Las Siete Palabras
Day 237 – March 15, 2012
George Carlin, one of the funniest, most intelligent people to walk the planet, had a comedy routine dubbed “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television.” As you might surmise from the title, Carlin spoke of the septet of words that one could not utter over the airwaves.
These were the words “that would curve the spine, put hair on the back of your hands…” and there was “no way you could weave them on the panel with Doc and Ed and Johnny.”
None of these words will be repeated in full in this posting. For the complete list, you may point your browser here.
This routine about those seven words is so infamous that it even spawned a ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States that declared that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could punish radio and television stations for airing material that contained any of these words (and some extra ones for good measure).
In my previous life before my previous life, I was in radio. For four years in college and for a few years after that, my voice rode on electromagnetic waves and could be heard for miles around (but only if you had a radio to receive my ramblings). Talking on the radio meant that I had to be fully aware of what I was saying. Especially on the college station where the atmosphere was a tad more relaxed, I really had to police myself to make sure that no S-words or F-bombs slipped through in my conversations. I certainly did not want the FCC to come down on me and the station I worked for. The FCC has gone to the mat to punish networks that have aired swear words (e.g., Bono on NBC in 2003, Cher on FOX in 2002, Nicole Richie in 2003) and I didn’t want to be on that list.
So what does this have to do with my current life in Peru?
Because those folks at the FCC who monitor the airwaves for Carlin’s Seven Words would blow a gasket down here because songs are played on the radio here that contain swear words but they are not bleeped out or silenced as they are in the States.
My first fleeting example of this phenomenon was when I heard Alanis Morrissette’s “Hand In My Pocket” on the radio. It contains the line, “I’m brave, but I’m chickensh!*”, but it was not censored in any way.
Thankfully, the kids (especially our little girl) were not in the car.
I thought the playing of the Morrissette song was an aberration, but I heard more and more songs that had the occasional S-word, F-bomb, B-ryhmes-with-rich, etc. thrown in.
As of today, I can put my hand on my heart and say that Peruvian radio stations that play English songs (with one exception) do not censor.
Today, I was listening to Radio Planeta (107.7 on your FM dial), whose shtick is that they play “Tu musica, en Ingles” (Your music, in English). A song started up that was unfamiliar to me.
THANKFULLY, the kids again were not in the car because I would have created a sonic boom due to how quickly my hand leapt to the radio buttons to turn it off.
It was Eamon‘s “F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back)”.
This song contains eight utterances of the F-word in its chorus, which only has eight lines. It has another of Carlin’s Seven Words and other langauge that would send Terry Rakolta into a letter-writing rage.
The lone exception of a song being censored that I have discovered so far is “Lighters” with Bruno Mars. The sections rapped by Eminem and by Royce have noticeable audible gaps where the swear words would be.
As if dodging combis and taxis weren’t enough of a distraction on Peru’s roads, now I have to have an ear out for what’s playing on the radio.
Then again…it could be a wonderful learning opportunity to teach my children about the richness of language. As Carlin said, “There are no bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions, and wooooords”.
Final Note: Today’s title, for the non-Spanish speaker, translates to “The Seven Words”.