Gouri Dange: The monkey manning the bleep machine

01 Feb,2012

By Gouri Dange


I wonder who is in charge of bleeping out words on Z Cafe and a few other channels. Didn’t have it before. Now it’s on. There is something so touchingly innocent (kind word for daft/gormless) about some authority that bleeps out offensive words, but is totally oblivious to the risque, shall we say indelicate, nature of the entire script of some of the American serials we’re watching. Which leaves you feeling like a 10 year-old-kid who incredulously and amusedly watches as his parents carefully spell out ‘s-w-i-n-e’ and ‘y-o-u-r-b-l-o-o-o-d-y m-o-t-h-e-r’ in the middle of a nasty fight with each other.


I mean you can bleep out words all you want from Two and a Half Men or $#*! My Dad Says, and have a sentence going something like this: “Oh dableepmn, I thought she was nice and slubleeputy, but she didn’t want to fbleepk around, so what the hebleeepell, I’ll just have to use my iflatbleeepable dobleeepll.” But it is still clear that much of the humour is generated by constant and casual reference, to acts like sebleeeepx and masturbleeeeption, body parts like brbleeeepsts, bubleeeptts, penbleeepses, asbleeeepoles, and suchlike. Interestingly, one word that passes muster (probably because the bleepers don’t know what it means) is ‘kiester’, which means backbleeeepside. Kiester is used left right and centre, quite unmolested by the bleep. However, when anyone uses ‘ass’, it is cleaned up with the refined replacement ‘behind’.


It’s intriguing how the subtitles are cleaned up too. Sometimes there is the use of the good old asterisk ***** and sometimes words are delicately replaced. So for some reason when the character is saying ‘pervert’, the subtitle primly uses ‘deviant’. Ba*ls becomes ‘guts’. Sl*t and bi**h becomes ‘witch’ (yes, I’m not making this up as I go along; I sat and noted them down). Homo is fully bleeped out, and in the subtitles it is replaced with the more politically correct ‘queer’.


On Comedy Central, there is a smudge and the Cc logo pasted over ‘offensive’ images like someone smoking. Again, the story itself that day (That Seventies Show) may be all about two women desperately enjoying their smoke, and even my dogs understood that, but noooo, we’re not grown up enough to actually see them lighting up their ciggies. Ah comeon, really? I mean really? What crableepp.


But let me not protest too loudly, in case someone decides that this is ALL inappropriate content for our innocent and pious country with its faiu-thousand year tradition peopled only ever by selfless heroes, brave women, and wide-eyed children and utterly functional families. I can’t even say that last phrase with a straight face, but hey, it’s a great delusion-illusion that we feed ourselves when we talk sweepingly about how ‘The West’ is soooo bad. (But of course we do our damndest to see that our children go to college there and then earn nothing but daallerrs for the rest of their lives.) But I digress.


A serial like Nurse Jackie goes unbleeped, because the monkey with the bleep machine hears no gaali-galoch. And yet…and yet…take a look at the content; it would make all toes – pious as well as non-pious – curl. The woman works in a hospital, is addicted to drugs – uppers or downers or something. She buys her stash from some guy in a restaurant (who routinely meets her, they hug, he slips them into her pocket for everyone except for some reason any cop to be able to see); she hides them in her shoes, she hides them in the light fixture in the lift, she hides them in the cookie jar at home. Firstly, this serial needs to be bleeped for stupidity – why is she buying stuff from someone when she has a whole hospital full of it? Or am I missing something – is it cocaine in capsule form? We are never actually shown this Psychedelic Florence Nightingale taking the stuff or ever looking at least briefly a little happy. Secondly, for reasons never made clear to us, she is unfaithful to her husband who slaves away at home with the kids. Why this grim, sad-eyed chick has this back-story is not clear, however many episodes you watch. Whenever I catch her, she’s just loitering in hospital corridors or getting into some storeroom for a moment to herself and her demons, you’re supposed to understand.


So while someone is really busy with the bleeper, really absurd as well as soul-destroying messages march right through. What dumbleepery.


Naming no Names is the mid-week column where novelist, columnist and counsellor Gouri Dange presents her tongue-in-cheek view of our world.


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2 responses to “Gouri Dange: The monkey manning the bleep machine”

  1. Maadbleepod says:

    My take on this is a bit forgiving and expansive. Even in America, violence and doing drugs (among adults, that is) are strangely seen as somehow less bleep-worthy than sex. So the Indian monkey is, um, merely aping his American counterpart.

    And as a gay person, I find it hilarious that they choose to replace one dismissive epithet (homo) with another (queer)!

    Love your column! Keep pointing out the elephants in the room, Gouri!

  2. Swati says:

    Ha ha ha….. I am not much of a TV watcher, but I so well understand what you say in this piece. It describes us perfectly! A kiss (smooch) was never permitted in our films for years and years, on grounds of god knows what, but obscene pelvic thrusts were all the rage! In film after film a bevy of provocatively clad women heaved and jumped in excruciatingly long dance numbers.
    And the sad part is, we are so comfortable with our hypocrisy.

    Good to see these things being written about, a spade called a spade and that too in a manner that had me almost rolling off my chair laughing!!! Please continue to write more….