Internet Might Still Change TV Language

Many stand-up comedians have a "blue" act -- profane-laced bits, targeted for adult humor -- to go along with their clean TV acts.  

Now comes the popular "Shit My Dad Says" Twitter page - in which the title, as well as virtually all posts, contain hefty amounts of profanity. CBS is looking to make a TV show from this blue Internet content.

Here are some selections:

-- "Why the fuck would I want to live to 100? I'm 73 and shit's starting to get boring. By the way, there's no money left when I go, just fyi."

-- "Son, people will always try and fuck you. Don't waste your life planning for a fucking, just be alert when your pants are down."

Some would consider this pretty funny stuff; some might think it rude. But how do you recreate it for the broadcast TV industry, which is still hobbled by Federal Communications Commission rules? It's easier for cable to be blue, since it isn't under the purview of the FCC.



Comedy Central still sells advertising in "South Park," for example -- though the list of potential sponsors is shorter for sure than other shows'. Other raw-sounding cable dramas - like those on FX -- also toss around lots of language that would make the heads of executives in broadcast network's standard and practices offices spin.

Broadcasters still keep moving the line, much to the chagrin of TV pressure groups. But in reality, FCC rules haven't changed that much when it comes to language.

Many might say that Dr. Gregory House of Fox' "House" is a foul-mouthed, frank-speaking physician. But the truth is, he's never used any profanity on the show. But no doubt viewers believe he has.

There are creative ways of getting around FCC rules. CBS will, for starters, absolutely change the title ("Crap My Father Says"?) And surely, content issues will push CBS from airing it far away from the so-called early evening "family hour."

Spurred on by the digital age, broadcasters are continually broadening their base of where to find the next TV hits.

ShitMyDadSays has a nice base - some 762,000 followers. At its core is adult language from, say, a 73-year-old dad, who, far into his golden years, believes he can say whatever he wants.

That would seem to be a problem for broadcast TV. Then again, people said the same thing about the Archie Bunker character appearing on CBS a generation ago.

Many cable networks can add any level of profanity into their shows. But most choose not to, in order to align themselves with major TV advertisers who spend heavily with broadcast networks.

Still, shows like "Saving Grace" on TNT loosely sprinkle in rough language from time to time. But this Twitter page isn't about cursing as a condiment -- it's the main course.

CBS will need to change many ingredients. But will the final dish taste the same?

7 comments about "Internet Might Still Change TV Language".
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  1. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, November 13, 2009 at 10:53 a.m.

    I'm guessing "Stuff My Dad Says" is the sanitized CBS title.

    Anybody who hasn't checked out the twitter feed, fyi, definitely should. It's hilarious.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 13, 2009 at 12:38 p.m.

    1. That wasn't funny, profanity be damned. 2. It will depend upon a story. Bad stories, bad shows. (OK, include direction and delivery.) If one cannot tell a story without profanity, then there is no story. 3. Anyone who has dealt or deals with Alzheimer or Dementia patients learn to laugh at some of the outrageous words to spare the sadness. Archie Bunker did not have those debilitating illnesses. 4. There's nothing better they can produce? Talk about tight budgets. Shakespeare could have never been paid enough.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 13, 2009 at 12:39 p.m.

    PS: How many times does it take to prove moving something in blurbs on line does not translate or is profitable to TV. Lighting cigars with thousand dollar bills again?

  4. NEVA BRYAN, November 13, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    What's the point?

  5. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., November 13, 2009 at 3:18 p.m.

    "But will the final dish taste the same?" - Nah, it's broadcast, it'll taste like shit.

  6. Peter Brown from Quarry Integrated Communications, November 13, 2009 at 3:53 p.m.

    You've missed another innovative technique employed by the makers of Southland, the former NBC drama that has now been sold to TNT. They used profanity, but then bleeped it out. Whatever you think of the merits of the show, the bleeps certainly gave it a more adult, movie-adapted-for-TV feel. At least it was an improvement on hard-as-nails cops using euphemisms in situations where we know they would swear.

  7. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 14, 2009 at 8:44 a.m.

    Inappropriate language aside, the Internet has already changed the language of TV. Twenty years ago, media observers reserved the use of the word "web" as shortform for "network," as in broadcast network. Now the "web" has a different dominant meaning and that should be telling for the future of over-the-air signals that are "invited into the living room" where Grandma and the little kids sit.

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