Thursday, January 19, 2012

Modern Family Warfare

I spent about a half hour on the floor last night, laughing at “Modern Family.”  I get more consistent laugh-out-loud moments from this show than any other in recent years, save for maybe “30 Rock.”  And for me, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the yumminess quotient is off the charts.

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But as you may have heard, last night’s episode touched off some controversy this week, because word was out that a storyline featured 2-year old Lily, adopted daughter of gay dads Cam and Mitchell, dropping an F-bomb at home and later at a wedding.

Now, knowing this show as I do, I was sure it would be presented tastefully and fit in with a relevant plot.  This is not a crass or vulgar show at all; for all the craziness of the three families, it nevertheless has a sweet, gooey center that always leaves you feeling good at the end.

So naturally, here come the conservatives to try to spoil the fun.  First, some 18-year old college student, that founded a “No Cussing Club” that claims 35,000 members, began making noise about getting the episode pulled.  He apparently formed this club in 2007 when he was 13.

Yeah, like we want 13-year olds (OR 18-year olds) dictating public standards.  (Although that might explain the continued popularity of “Two and a Half Men.”) 

Later, the Parents Television Council got in on the act to condemn the episode, which was titled “Little Bo Bleep,” saying that they don’t want children exposed to that kind of language and emulating that behavior. 

I had to laugh… like these PTC people are watching the show anyway… Modern Family features a gay family that acts like any other ordinary family.  That disqualifies it for them right there.  God forbid the children see this realistic portrayal and become infected with the gay.

Anyway, all this happened before the show even aired.  I was half tempted to write this rebuttal yesterday, but unlike any of these bloody do-gooder groups, I thought I’d wait to see the episode first and then write an informed opinion.

As in keeping with the show’s history, it presented this very real situation quite tastefully and reflected a problem parents have had across time and space.  What happens the first time your kid says something off-color?  And what happens when the kid says something at a formal event, like a wedding?  Parents, you’ve all been there, right?  Or at least you know you will be one day. 

When filming the show, they had the little girl actually say “fudge,” so not to taint the little doll, and then bleeped the word and pixilated her mouth.

All I can say is “What’s the fuckin’ problem?”  No harm, no foul.

Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cam, said it best in a couple of tweets:

Lily didn’t ACTUALLY say FU*K, she said fudge. How bout see the episode, THEN form an opinion. For fudge sake people. Chill the f-k out… how bout redirecting the efforts of the No Cuss Club to reading to the elderly, picking up litter, feeding the hungry.”

I’ll come in here and add my usual solution to these kinds of TV-content issues… If you disagree with something that’s on TV, turn the goddamned channel.  You get to control your own TV, not mine or anyone else’s.  Get over yourself and stop projecting your tight-sphinctered morals on the rest of us.  We’ll decide what we can watch, not you.

Around my house, swearing was not really a big deal.  It wasn’t really encouraged, but there were no real repercussions from the occasional lusty swear word for emphasis.  Time and place were more of the focus.  We learned not to swear around our relatives, for sure.  But mostly we learned that there was a big difference between, “Dad, I smashed my fuckin’ thumb,” versus, “Fuck you, Dad.”

If I’d ever uttered the latter, I’d have been in a coma until I was 35.

But when your mom teaches you your first dirty jokes, the parents forfeit taking the high ground.  I don’t think I ever caused any of that kind of trouble when I was little, but my brother did.

When he was in, I think, 2nd grade, each morning one kid got to go up in front of the class and tell a joke.  One of his friends gave him a funny joke to tell, and my brother was naïve enough to do it. 

“What’s pink and lays at the bottom of the ocean?

Moby’s dick.”

All I can say is that the class found it far funnier than the teacher did.

I don’t recall my brother getting into any serious trouble at home though.  I’m pretty sure Mom just told him to stop listening to his friend.

Good thing we didn’t have a No Cussing Club in 1970, or he might have gotten suspended.  Gotta protect the innocent children, you know?

Unrelated Note
I’d like to thank the people that delurked themselves here for DeLurker Day.  I heard from PPG Industries (T-Man), Anchorage (Betty) and Salineville (Brooke).  Thank you for stepping out of the shadows and publicly supporting my little slice of the internet.  (And abating my growing paranoia over who might be is stalking me…So relieved it wasn’t the CIA, the No Cussing Club, or the C-Street House.)

Dedicated readers are like currency because it is through you that I have a richer blogging experience.

26 comments:

  1. Fantastic episode. Cam laughs. Mitch bitches. Who is the tight ass.
    And that stupid pug dog. Jay's preference for the canine is the obscene part.

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    1. The part that killed me was when they were talking about the "bad" side of Claire's face, and Phil says, "That's why I picked that side of the bed." I missed the next minute, from laughing.

      Why did Jay assume the dog couldn't swim? He looked OK to me. But yeah, most unrealistic part of the show is Jay paying more attention to the dog than to Gloria.

      But as Gloria once said, "At night I want to lie down next to a generous man. It doesn't have to be you."

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  2. Well said. I may just have to check out this program. I so agree, turn the channel, don't ever watch the show. Grow up.

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    1. I think you should definitely check out MF. It's smart, clever and real. These people say more funny things under their breath than other shows do up front. And some, especially Claire, Phil and Jay, say more with their eyes than should be allowed.

      I love that Ed O'Neil is in this, playing a well-to-do businessman married to the Colombian bombshell. It's like Al Bundy finally got his just reward.

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  3. My parents used the "it's the time and place policy" for just about everything. "I don't care if you like to party and smoke weed, it's just the time and place that matters."

    People these days are always looking for something to pitch a bitch about and it sickens me!

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    1. That the central problem with our culture right now, I think. If we’d just worry about our own business and keep our noses out of what other people are doing, we’d all be a lot better off.

      Don’t like the show? Don’t watch it.

      Don’t approve of birth control? Don’t use it.

      Don’t approve of abortions? Don’t have one.

      Don’t like marijuana? Don’t use them.

      The variations are endless.

      But don’t you dare try to force your approvals on me.

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  4. When I read about the call to block the ep, I wondered if they were actually going to say the word, but it ended up being nothing. Reminded me of when a two-year-old cousin shouted out the F-word at dinner in a nice restaurant. There everyone at our table plus a few over heard the word multiple times (since we laughed). On Modern Family, which is one of the funniest shows out there, you heard nothing bad! Yes, just turn the TV off or don't watch it to begin with.

    A few months ago, my third grader was sticking up her middle finder for her classmates because we heard on the radio that morning that the middle fingernails grow the longest, and she wanted to share that gem. My kid is pretty naive, and had no clue what she was doing. One kid told her that she was saying the A-word (now who is clueless?!), and then another kid said it was the F-word. Of course one of those kids ratted my kid out to the teacher, and I had to explain to the teacher that my kid had no idea what she was doing, which is just what my kid told her earlier. Worth noting is that up until then, my kid had no idea what the A-word was. Now she knows them all and calls me out every time I accidentally say one.

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    1. If only we could keep our kids away from all the other kids, just think of all the bad habits they could avoid, (not to mention the unsavory terminology.) But that’s what cracks me up about all the ‘Ban the Show’ controversies, and the hooha about the occasional slipped profanity on award shows… You can’t keep your kids from hearing this stuff. It’s going to turn up on the playground sooner or later. Better to teach the kids how to deal… “time and place,” like Workingdan says…

      Yes, MF handled a universal problem with class and humor. The show should be congratulated, not reprimanded. And I’m sure ABC is laughing all the way to the bank.

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  5. What gets me are the people who won't watch legit shows like Modern Family/30 Rock/Community because they're too raunchy, but they'll watch reality tv like it's going out of style. Makes no sense.

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    1. Gah! Don’t get me started on crap TV like Jersey Shore or Toddlers and Tieras or Real Housewives of BFE.

      One point I meant to make (but forgot) is that how people freak out over a single word, or a 1-millisecond nip slip, but no one says jack about the relentless violence and bloodshed that is seen on TV every hour of the day. Believe me, I was far more shook up as a little kid over a simple John Wayne shootem-up than any kid in America was by Janet Jackson’s sad little boob. Or a toddler pretending to say “fuck.”

      When I was a kid, I had nightmares about the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz. A standard episode of CSI would have put me into shock.

      But you don’t hear anything about violence, only sex. Just goes to show how our culture has its values upside down.

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  6. Totally with you on this one. They complain about a dirty word but they are totally okay with all the mutilated bodies on all those coroner shows. Hypocrisy runs rampant whenever anybody tries to control and change the law-abiding behavior of other people. I saw the episode thinking that they weren't going to bleep it. I'm with you. What's the big deal?

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    1. Funny, you writing this just as I was responding to Brooke about TV violence. (see above)

      We’ve become a culture of outrage. We feel we aren’t doing our job unless we’re offended by something and mobilize to get it banned.

      Who ever said we had the right to go through life unoffended? I’m offended by people getting offended over chickenshit offenses and people sticking their noses into my private goddamned business.

      The fact that these people were fully mobilizing before they (or anyone) had actually seen the episode tells you just how bass-ackward we have become. Now we get offended on spec…

      Getting offended over trivia doesn’t make you morally superior, it makes you a douchebag.

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  7. I looooooove that "Cam" said, "How bout redirecting the efforts of the No Cuss Club to reading to the elderly, picking up litter, feeding the hungry." I hope he didn't get any flack for that from anyone who matters.

    That show got canceled out of my DVR by two other things that were apparently more important to me a long time ago, but I thought it was one of the best sitcoms ever when I was watching it. Of course, reality TV always wins out over sitcoms for me.

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    1. OK, right now, while you’re thinking about it, go put it back into your DVR queue. It’s entirely too funny to miss.

      I think that it’s nice that it has a warm fuzzy vibe and all, but when it comes down to it, it’s just plain funny. Laugh out loud funny. And that doesn’t come around very often.

      Plus there’s the hot chicks, but don’t expect that you’d be as enthused about them as I am.

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  8. Honestly part of the problem is the media. They see something like this come up and they look for groups to react that way. It's so ridiculous. If we ignored them, it wouldn't even be a big deal. I'm with you, turn the channel losers.

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    1. Of course... the media is fighting for eyeballs, and eyeballs flock to controversy, either in sympathy, or disgust. Either way, the media wins, because their primary mission is to be watched.

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  9. Reality TV has taken over the airways! It totally disgusts me! Talk about the dumbing down of America!!! Who actually watches that shit anyway??? Could those viewers be Republican voters? Hmmmmm--I wonder....

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    1. Well, I do watch some reality shows... Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race... And I have no illusions as to their value. Cheap TV. But I do draw the line at the crappier fare like The Batchelor, the endless cooking shows, advice shows, the Look How Weird my Job Is shows... and anything with the words Real Housewife.

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  10. Bluz, those shows are only the tip of the iceberg. There are sooooo many worthless and tacky shows (I know I have mentioned Lady Hoggers)--there are just too many to name. The average adult I.Q. is 100, but that could drop into the 70's if people continue to waste their time watching all the trash shows t.v. has to offer.

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    1. I believe you. Other than sports and movie channels, I don't usually stray too far from network fare. (Other than the occasional FX or TNT series.)

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  11. And yet these are some of the same hypocritical assholes who'll vote for Gingrich while touting "family values." You nailed is as usual.

    Favorite line: We learned not to swear around our relatives, for sure. But mostly we learned that there was a big difference between, “Dad, I smashed my fuckin’ thumb,” versus, “Fuck you, Dad.”

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    1. Republican "Family Values" are nothing but the bait they use to get people to vote against their own self interest. They only "value" families that are just like them. (White, wealthy, Christian and patriarchal.)

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  12. I completely agree with you about how hilarious this show is. I just die laughing every week. I thought the lights in the bridal party's clothes was just so funny. And Claire's mock debate practice was a killer...talking into the hairbrushes. I'm dying all over again laughing. The writers on this show and the actors are just a wonderful combination.

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    1. The actors on Modern Family say more funny stuff under their breath than other shows do up front. The writing is crisp and the acting is first rate. I just love that show.

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  13. Hey, I know I haven't been commenting much lately, and I'm sorry about that. Your comment space is doing weird things when I'm on your sight, like showing your blog stats or your flikr stream. is that happening for anyone else?

    Anyhoo, modern family is one of those shows I wish I had started watching from the beginning. I guess it's never too late! there is such a shortage of good stuff on TV anymore. I miss Lost.

    As far as language: I've explained to the girls, and will explain to the boy, that there are words that only grown ups can use. I try not to swear or say "Jesus Christ!" around my kids, but mileage varies!

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  14. I know it's been wonky, but so far no one has mentioned any one thing. I know Blogger has recently updated its interface (adding a 'reply' function) so maybe there are still some bugs.

    My Grandpa used to have what I thought was a very peculiar expression, when I was a kid. When he'd get angry at someone, say, another driver, he'd go, "You dumb cluck!"

    It wasn't until I got much older that I realized that he was merely substituting a similar-sounding word, for the benefit of his young grandchildren. I thought he was calling him a stupid chicken.

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