Bizarre censorship hits ‘The Simpsons’

By Phil Seaman

A current topic of debate across many blogs is the idea of ‘public outrage’, and who actually gets offended by seemingly inoffensive material that has been socially acceptable for years in the past, but now sees political and media figureheads speaking out about seemingly mediocre issues. Now, another tv show has fallen victim to the PC crowd.

Not suitable for teatime TV?

The Simpsons: Not suitable for teatime TV?

Channel 4 is officially described as:

“The public service remit for Channel 4 is the provision of a broad range of high quality and diverse programming which, in particular:

  • demonstrates innovation, experiment and creativity in the form and content of programmes;
  • appeals to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society;
  • makes a significant contribution to meeting the need for the licensed public service channels to include programmes of an educational nature and other programmes of educative value; and
  • exhibits a distinctive character.”

The key points to take from this are ‘distinctive character’ and to show innovation, experimentation and creativity in their program making. However, over the last few years, their once cutting edge (no pun intended), irrelevant programming has become less and less relevant beside numerous reality TV programs and the occasional shockumentary.

They have now gone one step too far! A oft-repeated episode of ‘The Simpsons’ has been censored in a most ridiculous manner, presumably for fear of offending several old women in a bungalow filled with Mary Whitehouse memorabilia who still think Eric Morcambe is alive and all young people are junkie murderers.

The first cut, in its official version:

“The Simpsons: Trash of the Titans (#9.22)” (1998)

Homer Simpson: [Pushes in front of a queue] I wanna register to run for sanitation commissioner. And tell the fat cats upstairs things are gonna change in this town.
Clerk: Okay, but this is where you register as a sex offender.
Moe: [Arriving at the back of the queue] Oh, jeez, there’s always a line.

However, Moe’s line was cut out by the ridiculous censorship bosses at Channel 4, for no reason other than for petty political correctness. It’s an extraordinary move that shows that the aftermath of the (ridiculously over-hyped) Brand-Ross saga has left a large imprint upon broadcasters, who are in fear of fining and also, no doubt, their own jobs if something ‘offensive’ was complained about.

Internet rumour has it that episodes of scrubs repeated during the day on E4 have suffered the same cuts, and I was unable to find out if this was true or not – but judging by the ridiculous handling of the Simpsons, it would hardly come as a surprise.

Later in the episode, Homer asks people to guess how he managed to get his hands on some money and the encore shout “dealing drugs!” However, Channel 4 cut this line as well. What do they think young children are going to do – go out and start dealing because Homer did it? It’s a bizarre reaction that will only put fire in the arguments that Britain is becoming a Nanny State.

Whilst these arguments are often over-the-top and rather formulaic (“It’s that dratted Government, taking our money and shoving a CCTV camera in my bathroom!”), it won’t be long before many in the country begin to take note of these ridiculous censorship issues that suggest that all people are easily influenced and have no sense of right and wrong.

It might start with The Simpsons, but it will be interesting to see where censorship and ‘public outrage’ takes our media outlets over the course of the next 18 months, and how long it will take before people start seriously asking questions about Political Correctness.


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