Monday, April 5, 2010

U.S. Television Networks Contract Word Aversion

Having recently posted about a linguistic phenomenon called "word aversion", I had to chuckle when I read the April 2nd issue of The Week magazine. According to The Week, television networks in the U.S. have banned a Kotex tampon commercial that uses the word "vagina".

Give me a break.

These same networks allow the repeated use of numerous "swear" words during prime-time television shows (not to mention the fact that the topics on many of these shows include sex, drugs and various bodily functions). Have you ever watched Two and a Half Men or How I Met Your Mother?

And beside the point, some forms of sexual education are now taught in public schools as early as kindergarten. Parts of the human anatomy should not be considered taboo words.


P.S. Here is a great cartoon about word aversion spotted on Language Log.

I have to agree about the word "slacks". I would even go with "trousers" over "slacks".


ella said...

I refer you to this article on the subject. The US version of the commercial does not, in the end, use the word 'vagina', but it is still very well done. The Week misinterpreted the actual story - the advert was never banned, but the ad agency had to pitch several versions to the standards committee before their final version ('vagina'-free) was approved.

Erin Davis said...

And how many cialis/viagra commercials use the term "if your erection lasts more than four hours..." Give me a break, indeed!

Laura Payne said...

ella - thank you for directing me to that article. It is an informative article and an interesting site of which I had never heard.

Here is a direct quote from the article:

"Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT [the agency which produced the ads], said that after being informed that it could not use the word vagina in advertising by three broadcast networks, it shot the ad cited above with the actress instead saying "down there," which was rejected by two of the three networks. (Both Ms. Harris and representatives from the brand declined to specify the networks.)"

Semantics, semantics, semantics. I might have to agree with The Week magazine though; in my mind, being told you "can not use" is just about synonymous with being told somethin is "banned".

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