Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Season 2 Episode 6

Profanity

0
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Aug 12, 2004 on Showtime
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
43 votes
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Episode Summary

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A whole show on words and the power we give them, focusing on the latest actions of the FCC and other anti-profanity groups. The First Amendment is under attack. Hey, what country do we live in? Special Guest Experts for this episode include: Ginny Foster (President, Hush-Up.Com) Jim Lafferty (The Traditional Values Coalition) John Morse (President and Publisher, Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Jim O'Connor (Author) Robert Corn Revere (First Amendment Attorney) Ron Collins (Author, The Trials of Lenny Bruce) John McWhorter (Linguist) Mancow Muller (Radio Talk Show Host)moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Penn & Teller tackle Profanity.

    7.0
    This episode was pretty good dealing with the issue of profanity in our daily life and how the government with the FCC are trying to regulate what we say. The aren’t trying to change what we are thinking or our attitudes but how we say it. Or as Penn puts it they just want to change the gift wrap but not the package. The lady with the campaign on not swearing with her little t-shirts and knick-knacks was just to much. She wanted us to replace a swear word with something like holy cow in Spanish… I’m not much of a person who swears in life but when I do I mean it. It’s funny how certain words can bother people so much and who know in 20 or 30 years what the new swear words will be and which ones loose favor. Well I guess after this episode I still believe it is okay for you to use profanity but you had better mean it or use it in at a appropriate time. If not to me you could seem like a ignorant jerk with tourette’s.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Things written on the graffiti wall during the episode:
      -"Ginny Means Nothing" -Buddha
      -Jim is a myopic, puny, ignoramus!
      -"Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have...The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." -Thomas Jefferson (and an arrow that says No Humbug)
      -"Today we seem to think that the rights of the individual take precedence over the comfort of the majority." -Jim O'Connor (and an arrow that says Provincial, Prissy, Monomaniacal, Self-appointed, Language Czar)
      -Not even the best hairstyle can make an ugly mind pretty.

    • Things O'Connor says you will do if you curb your cursing by his method (as per a sign next to him at his seminar):
      -Sound more intelligent
      -Communicate more clearly
      -Be more pleasant
      -Avoid offending others
      -Show emotional control
      -Earn respect
      -Improve your relationships
      -Avoid conflicts
      -Be a happier person
      -Contribute to a better society

    • Words played on Penn and Teller's checkerboard-come-scrabble game: Bereft, Of (twice), Curse, and Ashcroft.

    • When Penn's voiceover tells Ginny Foster that "they just did" say George Carlin's 7 dirty words, he's referring not only to the cameraman who just said them, but also the fact that each word is said by almost all their experts at some point during the show, thus meaning they'd said the words as a whole multiple times.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Penn: When you really think about this issue, these straight-laced solipsists aren't asking that we control our anger. They aren't asking that we change our behavior or that we treat each other with more respect or patience. They aren't trying to be nicer. They only want you to shout something they feel appropriate when you feel like shouting. They don't care about the package, just the gift wrap. They don't advocate peace. They don't care if you speak with hate. They want only to change the exact words as if the WORDS are what makes discourse hateful or distasteful. They think the avoidance of certain words is gonna signal an education. HUMBUG! It's the words you use, not the ones you don't use that show what you know.

    • Foster: I do think God cares about the language we use, otherwise he would not have said in the Ten Commandments, "don't use God's name in vain". [cut] A substitute that I have is when I'm dealing with my students or even in my home, I would say "I swear to Buddha". Because if you're going to profane a deity, I guess it might as well not be your own.
      Penn: HOLD THE BOAT! Once again, instead of profaning your own God, you're profaning someone else's. Ginny, you're pompous, empty, and self-righteous! You're pretending that YOUR God is so important that OUR use of his name is obscene while those other gods are fodder for your filthy rantings!

    • Foster's friend: [upon receiving an anti-profanity sign for her salon] Ok, I'm gonna set it right here, so everybody can see it. [sets sign on table] SH*T. [laughs]
      Foster: Oh my God, why did you say that? [laughs]
      Penn: Oops! Ginny wants less profanity...so we'll translate what her hairdresser friend meant by her expletive:
      Ginny...Stephanie wanted to tell you that she likes your friendship. And your shared community. And your patronage is important to her. But she needed to remind you that this is her shop, and here, she'll talk as she pleases. She wanted you to know that she finds your prosteletizing wrongheaded and insulting. And the easiest way for her to say all that and more was to...swear and laugh. You laughed too. You were embarrassed by how clear the message was and "santa vaca" would not have done the trick today in our culture. It's embarrassing that she refuted your whole stance with one word, but the English language and the American culture are wonderful things, Ginny. A lot of truth is all around you. Maybe you need to be quiet, stop making rules, and listen to your friends.

    • Penn: We called the FCC and asked to speak to someone, ANYONE, about this new censorship. They said...no. I guess all of us watching aren't important enough taxpayers to bother answering.

    • Lafferty: I don't know that real people talk that way. I mean, if they're real people, they're not real people that I have known. And I've worked as a reporter, I've worked for several Presidents of the United States and never heard any of them privately or publicly use language like that.
      Penn: Maybe when he says "US" he means "Uganda South". He SURELY doesn't mean "United States".
      Bush: [to Cheney at a rally]There's Adam Claymer, a major league a**h*le from the New York Times...

    • Foster: Santa Vaca!
      Penn: Santa vaca...santa vaca...you have a Spanish-English dictionary? Ok, "santa" is Saint, of course, and vaca is cow. Saint cow. So she is literally saying "holy cow" in Spanish. But "holy cow" is a derogatory reference to the Hindu belief in the sacredness of cows. Ginny certainly doesn't believe in the holiness of cows, so taking that Lord's name in vain is perfectly acceptable. She doesn't buy the "holy cow" myth. Therefore, if you didn't actually believe that Jesus is God, and most of the world doesn't. If you were, for example, a Hindu, shouting...[Teller drops a bowling ball on his foot] JESUS CHRIST...'s name in a situation where you...or someone you know...somehow...accidentally...dropped a bowling ball on YOUR FOOT...would be, by Ginny's standards...perfectly polite.

    • Lafferty: We see it as, that there are classes of words and that profanity is maybe the lowest denomination among the classes of words. And we think that people generally should seek the highest form of language and the best means of communication that they can.
      Penn: Higher form of language? Oh, you mean like UNPLEASANT, MYOPIC, IMPOTENT DESPOT!

    • Foster: The use of profanity degrades society. English is a living language. We have an opportunity for it to bring life, and when we say ugly things, then that living language becomes an agent of death.
      Penn: AGENT OF DEATH???? Well, I guess she's not against hyperbolic speech!

  • NOTES (2)

    • Penn does not curse once during this episode. Teller, of course, doesn't say anything.

    • The opening credits read "Humbug" rather than "Bullshit." This is to prove a point -- the word "Humbug" used to be just as shocking as the phrase "Bullshit," and they both have the same meaning.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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