Monday, August 9, 2010

[having sex] shatner and taboo vocabulary

Liberman bait:

William Shatner, of all people, stands at the center of television's latest moral battleground.

He's the cantankerous lead character in a new CBS sitcom, "(Bleep) My Dad Says," that is scheduled to air on Thursday nights. Rather than "bleep," the title uses a series of symbols that suggest the expletive included in the book title on which the series is based.

The Parents Television Council last week sent letters to 340 companies that advertise frequently on TV urging them to stay away from the show unless the name is changed. The group argues that the title is indecent.

"Parents really do care about profanity when their kids are watching TV," said PTC President Tim Winter. "All parents? No, but something like 80 or 90 percent of parents. Putting an expletive in the title of a show is crossing new territory, and we can't allow that to happen on our watch" (emphasis & link added).

Note, however, that CBS did not go fully arbitrary with their symbols. There is more than a little iconicity between  $#! and Shit. The dollar sign clearly evokes a capital S and the pound sign # evokes an H (though more of a capital H than lower case h). Would The Parents Television Council be happy were it called '%!@#* My dad Says'?

UPDATE: Ben Zimmer alerted me to the fact that this is old news, see here and here for previous discussions. [having sex] Pullum!

1 comment:

Ben Zimmer said...

Geoff Pullum was on the case a few weeks ago. Also check out Mark Peters' Wordtastic column from a few weeks before that.

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