Shit yes! Fuck no!

Apparently the obscenity policy of the Syfy channel: shit is fine, fuck has to be bleeped. This on cable tv, in the middle of the night. At Syfy, there are some lines that Cannot Be Crossed.

An observation prompted by my viewing the glossy, hysterical, high-energy vampire flick From Dusk till Dawn on Syfy in the dark of the night. The film is jam-packed with occurrences of shit and fuck, in a variety of uses, including this crucial line at end of the film:

Kate [played by Juliette Lewis] asks Seth [played by George Clooney] if she can go with him to El Rey, Mexico, but he declines, saying, “I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard.”  (Wikipedia link)

That’s what’s in the film, and the fucking is important to the character, but Syfy bleeped it — along with every other occurrence of fuck, while leaving a veritable shitstorm untouched. The effect is bizarre.

More about the film, from Wikipedia:

From Dusk till Dawn is a 1996 American action horror film directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. It stars George Clooney, Tarantino, Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis. After enjoying modest success at the box office, it has since become a cult film. The film was conceived by Robert Kurtzman who hired Tarantino to write the script as his first paid writing assignment.

The film is way over the top; the Wikipedia summary of the plot is a hoot just on its own.

6 Responses to “Shit yes! Fuck no!”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    This appears to be the policy on FX (Fox’s “edgy” cable channel) as well. When we watched their “Rescue Me” some years ago, I noticed that they could say anything (including “cock” in its anatomical sense) except “fuck” and “cunt”. (The latter avoidance killed a joke when Denis Leary’s firefighter character, engaged in harassing the lone woman in the firehouse (played by Diane Farr), asked her which she found more offensive, “twat or the C-word?”)

  2. rjp Says:

    Watching old episodes of Monk recently, harvested from Hallmark, and they blank out “bitch”. Which I guess would make sense if they were using it as a female pejorative but mostly it’s the “stop bitching” meaning.

    • Robert Coren Says:

      St. Elsewhere was on in the days where they just about dared to say “damn” on network TV, and I noted the occurrence of two bowdlerized idioms: “Stop whizzing and moaning” and “I don’t give a rat’s can”. In both cases my reaction was that nobody would ever say that; if they wanted to avoid the “taboo” word they would use a different idiom altogether.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Joe Fineman on Facebook:

    I remember fondly a cartoon I saw many years ago. A harmless-looking zhlubby guy is sitting at a desk. The phone rings. He picks it up. He says “Shit, yes!” Then he says “Fuck, no!” & hangs up.
    Somehow, it would seem wrong the other way around. Why?

    There are several possible effects here, but a strong determinant is phonological: shit before fuck, yes before no. It’s the ding dong not dong ding thing: vowels that sound “smaller” and “higher” before vowels that sound “bigger” and “lower” (essentially, higher second formant before lower).

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Would love to see that cartoon. No success in searching, though.

    • rjp Says:

      I can imagine “No, fuck” but only where the “fuck” is intense exasperation – as if this was the Nth time, eg “no, FUCK!” But then it does kinda feel like it’s maybe falling towards being “No. Fuck!” or “No? Fuck!”

      Similarly I can imagine a “Yes, shit” but where the “shit” is a defeat or deflation – but again it does feel like that might be leaning towards two phrases.

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