I just watched an episode of “Crossfire” from 1986 with Frank Zappa as one of the guests. Zappa appeared on the show to defend the first amendment as it applies to artistic expression, and for the most part did a wonderful job. Here’s the video:
I found it quite revealing when Loughton balked after Braden asked him to explain practically how the government could institute laws governing morality or decency. He knew perfectly well that in light of the freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution such a thing would be impossible to legislate, yet he still tried to argue in favor of oversight. Simply disgusting.
Zappa also made some very strong points regarding decency and violence. We get all up in arms if a man or woman appears naked onscreen, or God forbid discuss sex in an adult manner, but for some reason graphic depictions of violence don’t bother us one bit. Answer me this: Why did Mission Impossible III receive a PG-13 rating while Clerks II received an R? Ethan beat the ever-lovin’ shit out of the bad guys in MI:II. There was blood, screaming, shooting, punching, and all other kinds of violence. Hell, Ethan even died at one point. No violence in Clerks. No nudity either, but the characters did talk about sex a lot. Like in every scene. And for nothing more than words the movie got an R rating. If Clerks deserved an R for verbal content, and I believe it did, then MI:III deserved the same rating for violence.
Now, I’m not saying kids should see or hear graphic depictions of sex, but you have to admit that our priorities are out of whack. The morality or decency of words and the shamefulness of certain sexual acts changes with time. Morality and decency are culture constructs and nothing more. The so-called seven dirty words””shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits””are only “bad” because we believe them to be so. The actual words themselves are neutral; it’s the meaning and the shamefulness we apply to the words that causes us to shun them. Explain to me why those words worse than these: feces, urine, fornicate, vagina, fellatio, father, and breasts? And you can’t use the “because I said so” excuse either.
While the meaning of words may change over time, a punch in the face will always be a punch in the face, and it disturbs me that we get all huffy over a bare boobie or a swear word but ignore the beat-downs. It bothers me even further when sanctimonious shit-heads like Loughton or Novak propose to judge what content I can or cannot consume. Who are they to judge what’s decent or indecent? I, for one, think that it’s indecent to storm off-set when things aren’t going your way, but obviously Novak disagrees with me. I think we should censor Novak, howsabout that?