Can Double Entendres Be Indecent?

Written by PTC | Published November 15, 2014

WARNING: EXPLICIT DIALOGUE AND DESCRIPTIONS It’s not exactly unusual for the PTC to criticize Family Guy. It’s consistently among the most offensive programs on television, and it’s particularly problematic given the fact that it’s animated and consequently naturally appeals to kids. Much of Family Guy’s most shocking content has been chronicled by the PTC during its run both on this blog and elsewhere in our advocacy. This week’s episode of Family Guy broke some interesting and disturbingly offensive ground. Rather than all-too-typical uses of explicit language, this episode used double entendre (a double meaning) and the use of would-be foul language and references to aberrant sex acts that supposedly only referred to non-offensive uses of the same words. To wit:
Peter: What's gonna fit in the “Glory”-hole? Announcer: In place of "Glory" we will be showing "Shaft," starring Richard Roundtree. Peter: What? You can't just shove "Shaft" in the "Glory"-hole. Brian: Yeah, I know. It'd be better to put in that movie about the two girls who meet Nixon. What's that movie called? "Dick"? "Dick" would slide right into that "Glory"-hole. Peter: Nah, nah. "Dick" is too short for that "Glory"-hole. But if you also put Edward Furlong's movie, "Pecker." You got "Pecker" and "Dick" in the "Glory"-hole and you got a tight squeeze, but it ought to fit. So, the writers of Family Guy, in their creativity, figured out a way to broadcast that level of offensive language into every living room in the country, while supposedly only referred to names of people and movie titles. Obviously, references to names and movie titles wasn’t the joke the writers had it mind. Had similar language and descriptions been used without the dubious references, this scene would all but certainly constitute a violation of federal broadcast decency law, which prohibits the broadcast of "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities" when children are most likely to be in the audience. So what do you think? Did this episode cross the line in terms of the language and subject matter that was really intended? Should the FCC consider this a violation of the law? If so, it's an easy process to file a complaint with the FCC.

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