“or words to that effect”

From the annals of taboo avoidance in the NYT, in Charles McGrath’s “How Many Stephen Colberts Are There?” (NYT Magazine, January 8th), p. 22:

“It’s bizarre,” remarked an admiring Jon Stewart, whose own program, “The Daily Show,” immediately precedes “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central and is where the Colbert character got his start. “Here is this fictional character who is suddenly interacting in the real world [via a super PAC created by Colbert]. It’s so far up its own rear end,” he said, or words to that effect, “that you don’t know what to do except get high and sit in a room with a black light and a poster.”

Stewart and Colbert are free with taboo vocabulary on their shows, knowing that it will all be bleeped out by Comedy Central (presumably to protect the children; after all, a lot of kids get their news from “The Daily Show” — and maybe they perfect their swearing there as well).

The Times isn’t averse to ass ‘buttocks’ (as in the title of the Andy Warhol movie “Taylor Mead’s Ass”) or non-anatomical ass (as in its blog title “Cheap Ass Food”), but it seems to draw the line at ass ‘anus’ (as in the idiom up someone’s ass, above). So unlike its avoidance of fuck in any of its senses or uses, its avoidance of ass is more nuanced and contextual.

One Response to ““or words to that effect””

  1. Victor Steinbok Says:

    Speaking of Comedy Central taboo avoidance, I noticed last night that “shit” and “fuck” are still bleeped on South Park, but “bullshit”, “bitch” and “ass” are not. Other shows are similarly selectively bleeped. Of course, if you watch USA, TNT or TBS, the bleeping follows a similar pattern (CC is a Viacom channel, while USA is an NBC channel, along with Bravo and ScyFy; the other two are both AOL/Warner).

    CC’s taboo adventurism is addressed, somewhat, in Wiki:

    “The success of South Park, despite its mature content, encouraged the network to continue to push the limits on adult language. Every Saturday and Sunday morning at 1 am, a movie, comedy special or animated program is shown unedited for language. This is called the Secret Stash. It premiered on July 4, 2003 (with the unedited cable television debut of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut). Though no language is censored on the Secret Stash, most nudity in the programs is still edited out, with the exception of limited nudity allowed in animated programs (such as Drawn Together) and the occasional topless scene.”

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