In 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minnow called TV “a vast wasteland”. As bad as the boob tube was way back then, if Newton were to make that statement today, he’d probably call it a half-vast wasteland. It’s infected by boring reality shows, never-ending commercials and the Kardashians. And getting worse.
One of the most shocking developments is the overwhelming glut of obscenity. I served in the Navy in World War 2 and Korea, and heard quite a few curse words. In certain stressful moments, I may have expressed some of them. However, the current trend in using the formerly forbidden words actually does make this old sailor blush.
Most profane these days are the cable network dramas, where cursing has gone about as far as you can go. The programs now vie with each other to see how many obscenities they can spew out per TV minute.
One of the most guilty is “Veep”, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Two decades ago, she was the sweet little Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld.” Back then, she was in many angry situations where cursing could have been appropriate. However, TV standards of the time restricted Elaine’s words to some hecks, darns and drats. And maybe a bleep or two.
This season of “Veep” involves her character, Selina Meyer, ascending to the Presidency. Now, on your favorite cable station, the leader of the free world is spewing out those most shockingly offensive words. Can you imagine if other Presidents had been so lacking in language constraint? For instance:
Would little George Washington have confessed to his father: “I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the ∑£√ÎØ cherry tree”?
Would Abe Lincoln have started his Gettysburg address with, “Four score and seven ∑£√ÎØ years ago…”?
Would Teddy Roosevelt have declared, “Speak softly, but carry a big ∑£√ÎØ stick”?
Would John F. Kennedy have said, “Don’t ask what your ∑£√ÎØ country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your ∑£√ÎØ country”?
Would Ronald Reagan have called out, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that ∑£√ÎØ wall”?
Would Bill Clinton have said, “I did not ∑¶£√ that woman?”