My good friend Donna Cavanagh enjoys a good “Frazier” re-run on the Hallmark network but takes offense at being treated like a child as it airs on this “family friendly” channel.
Recently, the Hallmark channel had a Frasier marathon. I love that show. It just never ceases to make me giggle. The same is true for the Golden Girls which also airs on the channel. As I was watching the Frasier episodes, I noticed that certain words were being bleeped out or edited out including the words ass, hooker and maybe butt—about that one, I am not sure.
Anyway, at first I thought I imagined the bleeping. I couldn’t figure out why these words would be considered “bleepable”. After a few more words didn’t make the Hallmark cut, I really became curious, so I emailed the network . In truth, I was pretty rude. This is what I said:
May I ask why you feel it necessary to cut out some words from your broadcast of Frasier? What kind of prudish people work at your channel or worse, what kind of prudish people watch your channel, that you feel this is necessary…?
This is what they sent back:
Crown Media Networks is committed to family friendly programming. Our Standards & Practices (“S&P” – the things that are or are not acceptable for a particular network) are very conservative. There are words and phrases commonly used on other cable channels and broadcast networks that Hallmark Channel’s S&P guidelines deem unacceptable.
Okay, this is what is wrong with that statement and why I need to rant. First, this is censorship at its worst. Family Friendly, my ass – oops, my BLEEP. Worse than censorship, this is hypocritical censorship. The Hallmark channel broadcast Frasier at various times of the day. The show is filled with sexual content; yet, the word ass, as in pain in the ass, got them upset. If they are so FAMILY FRIENDLY they wouldn’t be broadcasting this show at all. Frasier episodes are filled with sexual dialogue and sexual situations that depict mostly casual sex – not married-people sex. And let’s face it: if family entertainment advocates had their way, we would only see married-people sex or no sex at all on TV. If “bad” language sends up the red flag to the Hallmark people why not one-night-stand sex?
The same goes for the airing of Golden Girls. Anyone who has ever watched that show knows sex and orgasms are the primary topics of discussion over cheesecake. I don’t ever remember hearing any bleeping when the “Girls” graphically reminisced about their sexual escapades. Again, why are these conversations not subject to the same censorship?
So, what exactly are Hallmark’s guidelines? I assume it’s to set a high moral standing as long as that standing does not interfere with revenue dollars. To be honest, I am lashing out at Hallmark here because I hate anything to do with censorship, and I hate groups that advocate censorship with words like Family Friendly. To me, Family Friendly are the two “F” words we might all fear in the censorship game.
Here is an idea: You want to protect your children: Be parents. Change the bleepin’channel or take the bleepin’TV out of your kids’ bleepin’ rooms so that they can’t watch the bleepin’ shows that are deemed by some ultra-conservative watch groups as amoral or sexually explicit. It upsets me to no end that a cable channel has been duped into thinking that censorship is the right way to go.
Perhaps, Hallmark cards, which is part of the same corporation, should be banned from retail outlets because–let’s face it– their Shoebox Greetings, while incredibly funny, can get a little crass. Maybe retail outlets should adopt the strategy of the now extinct video stores and place the less family friendly cards in a back room out of view of the general population. God knows what would happen if small children happened upon one of those more adult cards. The words or images might be seared into their innocent brains and their lives will no doubt take a 180-degree turn away from purity rings and toward sexual promiscuity. Yes, it will be Sodom and Gomorrah all over again, and it will be all Hallmark’s fault. Isn’t that ironic?
Donna’s work has been published in More.com, SOP.org, Divine Caroline and First magazine and local and national newspapers as well. This year, her first two humor books were published. Life On the Off Ramp is a collection of her earlier humor columns and Reality: Fantasy’s Evil Twin is a look at the contrast between how we imagine relationships to be and how they truly are.