TV Censorship: Booze Bleeped, Midriff Covered – When Did We Become Such Puritans?

To watch TV these days – particularly channels with English programs is to be unable to understand exactly what is going on. Words are bleeped out, scenes are cut, we are left guessing as to what really was said and why it was so awful that we were not permitted to see or hear it. Some items are censored because they are somehow, remotely related to sex; others are bizarrely removed because of the dietary preferences or squeamishness of some parts of society.

Beef, bra, tampon, orgasm, names of booze – all bleeped!

Beef is a bad word so we have to guess what Pheobe is asking about the ingredients of a dish. And the word bitch is deemed unsuitable as well – sometimes it is replaced with ‘woman’, at others it is replaced with ‘harlot’. I am pretty sure that such replacement is far more objectionable than the original use of the word bitch (either way!).

The prudish attitude regarding homosexuality is also on display – words such as gay and lesbian are sometimes muted. They are sometimes substituted with ‘queer’. How queer!

All names of booze are muted too – so usually you and I have no idea whether they're drinking beer, whisky, gin, rum or vodka! You know, because those who drink are all frankly bad dudes or because saying the words will make people rush out and get sloshed?  

Anatomical references? Not in India please!

The word 'nipple' is bleeped and breast becomes chest – because we must not acknowledge anatomical realities. And here is another: the word ‘ass’ is often bleeped; hilariously, even when it is supposed to mean donkey, and not one's read end! Words such as orgasm are often bleeped and sex sometimes becomes ‘gender’. Apparently, people do not get ‘horny’ they are, rather quaintly, ‘in passion’.

Bizarrely, even the word bra is bleeped, panties become shorts or pants – I’m puzzled… are we not supposed to wear these things, or are we supposed to be ashamed of donning underwear? Bodily functions such as peeing are unseemly too – the word pee has been known to be bleeped. The word that most Indian school kids use and parents don’t even bat an eyelid - shit also awful enough to mute!

Are be becoming more puritanical?

This zeal for censorship means that shows such as Game of Thrones are actually of reduced duration when shown on Indian TV. The cutting out of sex scenes means that continuity and story narration are seriously impacted at times. Even late night shows are not spared the snip of the censor – the public is not deemed mature enough to handle adult content even if proper warnings/certifications and age appropriateness are made known beforehand.

A queen's midriff can't be shown either

And then there is the ongoing problem of film censorship as well. Not only has Padmavati finally become Padmavat after the strident and violent protests from some segments, lead actress Deepika Padukone’s bare midriff is asked to be covered as well! Presumably, a sight of the queen's midriff, exposed by the ghaghra-choli she is wearing, is unseemly!

The perfectly respectable and intrinsically Indian outfit is suddenly unseemly? How priggish we have become! Must we be content with the censors’ scissors snipping here, cutting there? Can we not be a mature audience who chooses what they want to watch and refrains from watching what they think is offensive, adult or indecent. Right now, the answer is clearly a resounding No!

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