Swearing on television

Today, bad language and swear words are used very frequently and also inflationary on television. It all starts at an early age; teenagers know words that most people have probably never heard of. But where do they learn these expressions? Simply put, it’s the media, mostly TV. An article published last week by the Daily Mail, a British daily tabloid newspaper, states that “A third of television viewers believe there is too much swearing and violence on our screens”. The article further mentions the Ofcom, the regulator for the UK communications industry. The broadcasting watchdog found that around 36 per cent thought there was too much violence shown on TV, while for one in four adults there was too much display of sex on TV.

Talent shows such as X Factor, which has just started with its ninth season in the UK, are to be blamed for an uncontrolled use of bad language. The Ofcom has released a law which forbids the airing of such programmes before 9 pm. If the show was recorded, then the editing team writes “Beeps” over any sort of swearwords. However, there are enough shows that are broadcast live and which have participants using bad language without thinking about it.

Award shows are another example where celebrities make use of bad language on national and international television. There has been some debate about certain incidents on US television programmes in 2002 and 2003 which include singer Cher saying “F*** ’em” on the Billboard Music Awards show, or U2 singer Bono saying “f***ing brilliant” at the Golden Globes. The broadcasting networks had been fined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but the US Supreme court ruled in June 2012 that the networks should not be penalised.

Another study (examined by Mediawatch UK) has looked into box office films of the past three decades and has counted an enormous amount of the f-word, “s***” or exclamations of “Jesus” or “Christ” which offend many people. Bad language is so common in Hollywood films that it seems to be normal to use this kind of language in daily conversation. To name a few examples, the f-word was counted 212 times in the 1990 mobster film Goodfellas, whereas the movie Reservoir Dog used this particular word 197 times. “S***” was mentioned 62 times in a movie called Bad Boys with Sean Penn, and 53 times in Quentin Tarantino’s White Men Can’t Jump.

The following videos show parts of talent shows broadcast on UK television.

Two girls swearing and being violent on a X Faktor audition

Cat Deeley swears on live television


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