Censorship, particularly the bleeping of “bad” words and the blurring of “unsafe” images has always been fascinating to me. There’s something particularly compelling about the idea that it’s okay for a TV show to contain “f(beep) you,” but not the uncensored language. It’s clear to anyone with 1/10th of a brain what has been said. The content is present and the content, to me, is clearly the part provoking the mental reaction. Words and sounds are simply words and sounds, but their meaning is what might elicit response. The human perceptual system, in its development, has gotten extremely good at filling in information lost in transmission. We can understand speech in noisy environments where many of the sounds are masked. A study done several years ago demonstrated that it’s quite easy to read a passage containing words in which all of the letters between the first and last are scrambled.
So, why then is it okay to maintain the content while eliminating a few phonemes? Why is it okay to show nudity with a bar blurring it. I’ve always found it funny that nudity is only nudity when a specific tiny piece is exposed, but when every other piece of skin is visible, it is still within the realms of safe, albeit somewhat racy material.
Perhaps there is no difference, but those who produce content seek loopholes so that nudity and powerful language can be used without penalty. It’s evident that both attract an audience. This phenomenon has been humorously parodied on The Jimmy Kimmel Show (or whatever it’s exactly called) by using the power of the implication of content to make otherwise innocent material seem racy. It’s sort of a culture-jamming approach to exposing the absurdity of this type of censorship by demonstrating that it has the power to generate response via mere implication.
Also, it’s pretty funny…