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Monday, January 8, 2018

Frances McDormand Bleeped at Golden Globes by Cowardly, Nervous NBC

If you were watching the Golden Globes Awards on NBC tonight, you got a bizarre few minutes from Frances McDormand, as she delivered her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.  Though, actually, the bizarre performance was not McDormand's but the NBC censors'.

They apparently thought she was saying "for fuck's sake" when in fact she was saying "Fox Searchlight".  And they thought she was saying something about "shit" when she said "tectonic shift".  So they bleeped her, and also when she said "shyte," which is the way they say shit in some parts of the U. K... but so what?

As is usually the case with these censors, you don't know whether to laugh or cry at their gall and ineptitude.  What right do they have to bleep out anyone's speech?  True, they're not the government, so their bleeping technically does not violate the First Amendment, but it certainly violates the spirit of the First Amendment, not to mention our sense of decency and courtesy.

And a part of the reason there are network censors in the first place is that the networks are afraid that the FCC will fine them, as it did CBS after Janet Jackson's nipple was exposed for a spit-second in some Super Bowl around the turn of the century, or when Fox was fined for exposing a baby's backside - in a cartoon - around the same time.   And the FCC, as a government agency, is ipso facto straight up a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

The other motive for censorship is network concern that bad language might antagonize sponsors.  The rigors of commercial sponsors are one of the reasons that viewers have for two decades now been leaving the networks to watch cable, and, more recently, streaming services.  In their concern for pleasing their sponsors, TV networks have bored their audiences and devolved into a weak shadow of what they were in the early and middle decades of network television.

There was one ad, though, that was welcome in the Golden Globes Awards.  That would be The New York Times' quietly powerful "he said/she said" ad on behalf of journalism and truth.  In this age of Trump more than ever, we need to support the broadcasting of truth, which includes letting people speak when on camera without censorship.

Entertainment Weekly has done the good thing of putting up McDormand's acceptance speech with no bleeps.  Here it is.   NBC owes McDormand and Americans and the world an apology.

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