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"Whoever came up with this is an ass[bleep]! Ass!... Hole?... Ass[bleep]! ...Television makes a lot of sense." note
An instance where a work is censored so randomly or ineffectually that the attempted censorship doesn't hide any
thing and makes you, the viewer, wonder why they even bothered. Perhaps the Censor Box
is so small that you can clearly see what's behind it, or a word is bleeped out in some scenes but not in others. Maybe they cut out all the swearing but left in that scene with the women's nudist colony and the tub of bacon grease. At any rate, it's clear that the work is supposed
to be censored but ultimately nothing is actually concealed.
This trope can occur because of simple incompetence on the censors' part, but it tends to occur on purpose just as often as not. It can be a way of getting back at the Moral Guardians
— fulfilling their demand for censorship in a perfunctory and half-asterisked
way. This trope can also be Played for Laughs
if the writers just want to mess around with the admittedly-funny bleep
noises. And on top of all that, inconsistency in the censorship may be the result of a Censor Decoy
— an earlier version of the work that was blatantly offensive in order to make the work the writers wanted
to produce seem tamer
Compare Narrative Profanity Filter
and Curse Cut Short
. See also Censored for Comedy
, which is what this trope can become.
open/close all folders
An*me and M*nga
- The dub of Tokyo Mew Mew, despite usually trying to cut out Aizawa Mint's crush on Zakuro, had the cast imagining who a character's boyfriend might be and replaced Mint's thoughts of a male figure with Zakuro.
- The Doujinshi culture. Due to Japanese censorship laws genitalia must be covered, but it is not uncommon for doujins to have very short, thin and almost transparent censor bars that pretty much fail to cover anything and only serve as a legal pass for publishing. A meme has even sprung up, of captioning these sorts of pictures with "thank goodness that was censored, or I might have been offended". note
- When the anime of Gintama uses censor bleeps, they frequently bleep out only a single syllable of the word that's being said. It's clearly being done for the sake of comedy at times, such as when they bleep out the "P" in PSP, only to visibly show somebody playing a PSP with the logo completely in view on the back of it.
- Repeatedly Used on This Very Wiki: sh*t, f***, and f*cking are frequently seen.note
- And pretty much the entire rest of the Internet, where people are apparently squeamish about using certain words (even PG ones — "@$$" is strangely common) but not enough to phrase their posts differently. Even on sites with no word filters. In fact, especially on sites with no word filters, since the ones that do are more likely to have mods crack down on this sort of thing.
- Notably averted on fantasy and sci-fi site Elfwood, where certain gestures (the finger, the shocker) and the Three Big bad words (shit, fuck and cunt) have always been banned, including partially censored instances. The rule is, it has to be omitted or completely censored. Saying "but s*** stands for sand" won't get you a pass.
- Supposedly L3375p34k was originally invented to bypass the automatic profanity filters on internet forums without actually censoring anything.
- Dave Barry Slept Here parodies the Watergate Scandal's released tapes:
Because you have, you have problems with the, with the [expletive deleted], with the ... KLAUS:
Yeah [garbled], with the, uh, with the ... NIXON:
... with, uh, with the [expletive deleted]. KLAUS:
... with the ... NIXON:
[Expletive deleted]. KLAUS:
... with the Smoot-Hawley
Live Action Tel*vision
- Many television shows that bleep out words don't actually conceal the word at all. You can see the person's mouth, and often part of the word will be audible, so it's quite obvious what they're saying.
- Played with in an episode of The IT Crowd: Reynholm congratulates an employee on being fast on the swear button. A few seconds later, someone else says "fucking" and the bleep is missed by a full half-second, just enough for the whole word to get through.
- Sebastian Bach once demonstrated on a VH-1 television show how one can say the words "ass" and "hole" on television but not both words in quick succession. To demonstrate, he'd say the word "ass," then, after a long pause, would say "hole" and neither word would be bleeped; then, he'd repeat this over and over with shorter pauses in between until he finally did get bleeped. After that, he repeated this exercise from the beginning using the words "god" and "damn" with the same exact results.
- Happens on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report all the time!
- The "Go F*ck Yourself" gospel choir, first glorious outing here. Not only do the bleeps make it more obvious that the choir is swearing, they also pinpoint every swearword which you might otherwise have missed.
- Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe has this episode bleeped out for the first obscenity - then is followed immediately by an Atomic F-Bomb with no bleeping.
- On at least one episode of This Is Wonderland, a perpetrator roared out a Precision F-Strike, which when first aired on CBC Television, it was censored. Unfortunately the scene takes place in an old Toronto City Hall courtroom, whose walls are infamous for echoing...
- On the 2012 BET Awards (which are live), often announcers would say the n-word and then the word after that would be silenced (for example, if someone said nigga, please, the please would end up being censored). They later overcompensated by censoring an entire verse of Rick Ross' performance.
- In Tim & Eric's HBO segment "Just 3 Boyz", the entire scene where Zach accuses Tim and Eric of masturbating into a chicken is riddled with misplaced horn honks.
Eric: We gotta sync it up. When we say "cum" you hit the honk. *honk*
- One of the more unintentionally hilarious moments from Howard Stern's TV replays of his radio show involved a behind-the-scenes shot of Gary explaining some of the finesse of radio censoring to a guest. The fact that it ends up censored when played on network TV just drives the absurd point home all the better.
Gary: So for example, you could say "carrot", and you could say "ass" but you couldn't say "Stuck a carrot in my [BLEEP]".
- History Channel's Pawn Stars has the Old Man doing this verbatim to the three others.
Old Man: [Bleep] Dammit, Chumlee!
- @midnight: For whatever reason, they were showing a greeting card with a cross-section of a "pregnant cat lady", with the cat clearly on its way out. The censors had pixelated just the breast.
- Bar Rescue: An owner was wearing a shirt reading "I have the dick. So I make the rules". Somehow, verbal references that acknowledged the shirt were uncensored, yet the word "Dick" was blurred out on the shirt itself.
- The radio-edited version of the song "Keys" by Soul Position. All the curse-words are blanked out, but due to the echo-effect on the vocals, you can clearly hear various "fuck"s or "shit"s echoing off in the background after the censored bits.
- The radio edit of the song "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz contains the line "Gonna do just what the fuck I came here to do". The 'fuck' is, of course, censored but slightly late and with a distortion rather than silence, so the end result is that it sounds exactly like they're singing "Gonna do just what the fuck I'm here to do."
- Quite frankly most censorship in music results in this, especially when the censored word is part of a rhyme. In the context of the lyrics the intended meaning is generally pretty obvious anyway.
- Kid Rock's "Cowboy" parodies this:
Cuss like a sailor, drink like a mick!
Only words of wisdom are to [RADIO EDIT]
- For the edit, the music cuts out entirely and the words are spoken by a robotic female voice, actually drawing more attention to it.
- Another Kid Rock song gets way worse when they try to censor drug use: "we were smoking funny things" becomes "we were ___ing funny things".
- The censored version of "American Bad Ass" also substitutes "Radio Edit" in the same way as "Cowboy" for at least one of its censored lines. Other words are just muted.
- The American Top 40 edit of Rihanna's "S&M" silences "sex" the first time it is used in the chorus, but not the second.
- Parodied by Flight of the Conchords in their song "Mother'uckas". Throughout the song they self-censor themselves by skipping certain letters in swear words, but all it does it just highlight the swears.
Too many mutha'uckas
-uckin’ with my shi...
- "Jerry Springer" by "Weird Al" Yankovic features a spoken section in the middle during which a character says "bibleepitch"; that is, the bleep appears to have been inserted between sounds instead of dubbed over, so you can hear the whole word (just with a gap in the middle). Justified in that the woman was addressing an actual bitch, so they had to make the pun obvious while still aping The Jerry Springer Show's bleep-ridden dialogue.
- Drake's song "Best I Ever Had" has a clean version that changes the chorus from "You da fuckin' best" to "You da, you da best". However, they fail to censor other words such as "niggas" (which ends up sounding like nigs) and "pussy" (which ends up as pissy).
- Someone complained about the use of the "ass" in the song "Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny." Someone else responded with a version that censored enough words to make it sound... wrong. And didn't censor the "ass."
- The radio edit of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" changes the often-used "this is fucking awesome" to "this is, this is awesome".
- Some radio versions also censor the word "ass" out of the lyric "The people like 'Damn! That's a cold ass honky'"... But if you listen carefully there's a backing vocal that repeats that line, which still goes uncensored.
- Weezer's "El Scorcho" has the opening line "Goddamn you half Japanese girls". The two variations on the radio edit both censor "god" but not "damn" - one bleeps out "god", the other just briefly reverses the vocals for that one syllable, making it sound like "dog damn".
- "We Are All On Drugs" had to be bowdlerised into "We Are All In Love" in order for the video to get airplay.... But the very beginning of the video has a clear shot of Rivers Cuomo reading a newspaper where the real song title is in large print as the front page headline, and this scene wasn't cut or blurred out.
- The word "shit" in Les Savy Fav's "One Way Widow" is bleeped out. This was done willingly by the band in order to make it sound like a radio-edited single.
- Incredibly, there's a clean version of A$AP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems". The first line of the hook "I love bad bitches, that's my fuckin' problem" becomes "I love bad bad, that's my prob my problem", while most other instances of those or similar words are muted out.
- iTunes apparently has a policy of censoring potentially offensive song or album titles with asterisks, but not artist names. It's understandable because censoring intentionally awkward band names could make certain artists impossible to search for, but it gets a little silly when you look up the band Holy Fuck and find that the title of their Self-Titled Album is censored even though the band name is not.
- "The Greenhouse" by Animals That Swim had a rather strange edit for its single release, the word "marijuana" was cut... yet unambiguous references to "pot" and "hemp weed", as well as a pun on "grass", were all allowed to stand. A Precision F-Strike was also cut.
- Aerosmith's title track on the album "Just Push Play" parodies this in its chorus.
Just push play, they're gonna beep it anyway.
- However, in the last chorus, they actually reverse it, leaving the Precision F-Strike while bleeping the word Beep.
- This attempt at censoring identity. So that others don't have to click the link, a photo is shown with a man's face censored. However, there's another photo with the man's face uncensored in a circle pointing towards the censored picture.
- In the flash game Reincarnation: Let the Evil Times Roll, you at some point acquire a "sleeping" demon fetus. The word "sleeping" is in quotes in your inventory, and you end up feeding it to a dog.
- Rock Band:
- In Green Day Rock Band, Billie Joe Armstrong smells like shih.
- The censorship in DLC is pretty inconsistent when it comes to things other than swearing. Lampshaded in a Harmonix panel once on what apparently is and isn't acceptable ina T-rated game. "Some marijuana" - not acceptable. "High on cocaine" used repeatedly thoughout the song - acceptable. "Drop trou and squeeze out a Cleveland steamer on my chest" - acceptable.
- "This Ain't a Scene" from Fallout Boy, like the trope name, mutes out the "God" from "Goddamn". The resulting vocal line is actually pretty catchy.
- "Holiday in Cambodia" from Dead Kennedys features "Where you'll kiss [mute] or crack", presumably having a choice between the two words and keeping "crack" due to that word running longer and thus having a bigger impact on gameplay. There must have been some strange discussions in the Harmonix offices surrounding this trope.
- Simple, easy to understand example from Team Fortress 2's Scout. (Considering it's Valve we're talking about, this is likely completely f*cking intentional.)
- In Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, the characters occasionally swear, but some of this is left in. However, some of the more provocative swears are bleeped or censored out. This is especially prevalent with Ulala, who swears the most. (She starts off some battles saying, "Don't underestimate me, you *bleep*ing bastards!) This actually doubles as Getting Crap Past the Radar, since you can clearly tell what the characters are saying (Such as when Baofu asks, "Who the f##k are you?"), but since they were bleeped, the game got away with a "T" rating in NA.
- Done in Poker Night at the Inventory, censoring one of Strong Bad's curse words in the line "That is some *bleep*ed up *bleep*, man!" while leaving Tycho's lines like "Fuck this shit," perfectly audible. Averted by the fact that according to the subtitles, Strong Bad literally DID say "That is some *bleep*ed up *bleep*, man!"
- Played straight with the subtitles for the aforementioned line for Tycho. Despite the fact that Tycho says the words uncensored, the subtitles censor the two words.
- This applies only if you turn off the censors. If they're on, Tycho's swear words are covered with bleeps.
- Done in Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space; it even has a puzzle where a list of censored words is replaced by a grocery list, from that point on all instances of the new words become censored instead!
- This Basic Instructions comic. He's hiding his friend's identity. Of course, it's a joke, because anyone who read the comic knows it is Rick. And in the very next panel he stops even trying.
- At one point, on Pintsize's Twitter, he posts a link of his usual smut, filth, and sanity-destroying material, this containing a laughably small censor bar, with Pintsize remarking in the tweet "It's a good thing they have that censor bar there. I have no idea what's going on here."
- Mountain Time censors nudity during activities like sex and showering, despite the fact that the characters are all stick figures and therefore don't look any different naked than they do clothed. Probably Played for Laughs.
- Zoophobia features "sh*t" and "f*ck" pretty frequently.
- Final Fantasy VII: The Sevening, mostly in line with the original game and its inconsistent censoring, censors Cid's swears but not Barret's, to Cloud's utter confusion.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd demonstrated this hypocrisy in one of his videos.
- Happens often in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series
- Has become a staple in most Abridged Series.
- Sailor Moon Abridged gets special mention for using a klaxxon alarm exclusively to censor the word "fuck". And only the word "fuck".
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged had fun with this trope in one episode where Vegeta's swears are censored by Jeice's scouter beeps (his scouter was acting shonky) except for at the end. Played with at the end of the episode:
- None Piece:
Zoro: I dragged his ass two miles and you had the *bleep* key the whole *bleep* fucking time!?
- Todd in the Shadows tries to show that even he doesn't have any N-Word Privileges during his review Kanye West and Jay-Z's "Niggas in Paris". The first time he had to say the name of the song, he stopped himself and asked for "Ni***as in Paris" to show up on screen. At the end of the review, he almost says it again, but stops once more and points to the bottom of the screen. It now says "Niggas in P***s". He sighs in disappointment. "What the hell do I pay you people for?"
- JonTron once did a video segment entitled: "Shit That Fucks Games Up".
- Parodied in Source Wars: Day of Defeat vs. The Hidden: at the beginning the hosts mention that some viewers had problems with the uncensored swearing in the first episode, and so have their technical staff ready to censor their swears live. Said technical staff is shown to only consist of a sleepy old man, who either misses bleeping out swears entirely, or fails to do so until a few seconds after they're uttered.
Frank Futter: [The Hidden]'s off to the middle flag now, but he can't capture it because the point requires two people! You have got to be kidding me again!
Turd Schnugel: Didn't we think of this shit before the game started? [beep]
- In Benzaie's review of Hunter, he makes disparaging comments about games which Hunter beat to the punch, with increasingly nonsensical censorship.
"I'm sorry, GTAIV
, but you can suck my ass! **"
- Due to being a collaborative series, the SCP Foundation has some inconsistent standards on censorship. To give an example, there's a low number of articles using the standard "[REDACTED]" or black boxes to censor swears, or even specifically reading "[EXPLETIVE REDACTED]" while others leave curse words intact. This is especially evident in the joke SCP page: One title reads "A Steaming Pile of ████"note even though a few lines above it is "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT THING."
- Red vs. Blue went through a very brief period where Rooster Teeth would censor some of the harsher language. This was largely due to email complaints from parents. However, they quickly changed their minds and replaced the clean episodes with uncut ones. This was decided upon because the staff believed they shouldn't be the ones to take care of other peoples' kids, and that if questionable material is a problem, Red Vs Blue should the least of their concerns.
- A series of four Norwegian, humoristic YouTube videos called Fauskerånerennote uses this as a Running Gag; the main character (a stereotypical råner (see the note) being interviewed) swears quite a bit, and the bleeping sound never manages to cover it.
- Parodied in Third Rate Gamer's Yoshis Island "review". Certain words like "shit" and "fuck" are partially bleeped out, usually in a way that makes it really obvious what the swear was. However, words like "dickwaffles" and "crap" are kept.
- This video from The Best Show In The Universe has one censor bar have the word "FUCK" written on it.
- In the mailbag episode of Wacky Game Jokez 4 Kidz, Micky tries to say "goddammit". "Dammit" gets through just fine but "God" is bleeped.
- South Park makes bleep noises all the time, deliberately, so it carries over to the DVD releases too. Since it's almost entirely adults who watch it anyway, we're perfectly capable of filling in the gaps for ourselves.
"Hey Wendy, what's an 'assh***'?"
- In one episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Space Ghost calls his guest an asshole. The thing is, the bleep is between the syllables of the word, so it really doesn't cover anything up.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force had a case like this in a Halloween-themed episode:
Willie Nelson: Uh... What are you doing here?
Carl: I live here, ass-***!
- At some point around season 17 at the latest, in The Simpsons it became taboo to show any character's bare butt. Apart from Simpsons usually airing near Seth MacFarlane shows which lack this rule, there's other reasons why this doesn't make much sense. Earlier episodes occasionally re-air and are not editted to fit this rule, and there is one point where Bart has an Imagine Spot with a giant gold statue of him mooning — completely uncovered. So apparantly it's okay to show one's rear as long as it's depicted in a gold (keep in mind many characters in this show, including Bart, are yellow) statue that resembles them completely.
- Similar to the Simpsons example but more of a Double Standard than a censorship crackdown later on in its life, King of the Hill will not show a woman's ass. This is obvious during the episode "Sug Night" — Hank and Bill's butts are in clear view while they are naked, but in Hank's dream Nancy is once censored by a suspiciously held pack of buns (which is moved out of the way when she turns). Already odd, later in the nude beach there's a shot showing Hank and Peggy from behind. Peggy is covered by a flower, while a hummingbird flies in a few seconds later over Hank. And there's one-shot nudist characters Becky and Mandy from the same beach scene, who are always either behind brush or only shown above the waist.
- Joe Morgan once wrote the following in Sports Illustrated.
Joe Torre met with George Steinbrenner for a nice lunch in Tampa the other day, and I'm sure at some point the subject probably turned to the Yankees. And George, I'd bet, at some point looked at his manager and said, "#$!&@*
- Thus was the meme "Fuck the heck?" born.
- Infamously, G4's broadcasting of E3 2011 censored "Mr. Caffiene"'s profanity-laden spiel - but the wrong parts of it. Generally, when Mr. Caffeine said "shit", the actual swear word would be uncensored but would be immediately followed by two or three seconds of censor bleep.
- The same thing used to happen very frequently in the world of Professional Wrestling when the concept of doing everything live with only a 7 second delay was still new and the timing wasn't yet practiced. It happens far less often now, but the TV audience will hear "I think he's a big pile of shit an——-four weeks ago!" while any later rebroadcast will have the censoring put in properly in post production.
- Speaking of pro wrestling, there was that one time where Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit was shown in the audience at a WWE event and he flipped off the camera. WWE tried to censor this by cutting the audio but leaving the actual picture untouched.
- Because of Japan's censorship laws, doujins have to be censored, but since the laws are outdated but nobody is willing to change them, most hentai artists put in censorship that is quite nominal and hides absolutely nothing.
- On an April 2014 All In with Chris Hayes, Bill Maher is censored asking if he can use the word "asshole", and then immediately afterwards manages to get away with "hole of an ass".
Egads, this trope is filthy! Hm, try spoilering out some of those apostrophes...