It is interesting that things which were once considered perfectly fine for television -- I assume most if not all of this very mild cursing made it through fine on original tv broadcasts? -- is now very 'touch and go'. Does that say something about today's society? Is there maybe a more puritan streak in modern popular culture than there was ten, twenty, thirty years ago?
Huh? What are you talking about? It's the other way around. I was just mentioning above how in the '60s you couldn't even use "damn" as a profanity on TV. Today you hear tons of curse words that would never have been allowed on commercial TV in the '60s or '70s. I've just recently been watching reruns of The Rockford Files
, and they always have characters break off after saying "son of a--." You couldn't say "bitch" on TV back then. But last night on Castle
, I heard it used four times in about ten seconds. Heck, on basic cable channels like USA and Syfy, shows aired at 10 PM are even free to use the S-word (last night I heard it a couple of times on Lost Girl
, though it was bleeped on Continuum
two hours earlier), which wouldn't have been the case just a few years ago -- heck, even two years ago. The most recent season of Covert Affairs
on USA had characters using the S-word several times per episode, but I don't recall them ever using it at all in the first two seasons.
So TV has gotten progressively less
puritan about curse words over the decades. I think that the influence of pay cable, where there are no restrictions on profanity or other content, is further eroding the censorship limits on free cable and broadcast TV, as shows there have to get more adult and edgy to compete. Also there's just the shift in societal attitudes -- words that are taboo or shocking to one generation eventually lose their shock value and become commonplace and harmless to a later generation.
Most of what's been discussed in this thread has been the bleeping of language in feature films shown on TV or in popular songs on certain broadcast stations. Those cases where a word originally used in the clear on a TV show was bleeped in a rerun -- like Futurama
's "Sweet Zombie Jesus" or the S-word in Continuum
-- have been the result of a show made for one market (certain network, certain time slot, certain country) being aired in a different one that had stricter standards. But as with my Continuum/Lost Girl
example above, the same network can have different censorship guidelines at different times of day.