I’m watching part of ‘The Usual Suspects’ on the ‘new’ TNN. The movie is so good that ignoring it, even if it is on television is impossible. But I have to laugh at what the censors allow viewers to see but not allow them to hear.
Remember the scene in the garage basement where they are ripping off what they think is jewelry and cash? Kevin McManus (Steve Baldwin) shoots the bodyguards in the head. Blood and brains splatter against the side of a white van. 30 seconds later, Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) shoots Saul right between the eyes. None of this is edited out. All of the violence is there to see.
However, most of the profanity is either silence out making the it sound at times like a skipping compact disc, or is edited with the most ridiculous change. In the original script during the lineup scene each guy is told to read off a card that says, “Give me the keys you fucking cocksucker.” It was changed to, “Give me the keys you fairy godmother.” Can you imagine hardened criminals saying that? It’s absurd, and it’s even more absurd that viewers can watch people getting their heads blown off, but for some reason, we’re apparently not mature enough to hear the word ‘fuck’ unless it’s on a premium cable channel.
Profanity is not always a necessity, but it does lend a sense of realism to characters who come off as people who would use such language. Some cable networks, such as FX are starting to push the envelope with shows like ‘The Shield’ (it’s my understanding that cable stations – not just the premium channels – are not under the same rules and regulations as network channels, but have followed the network standards) and while it was major news when Mark Harmon said ‘shit’ on ‘Chicago Hope’ a few years ago, ‘NYPD Blue’ characters regularly use it. It isn’t a big deal, and I suspect the networks would draw higher ratings as a result.