Monday, March 4, 2013

It's Too Late for this But...

I just finished a typically excellent episode of Breaking Bad in which the last line of dialog was one character telling another character to "get the fuck out of here and never come back."  It was a shocking moment.  Not because he said "fuck."  This is a show for grown-ups.  It was shocking for [rest of sentence redacted for spoilers... but if you're caught up through episode 9 of season 4, let's fucking dish!]  Also, he didn't really say that because Breaking Bad is on basic cable, so he really said "Get the [inaudible]k out of here."

I am rarely if ever offended by swearing.  But even if you are, I doubt you'd have been here.  The word use was not at all gratuitous, completely in service of story and exactly what the character would have said.  If you'd made it to episode 9, season 4 (and if you have.... seriously, let's dish), you're not even a little bit likely to have noticed that it was an unusually naughty word for basic cable because you'd be too busy thinking about [redacted... spoilers].

This line of dialog followed a stunningly violent fight scene.  A fight scene that was, at least to me, genuinely upsetting.  But while upsetting,  this fight scene was not at all gratuitous, completely in service of story and exactly what those characters would have done.  It was meant to be upsetting.  And we saw every gory second of it. And then the delicate sensibilities of the basic cable viewer were protected from the word "fuck" by crafty, but still obvious sound editing.

So stupid, right? I mean, aside from the obvious fact that every single viewer of Breaking Bad is not only familiar with the word "fuck" but likely to have uttered that word that very day (my guess is that right after that line was delivered the entire BB viewership said, at once, "Holy fuck!").

Again, I know I'm shouting down the same well countless others have shouted down before, but why is it OK to show almost any level of violence on television, in movies, in video games, but bare a breast or let slip an f-bomb and suddenly the game changes?  The rating is different?

Sometimes, I swear it seems like the whole of American pop culture is basing its rules of conduct off of a handout the biggest asshole teacher in elementary school handed out in fifth grade homeroom.