24 February 2008

(bleep), Lots of (bleep)

Last night, after a rollicking couple hours with the good folks who present the Independent Spirit Awards, we began watching a recent "Great Performances" broadcast on PBS.

This time around it was the recent re-thinking of Steven Sondheim's brilliant-beyond-words "Company," about the inner and outer workings of the minds of a few thirty-somethings in New York.

We love "Company." We love Sondheim.

And now, after watching this broadcast, we hate PBS.

What is the cause of my ire? The blanking out of the second half of the phrase "jesus (blank)" and the reset of the word "bas(blank)."

What the fuck is going on? Why would a company as intellectually driven as PBS cave in to the hysterical crazies who think words can damage minds? Need I mention that this exact same type of thing happened in history with any society in the hands of Nazis and Fascists? In Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy, people were sent to their deaths for the utterances of certain words.

In fact, we just finished watching the really fantastic German film "The Lives of Others" about life in East Germany in the 1980s. There, people disappeared for uttering the wrong words. Is PBS hinting the United States is going that same way? Are they so afraid to allow common utterances to be aired? Does the FCC have that much power?

Let's hope not.

So, first thing this a.m. I went to the PBS "Great Performance" site (link below) and told them what I thought:

"I wish to protest in the strongest
possible terms your censoring
of certain words in your recent
broadcast of "Company" perhaps the
greatest musical to come out of the
20th century. I cannot believe a
venerable institution like PBS
would bow to the outrageous demands
of a few vocal whackos who worry that
the mere utterance of words like
"christ" and "bastard" will forever
corrupt their tiny minds, um, I mean,
corrupt the minds of their tiny children.
How dare you presume to alter something
so wonderful as art of any kind because
of them? I will repeat to you what I
have said to such crazies in the past:
If words offend you, turn the channel.
I can imagine some networks being
cowardly, but never expected to include
PBS in that list. Thank you for your
consideration of the above."

I hope anyone reading this, who is also upset with censorship, will take a moment and do the same. You can contact them here.

Help put an end to such draconian censorship.


Matt (scrubbles.net) said...

Here's my response:

Dear "Great Performances," I loved having the opportunity to see "Company" performed for the first time - but why did you have to silence some of the words? It's like seeing the Mona Lisa with her mouth whited out. Please do not cave in to the right-wing crazies and show the performances the way they were meant to be seen! Thanks. - Matt Hinrichs

Anonymous said...

So in other words, expression of ideas don't have consequences? Seems to me you've forgotten history.

Christopher said...

Anonymous: My posting addressed censoring of words, not the expression of ideas. I would be happy to consider any suggestions you might have of "words" having painful consequences in the larger arena.