Commentary

No More "Sorry": Let Advertisers And Viewers Decide About Cable's Salty Words

Cursing on cable?  Incredible!  Apologizing for it? Why?

MTV recorded some 100 objectionable/profane words that kept its censors busy during the 2010 MTV Movie Awards on Sunday. Most were muted out. We've come a long way from the profanity-laden incident via comedian Andrew Dice Clay over two decades ago at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards -- after which MTV banned Clay forever.

MTV is supposed to be hip -- so, like it or not, that means getting big-name talent, as well as salty language and racy images to spice thing up. Should MTV's advertisers be worried? If you are advertising on a live MTV event these days, it comes with the territory. This is the same neighborhood as Comedy Central's "South Park," and increasingly a number of basic cable original series on the likes of TNT, FX and USA Network.

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Cable networks have always wanted it both ways: to be edgy, cool, and original when it comes to its programming, while at the same time grabbing those big TV marketers' budgets just like a big broadcasting channel. The latter means acting more like a channel for all-family programming.

At times like these, however, the cable industry seems to be missing out on whatever professional therapy it has been getting, not realizing fully what it really is.

In recent years, MTV lost the new digital/social media battle when it came to MySpace -- now to Facebook and Twitter. It shouldn't want to lose the last remaining area where young folks seemingly go to see big entertainment talent make fools of themselves by dancing in weird outfits, cursing, or offering up the now obligatory girl-on-girl kissing.

I'm sure there aren't any media-buying agencies executives calling up their MTV reps yelling about the profanity on MTV Movie Awards. Things have changed -- and MTV isn't going to be banning scores of major Hollywood talent for their live, unedited remarks.

Decades ago, local community officials were worried about the change that would come when cable entered their communities. Specifically, there were concerns over language, occasional nudity (if not its more serious cousin, porn.)

Now some 30 years later, the edgy, adult stuff on cable comes with an apology. It shouldn't.

3 comments about "No More "Sorry": Let Advertisers And Viewers Decide About Cable's Salty Words".
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  1. Pamela Noga from WJMN-TV3, June 9, 2010 at 2:36 p.m.

    I don't always agree with Wayne; however, in this instance, I think he is right on.

  2. Aaron B. from AnimationInsider.net, June 9, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.

    Gotta love those "unpredictable" live events.

    Adult Swim uses selective self-censoring for much of the programming it airs... perhaps THE BOONDOCKS most famously. While on a related note, TBS continues it's search for self-proclaimed "funny," having also let the n-word fly on their newest title NEIGHBORS FROM HELL.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, June 10, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.

    I have a modest proposal: Make the MTV awards show a low-cost pay-per-view event and provide an edited version the next day on the free channel. That way MTV can make extra money and the viewers can decide if the saltiness is worth the token expense.

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