My earliest memories of television censorship involve Child’s Play 3. Chucky set his sights on a sleazy toy executive. As he moved in for the kill, Chucky exclaimed, “don’t fool with the Chuck!” You can guess which word seems off even if you haven’t seen the film. “Fool” does not rhyme with “Chuck.” I had seen the Rated-R version of the movie (even though I was only nine). Chucky said the dreaded f-word.
It made sense to me that they would censor that word. If I couldn’t say it, why should they? I might hear and then say it, and my parents may have to talk to me about it! God forbid (eye roll emoji). I won’t say that I wasn’t exposed to too much too soon when I was younger, but my parents were always good about explaining things to me. That said, I understand censoring the f-word (though those restrictions have been loosened). I think censoring the word penis is dumb.
We live in a society (drink) that at one time didn’t want to see a married couple share the same bed. Hell, two days ago, a friend (who is not a parent) bristled when they heard the word “blood” in the Spiderman theme. They said my kids shouldn’t hear the word “blood.” They are wrong. It’s people like them (and the idiots banning books that make them “uncomfortable”) who made it necessary for Penis Pioneers like Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel!
In 1988, Conan and Smigel wrote a sketch for SNL in which the word “penis” is sung over forty times. At the time, they received some pushback. Rightfully so, they fought for their right to say penis. It’s part of the anatomy! What else should you call it? Plus, in a sketch at a nude beach, penises are gonna come up. Unwarranted censorship seems primed to be a neverending battle. Hopefully, more penis pioneers like O’Brien are out there lying in wait. They aren’t the heroes we deserve, but they are the heroes we need.