George Carlin's 7 dirty words bit is now 48 years old. It's been nearly a full half of a CENTURY since Carlin told us the seven words that you cannot, under any circumstances, say on television. For most of that half-century, we observed Carlin's advice.
Scripted cable television changed the rules where the FCC had no power, but swearing on live television remains a taboo that still elicits giggles and blog posts. One of those moments occurred on ESPN last night when Scott Van Pelt dropped an s-bomb during an interview with Jason Sudeikis.
"Shit" on SportsCenter!? Why. I. Never.
In 2020, it's kind of amazing that when someone swears on television in a spot where there generally isn't swearing on television, most of us still look like Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood...
Do I personally say "shit" multiple times before breakfast? It depends on if there is enough milk for both my children. Have I written out the word "shit" more times in this family newspaper column than SVP said it on air last night? Shit, I guess I have.
So what is it that still makes us react to this word on late-night cable television like it was someone accidentally breaking a plate in the middle of a crowded cafeteria? As we currently seem to live in it, you would think we had become desensitized by now. Especially in Washington D.C. Is it because some people are still afraid of it? Some people still complain no matter what the context?
Is it possible that someone might even complain about the casual use of the filthy word after midnight on a basic cable sports program? Probably. Some people believe that if you don't complain about everything, you can't complain about anything. Which is, of course, bullshit.