Media Necessary Profanity
posted by August 7 at 13:30 PMon
Newscat, a blogger out of Washington, D.C., noticed that Slate has begun bleeping out swearwords on its podcasts.
But who is listening to a Slate podcast who is going to be outraged by the occasional swear word? If you are choosing to download a podcast that presumes a level of technical sophistication. It’s not a lot of technical sophistication, but listening to podcasts aren’t quite the same as turning on a radio. You might still be 10 years old but is the swear word really going to be the worst thing you download? (And do 10 year olds download Slate podcasts?) But even for adults there is a degree of thought and choice when one downloads something and then decides to listen to it. You are kind of signing up for what you are about to listen to.
The reason I bring up the 10-year-old example is because I’m trying to decipher who Slate is *not* swearing for? Are they not swearing for the children? Or are they not swearing for the adults? I’m almost more offended by their not swearing than I would be by the occasional “fuck” or “shit” that is let fly. The bleeping of a podcast tends to call attention to itself. It’s marks itself as a deliberate choice of censorship, YOU ARE NOT TO HEAR THIS.
Exactly. As a reader and an adult—and, admittedly, an habitual over-user of profanity—it annoys the fucking shit out of me when newspaper editors and writers step in to protect my delicate sensibility with patronizing phrases like, “the president used a barnyard epithet,” instead of, “the president called the reporter an asshole,” or worse yet, things like “f***,” and, “s***.” Back to Newscat…
There is certainly no reason to gratuitously swear on a podcast just like I could make a blog post that is nothing but swear words. But that wouldn’t exactly make my point or my words all that much better to read. But there’s something priggish about Slate’s editorial decision to pretend its actually going to adhere to the standards of radio. Why? This feels like a decision that was made using old-media as the model and not thinking about the options of choice and selection and audience. I don’t think there’s a phrase that is more patronizing than “family friendly media outlet.” After all, it’s not as if Slate enforces a “no swearing in print” rule either.
If I were setting Slate’s editorial policy on swearing during podcasts, I would use this rule. “Swearing is generally discouraged, but if you use the occasional expletive, please use it sparingly.”
In other words, get to the fucking point without swearing if you can.
Right fucking on.