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TinotopiaLog → American TV and Prudery (21 Jan 2002)
Monday 21 January 2002

American TV and Prudery

On Sunday, I turned on the TV to find that TiVo had, at 2:00 that morning, recorded a showing of Flirting with Disaster for me. It’s a funny movie, so I decided to watch it.

Since it was on the USA Network — “basic” cable TV with commercials and all — I expected some bowdlerization, but what I got was incredibly foul.

Not only had entire scenes been cut (for time as well as content, I have to assume), but a lot of the scenes that were not cut were, well, altered.

In this scene, Mel (played by Ben Stiller) fondles his wife’s clothed breast:

This is apparently too steamy for American TV — even at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday — so it must be blurred.

This — shown three minutes later — is acceptable, however, presumably because it’s an advertisement:

Now, I have no problem with this kind of ad being aired — especially at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday — but I don’t really understand what we’re being protected from in the film if the network is actually selling sex in the commercial breaks. (This frame isn’t really representative of the sex ads that were on; but most of the shots in them were of such extreme close-ups (of forbidden body parts) that they aren’t particularly identifiable when not in motion.)

In this scene, Mel’s wife performs fellatio on him. I’ll admit that this is a bit risqué, but I am puzzled at the blurring:

I’m puzzled because, when the movie was made, the producers were careful to keep all the action, as it were, off the screen. Her head is almost entirely below the bottom of the frame, and what isn’t out-of-frame entirely is hidden by a cleverly-placed stuffed animal. It is this stuffed animal that is blurred in the still frame. The scene was left in, so the idea must be acceptable; it’s the sight that would destroy our innocence. Why the stuffed animal needs to be blurred, I don’t know.

This scene, where Mel gets it on with a Psychologist Not His Wife, can be left totally unaltered:

But this one of Mel changing his son’s diaper has to be blurred because it shows the baby’s wang:

So, if I understand this correctly: Sex as a concept is okay. Philandering is acceptable for television, as is fellatio. None of these ideas are potentially harmful to viewers, as long as they don’t see certain dirty, hateful parts of the human body. Yeeees, well, that’s a healthy attitude.

Posted by tino at 22:52 21.01.02
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I will miss European TV…..heck even in conservative Ireland they don’t butcher movies that much.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at January 22, 2002 06:45 AM

I’m shocked they actually left in footage of Stiller changing his own son. Without the sound, someone could think there’s CHILD PORNOGRAPHY afoot.

Posted by: Nicole at January 22, 2002 01:01 PM