• Can Double Entendres Be Indecent?

    by  • November 15, 2014 • Broadcast Decency, Profanity, Sex, Television, Worst of the Week • 10 Comments

    WARNING: EXPLICIT DIALOGUE AND DESCRIPTIONS

    It’s not exactly unusual for the PTC to criticize Family Guy.  It’s consistently among the most offensive programs on television, and it’s particularly problematic given the fact that it’s animated and consequently naturally appeals to kids.  Much of Family Guy’s most shocking content has been chronicled by the PTC during its run both on this blog and elsewhere in our advocacy.

    This week’s episode of Family Guy broke some interesting and disturbingly offensive ground.

    Rather than all-too-typical uses of explicit language, this episode used double entendre (a double meaning) and the use of would-be foul language and references to aberrant sex acts that supposedly only referred to non-offensive uses of the same words.  To wit:

    Peter: What’s gonna fit in the “Glory”-hole?

    Announcer: In place of “Glory” we will be showing “Shaft,” starring Richard Roundtree.

    Peter: What? You can’t just shove “Shaft” in the “Glory”-hole.

    Brian: Yeah, I know. It’d be better to put in that movie about the two girls who meet Nixon. What’s that movie called? “Dick”? “Dick” would  slide right into that “Glory”-hole.

    Peter: Nah, nah. “Dick” is too short for that “Glory”-hole. But if you also put Edward Furlong’s movie, “Pecker.” You got “Pecker” and “Dick” in the “Glory”-hole and you got a tight squeeze, but it ought to fit.

     

    So, the writers of Family Guy, in their creativity, figured out a way to broadcast that level of offensive language into every living room in the country, while supposedly only referred to names of people and movie titles.  Obviously, references to names and movie titles wasn’t the joke the writers had it mind.

    Had similar language and descriptions been used without the dubious references, this scene would all but certainly constitute a violation of federal broadcast decency law, which prohibits the broadcast of “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities” when children are most likely to be in the audience.

    So what do you think?  Did this episode cross the line in terms of the language and subject matter that was really intended?  Should the FCC consider this a violation of the law?

    If so, it’s an easy process to file a complaint with the FCC.

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    About

    As Director of Communications and Public Policy for the Parents Television Council, Dan Isett is responsible for advancing the PTC’s mission to federal, state and local elected and appointed officials, as well as the Federal Communications Commission.

    10 Responses to Can Double Entendres Be Indecent?

    1. Janice Martin
      November 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      I won’t watch Family Guy because it offends me. It is definitely not for children, and I don’t think it is funny. Why can’t the script be teaching a good moral for living, instead of using implications about sex? Is making money your only interest? Then why not make it something that parents and children can enjoy, instead of using the shock value of words with deviant meanings?

      • Jonathan
        November 15, 2014 at 10:30 pm

        Not everything needs to be for kids and a family to watch. Shows can be for adults as well. I am not a fan of Family Guy at all haven’t been a fan since I started watching South Park. If you can get past the crude humor you will find that pretty much every episode of SP has a message and is normally a satire of the worlds issues.

      • mike
        November 18, 2014 at 6:45 am

        You want educational and appropriate, be a parent and change the channel. Simple. How many channels are there these days? Take you pick. You don’t want something on your TV, you don’t have to have it there. You want something parents and children can enjoy, do what I do, go rent or buy a good family movie, get some popcorn, relax and enjoy time with your kids. There are much worse things going on in the world. Watch the news. The news is just as bad for kids to watch. At least you can tell them things like family guy is fake. Ok my rant is done and I mean no offense. The beauty of this country is freedom of opinion and speech. I respect the intentions of this website, however cencoring what’s on your television is the parents job, not the producers. Thanks.

    2. Arlene
      November 16, 2014 at 7:05 am

      Proper use of the English language and cleverly hiding sexual references is precisely what we want to see… On adult programming.

      As they say at Disneyland folks… “Watch your kids.”

    3. Arley
      November 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      it would be a time better spent if parents regulated their own household rather than try to foolproof the entire world around them. I support the PTC when it’s appropriate and justified. This is not justifiable in my opinion. You are wanting to overstep into censorship of adult programming. Not good.

    4. Clark Bell
      November 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Anything associated with Rupert Murdock has contamination written all over it. Family Guy is so disgusting and embarrassing that I cannot watch it without regurgitating. FCC is in the pockets of those who would like to turn the airwaves into sewers. I pray that something or someone with character will come along and observe that the “emperor has no clothes on” but is so ignorant that they believe their pollution is considered entertainment.

    5. Dana
      November 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Why not? It’s cheaper, makes money, and everyone else does it.

      God forbid they should bring back any programming with quality and variety!

    6. Julie
      November 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Not all adults appreciate the sexual “adult” humor that should only exist on adult programming. Why does all of our sense of humor have to revolve around sex? Is that the only funny thing in this world? And, to all that think we should just change our channels or go out and rent a family movie, let me say that those choices are quite limited – how many times can you watch the same old family movies over and over…there’s nothing new and creative for families to watch together. And why does it have to be a movie? Why can’t there be comedies or variety shows anymore? What happened to the Wonderful World of Disney that used to be on Sunday evenings? Besides, that’s fine if we change the channels, but that doesn’t stop our cable bill from continuing to pay for this smut on television. We still pay for it, no matter what, so it doesn’t matter if we change the channels – people are still getting paid. What we would like to see happen is that these shows aren’t fueled by money making, and they all dissipate. And, I don’t even have kids that all of this is affecting. However, when I have a long, stressful day at work, the last thing I want to see on tv when I come home and try to relax is a bunch of vulgar sexual humor or gory, violent programming. But that has become the majority of my choices, and that stinks.

      • Dana
        November 19, 2014 at 9:49 am

        Bad TV Thought of the Day: Quality and variety are too cost-prohibitive for most every network these days–classic, cable, or network. They have to go through the (past and present) quality programs with a fine-tooth comb, yet they show a constant influx of promiscuity and trash like they’re going out of style!

        For those on Facebook, I’ve created just such a page dealing with this very issue:

        “TV Down the Toilet: The Awful Stuff Between Commercials”

    7. James
      December 1, 2014 at 1:28 am

      You have obviously never read or been exposed to Shakespeare, or I imagine you too would find this offensive.

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