits.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Censorship most often involves imposing some group’s notion of what is suitable for everyone else to read , hear or see. It always imposes some arbitrary standards based on a set of biases. I’d rather have warning labels so the consumer can decide if the described content suits them.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@uberbatman You’re exactly right. If something is deemed inappropriate by the FCC media must abide by it or face large fines.

In our radio group, we even have to be careful about running condom ads during the day time hours on our ‘family friendly’ stations.

@ragingloli In a way you’re right because if enough people make a big enough stink about something, it will be taken into consideration.

It’s all about the ratings and what the public wants otherwise, which is important in media companies, because that’s how agencies and clients plan their marketing, and if the gp doesn’t listen, why would they advertise with a particular outlet.

Symbeline's avatar

If America is okay with violence but not sex, then Canada is pretty much the same, as far as I can tell. So I guess what they decide is based on what people are offended by the most, as I assume censorship wouldn’t exist if viewers/listeners hadn’t complained in the first place. Although it also sounds like we’re being told what is offensive and what is not.

@uberbatman I can understand ass being acceptable and not asshole. Ass can be used in a lot of ways, many that aren’t offensive unless someone just finds the word itself offensive. Asshole is strictly an insult though. There’s not much you can do with that word.

@ragingloli Political ideology and religion. Yeah, political ideals was one of my guesses, and certainly some religion has to go into that. But every country has its bloody history, although other than Canada and America, I’m not sure what censorship is like elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that in the UK, it’s a lot more slack. I watch European news programming online, and it’s a lot more graphic and ’‘to the point’’ than Western news broadcasting. And I don’t consider Fox legitimate news broadcasting, but who does haha?

@ETpro I’m not against violence in entertainment. I’m a horror fun, needs me some violence. I just have a hard time understanding why it escapes the arm of censorship.

But through these answers, it makes more sense to me now. There must be some board that decides what is vulgar, offensive and what crosses the line. Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons says that he gets real pissed off when he sees his show play on TV and it has parts cut out. But I guess if he wants the show to keep running, he has to meet the demands. I wonder just how much shit Seth Macfarlane is being told to chop out of Family Guy…certainly whatever board is responsible for American entertainment doesn’t mind fathers beating their daughters, that’s for sure.

Thanks for the answers all.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Symbeline Lawdy, Chester the Molester on Family Guy is hilarious, offensive often, but I can’t help myself when he does his little lisping.

Symbeline's avatar

Haven’t watched that show much, but a lot of what I’ve seen is pretty damn funny.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Symbeline my problem with asshole being censored is that they dont even censor the whole word. They censor just the hole part so ass(beep) like the hole is the offensive bit…
And I get the argument that ass can be used in a variety of ways such as the animal but when you say something like “she’s got a fine ass” its pretty clear what we’re talking about here.

Seek's avatar

@uberbatman I always thought it funny that they bleep “god” out of “goddammit”. It always turns out sounding like ”bleep-ammit”

Symbeline's avatar

@uberbatman Yeah. I’m not advocating the censorship of swearing, and I think it’s ridiculous. Especially half bleep outs. Seems totally pointless. Either say the whole word or don’t say it at all. And whatever they’re talking about, as the point was made already, it’s not like anyone doesn’t know what was supposed to be said. I’m just speculating on why they bleep certain words out and others not, and in what case they can be acceptable or not. But now we know there is no actual list, from what you’re telling us about the radio show.

ETpro's avatar

@Symbeline If you’re wanting to know how censorship makes sense, that’s a whole different question. The only answer I can come up with it “It doesn’t even try.”

Take Japanese porn, for instance. They are not allowed to show penises, vaginas or anal openings. In any photo or film where these parts are visible, they must be pixelated like [NSFW] “this“http://www.cracked.com/article_19098_6-wtf-japanese-trends-you-can-blame-white-guys.html. Even cartoon characters get the pixelation treatment. Probably because of that, to be titillating, Japanese porn often depicts paraphilias like vomit sharing lesbians, coprophagous couples, extreme bondage, torture, tentacle sex, enema scat. All that is OK, just as long as you pixelate the parts we all share. I defy you to make any sense of that.

Symbeline's avatar

I can’t. Lol. I know that Japanese porn is pretty hardcore, and I am aware of how standard porn over there is viewed. Apparently it’s so frowned on, that a lot of video rental places don’t even have a section, unless it’s all that stuff you mentioned, scat, puke, gore. So there’s a pattern going on here…from America to Japan; everything goes, except normal nudity. Although I don’t ever see Western countries allowing those kinds of porns as openly as Japan does.

But yeah, I’m not really out to know the moral basis of how censorship is chosen, rather than the technical issues involved in the selection. Although I suppose I can’t do that without the morality issues. but yeah, it makes no sense

ragingloli's avatar

You forgot the gore.

Symbeline's avatar

I do not believe I have.

ragingloli's avatar

@Symbeline
I was talking to Vegeta ETPro, Sybian

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli Smatter? Didn’t I give enough prominence to tentacle sex? :-0~

ninjacolin's avatar

Tough question

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