Can’t See the Forest for the Trees Dept: Martha Thomases, co-creator of Dakota North for Marvel Comics, analyzes something we didn’t even notice: The increasing abundance of “shit” on TV. (No, we’re not talking quality here, we’re talking “shit.” Wait, that didn’t come out right either. Uh-oh, neither did that…)
Martha Thomases Is Talking Dirty – by Martha Thomases
They say “shit” on cable now. And “ass.”
And not just pay cable where not only has this been going on for decades, but it’s often a selling point. Need proof? Watch the reruns of The Sopranos on A&E, where they bleep so much that it sounds like having the hiccups is a requirement for being in the Mafia.
I don’t know when things changed. So many people in my daily life say “shit” and “ass” (and lots of other things) on a regular basis that I don’t really notice. This is how people talk in 2012. It’s how people have talked for the last 50 years, maybe longer (my memory is limited to my lifetime).
Still, when Ellen Burstyn said “Shit” on Political Animals. I had to pay attention. I think it’s in her contract that she has to say “shit” at least five times per episode.
Next up, I noticed they say “shit” on Suits, a show I started to watch becauseGabriel Macht struggled so nobly in Frank Miller’s The Spirit that I rooted for him. I don’t think anyone says “shit” in Don Quixote, but if someone did, he would sound like Macht.
I didn’t notice if they said “shit” on Common Law, but they do say “ass.” I wonder if there are rules on the USA Network that you can say one word formerly deleted on basic cable, but not all of them.
All of these shows (except Louie) are on in prime time. Louie is on at 11. So isthe Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but they are still bleeping “shit” and “ass” on that show. I don’t know why there is a difference.
It’s also possible that, on scripted shows, the writers insist that “shit” and “ass” are necessary for the artistic integrity of their work. I’d agree that it’s hard to imagine back-room politics, high-powered law firms, or Los Angeles police departments where such language isn’t used. And the life of a stand-up comedian is an f-bomb waiting to happen.
Ms. Thomases is right as can be. And wait’ll you see her conclusion. (In other words, we really hope you’ll keep reading.)