Slutty *bleeping* fish

August 25, 2009 at 11:09 am (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)


I was driving into work this morning, the iPod set on shuffle, when a song by one of my favorite bands came on. They also do a podcast every now and then, and I wondered if they had a recent one available. But there’s only one problem.

They *bleeping* bleep themselves.

Now, I’m pretty sure there are no FCC regulations prohibiting rated R language, because there’s another podcast I listen to that can get pretty raw, so I figure it must be by choice. So why did they choose to do it?

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the bleeping more offensive than the language used, and it got me thinking not about the band, but about the listeners and how they felt about the bleeping. I mean, this is a band that, by their own description, “had their apprenticeships in the pubs of Atlantic Canada” so it’s no surprise that they drop f-bombs here and there. Given that knowledge about them (in addition to the fact they perform such songs as “The Old Black Rum” and “Jakey’s Gin”), I expect these partying musicians to be quite free with their speech while talking amongst themselves, even if they know they’re being recorded. But as I said, maybe that’s just me.

My question is, if there were a person who was offended by certain language, be it strong or promiscuous, and wanted it bleeped out, would that person be the type to listen to a band who sings about drinking, girls, slutty fish, and, yes, even wanting to be Consequence Free? This question is a similar one I’ve discussed with some writer friends—if, as a writer, you’ve crafted your story with some raw or edgy or violent or erotic elements, should you hold back anything in trying to gain a wider audience, or do you lose something of your voice keeping things on the cleaner side? And, if you do hold back, even a little bit, do you risk more by losing those who are your true and deep fans, those who want to see you swing for the fences, than by possibly gaining fans who aren’t so passionate?

I think you can tell which way I lean on this, but I know that I often have thoughts that really aren’t mainstream. (Sorry to those of you who just fainted at that admission. I really should have warned you.) I also realize we’re dealing with the really sticky issue of censorship, be it self-imposed or institutionally sanctioned, so I don’t know that there’s really a neat way to tie this up. (Speaking of erotic…) Maybe we’ll leave it at this—to thine own self be true. Or, as my friend Brian used to say, “Whatever floats your boat.”

 Toot, toot.



  1. coffeegirl88 said,

    My guess is they bleeped themselves so their podcast would be available to a wider audience.

    As for writing, I write they way I write. I am an adult writing for adults, if you can’t handle some salty language then I’m not the writer for you. I mean, I write steamy romances it’s a little hard (pun intended) not to include some adult language.

    But the fan thing. Yeah, you’d think fans of the band would be able to handle the language. I tripped over that once, got called “mean” by someone on a Henry Rollins fan board. Seriously.

  2. Robin said,

    I agree with Brian, and if you don’t like what’s floating, find somewhere else to go. Writers should write want they want, singers should sing what they want. And audiences should consider themselves lucky that there are so many choices.

    So, um, care to share any of those non-mainstream thoughts? Come on…we’ll only read them if you promise not to bleep anything out. 😉

  3. jeniferm said,

    I love ALL language and especially that which might raise an eyebrow or two. Sometimes the word you need is just not as widely accepted as the alternatives some people like to sell you!

    But I do think that iTunes (damn them!) might impose some regulations on language for promoting podcasts to a wider audience. Some that I subscribe to have the label *ahem* “adult” next to them. It’s hardly fair to label a podcast *adult* simply for language. Why not employ a ratings system similar to movies? Certainly PG-13 movies (and even PG – have you seen Marley and Me?) can have certain adult themes and/or language. So why does a podcast that contains an adult word or two need to appear to be XXX rated?

    Oh, and Pam? Color me shocked. 😉

    I like to say, “Whatever blows your skirt up.” But floating a boat is always good. 🙂

  4. L.A. Mitchell said,

    The bleeping annoys me, too. This coming from a girl who samples a hard rock f*bomb at least once a day. It just wouldn’t match the angry cords if it was all Mary Poppins, would it?

  5. Montana (curtbooks) said,

    Well, as you know, I fought this for a long time in my writing and freedom certainly feels better. I don’t use much rough language in my writing (notice the qualifier, I swear like a longshoreman in everyday life) but when a scene calls for it, it feels good to bring the heat. I grew up appreciating the battles fought by people like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin and I wish people could realize what they give up when they censor themselves.

  6. Pamela Cayne said,

    Coffee–you got called mean by somebody on the Henry Rollins board?!? I would *not* want to run into you in a dark alley! 😉

    Robin–I think I’m going to have a bumper sticker or t-shirt made with “If you don’t like what’s floating, find somewhere else to go!” That’s just perfect. 😀

  7. Pamela Cayne said,

    Jenifer–yes, that lovely, bawdy language. Sometimes it just makes it better, doesn’t it? It’s like watching Deadwood–a obscene Shakespeare, but it couldn’t have been done any other way.

    L.A.–I think a lot of people watched S.O.B. just to watch Julie Andrews flash, as shocking as her dropping the f-bomb. A long journey from A Spoonful of Sugar…

  8. Pamela Cayne said,

    Montana–Ah, that lovely freedom. Yes, as writers we all deal with freedom of speech in one way or another, just like censorship. It can be self imposed or government, but something we each deal with in our own way. But you know what I always say–swing wide. 🙂

  9. Marilyn Brant said,

    “Slutty fish,” huh? I think I just found a new group to listen to… 🙂

    I didn’t hear the podcast you mentioned, so I may be way off, but do you think the musicians may–in part–want the bleeping for effect? They might SAY it’s for the listeners, etc., but sometimes I wonder if they do it as a kind of Spinal Tap thing–a parody of groups who are bleeped so, even when they don’t have to, they bleep themselves. “We’re so bad we SHOULD be bleeped…” and, in that way, they play it up and it draws extra attention to their badness. Maybe. Just a bleepin’ theory of mine.

  10. Sandra Ferguson said,

    This sounds totally reminscent of the late 60s–early 70s era — the whole free love movement and if it feels right then do it. I’m old enough to remember that era, so I get a voice on this.

    There are audiences of all levels and all preferences — artists get to appeal to whichever group they believe will provide the most loyal following, i.e. the most revenue produced. ‘Cause, ultimately, as artists we intend to make money, a living would be better, off the fruits of our labor.

    So, if I don’t like erotica, then I shouldn’t read it. If I love erotica, then it should be the first on my ‘to buy’ list. What I read, what I sing in the shower is and should still be protected under my basic rights. Note, I didn’t say constitutional rights — I don’t want to get into the whole political aspect of this arguement.

    HOWEVER, I do have my lines in the sand. Music from someone else’s car — loud, obnoxiously, shake-my-windows loud — with words I don’t use in front of my kids. If I don’t get to ‘say ’em’, quite frankly, neither does the music industry — at least not in my kids’ ears. The same goes for the publishing industry. Edit it, contract it, publish it, but don’t tell me that any genre is the end-all. Reviewers: Books, art, movies, even music reviews are worth exactly what we pay for them — psst, they’re free, so that makes them worth nothing. Why? Because it’s one person’s opinion, and only one. Listen to, paint, read, write whatever feels right, but don’t stuff it down anyone else’s throat.

    If that makes me old-fashioned, so be it. But remember, I’ve already lived through the do-it-if-it-feels-right generation, and no body was telling me what to do then.

  11. Pamela Cayne said,

    Marilyn–interesting theory. My kneejerk reaction was to say, “But I really think they swear like Britney Spears when you take away her fried cheese curds,” but in thinking it over, you may be on to something. Getting the effect of swearing without actually swearing. Very interesting, my friend. Very interesting.

    Sandra–absolutely! Let me make my decisions, but don’t shove your opinions down my throat, either by music played too loudly from your car to being disparaging of what I’m reading. Thanks for the post!

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