Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's the Name of That Cee Lo Song?

CEE LO GREEN HAS an Internet sensation with the song in the above video. But it will never get airtime because of the song's title, chorus and punch line. Such language is prohibited over public airwaves (radio and broadcast TV) by the Federal Communications Commission.

Print outlets are not prohibited by the government from using such language. Still, the New York Times wrote a 1,078-word story about the song on Monday and never revealed the lyrics, let alone the title. Instead, the author described it as "a certain crude phrase."

Should newspapers run curse words if they are relevant to the story?

17 comments:

Matthew Albasi said...

Absolutely. I feel as if Blake Eskin makes my point perfectly when he
says, "I am not the first parent to spit out his cereal upon discovering too late that this “family” newspaper has an article about beheading or child abuse on the front page, or gory photographs of a war zone or natural disaster."

I feel that we as a country have a strange idea as to what is 'OK' and what is not. Discussing a genocide in disturbing detail? Perfectly fine. Saying 'fuck' even when it is perfectly in context? Absolutely not.

It just doesn't make sense.

Benjamin Lang said...

What strikes me is the fact that they've written a story without naming the song. What happens if someone wants to go look at the song themselves? They haven't included a vital piece of information that is absolutely essential to the story! What if they wrote a story about a massive wildfire that was threatening homes, but didn't include the area where it was happening?

Ali Watkins said...

This was a difficult topic for me to establish an opinion on. On one hand, I feel that journalists have a duty to citizens and their country to set an example. By using profanity in stories, it may appear that newspapers are stooping to lower levels- the use of profane words seems to emit a lack of professionalism. However, it's not the journalist's own words, hence should the newspaper bear the brunt of the criticism? For example, the journalist is not saying "Fucking Cee Lo wrote a fucking song called "Fuck You"." In that case, it would be unprofessional to publish such language. It's an indirect quotation. The journalist is reporting that Cee Lo titled one of his songs "Fuck You". Should the journalist that reports this, and his newspaper employer, be put under the gun for simply reporting factual information that is the fruit of someone else's mind? I personally believe, that no, they shouldn't. Full disclosure is essential to maintaining the true nature of journalism. Tell us what Cee Lo entitled his song. If he's willing to put it out there, the public should be aware of it.

Madeline Bates said...

Yes. Even the most conservative reader would have to admit it's a little ridiculous that within the 1,078 word story written on this song, the paper failed to mention the actual title even once. Individual opinions on morality, professionalism and appropriate language aside, the title of the song is possibly the most relevant piece of information to the story. The paper, presumably in their aim not to alienate readers/advertisers, failed to actually report on the story that they dedicated such an extensive piece to. Is the word "fuck" even really so shocking anymore? What is so scary about publishing relevant/necessary profanity in the news? The ironic part of it all is that the Times probably could have avoided most of the criticism that they now face by simply printing the word. By skirting around it, they've made it the big "fuck" elephant in the room, and they've made themselves look incompetent in the process.

Paki said...

How many kids too young to curse read the New York Times anyway? At the very least, I would have expected the writer to use asterisks. Why bother to write the article if you aren't going to name the song? What are these journalists getting paid for if I have to look up what they're writing about on my own precious time?

Joie' Johnson-Walker said...

I absolutely agree. Especially in this case since it is the title of the song. I honestly feel that by not mentioning the title of the song, the journalist is not giving due credit to the artist and the people who helped to make the song. I mean, it is news and this is the legit name of the song so, i dont see the big deal. People curse all the time. If children dont hear these words from their parents, they are eventually going to be exposed to them anyway. I mean, our culture is filled with profanity.

Nia Prater said...

I understand not wanting to print obscene language in a major newspaper, but not even referring to the song's title at all is poor reporting in my opinion. I mean, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a little article on the song and referred to it as " [Bleep] You" which I think is acceptable. It certainly gets the point across. But with the New York Times article, you can't even tell the song's name and that's the whole point of the story.

Geo said...

If we all know what "Bleep you" means, why be cryptic about it? Why not just spell it out at that point?

Is printing "F**k you" any different than writing out the whole word?

- George
(your foul-mouthed teacher)

Ian Watson said...

I do believe I've said this before in a post with a similar theme last semester, but I still think that newspapers should not censor foul language if it's relevant to the story.

The story is about a song called "Fuck You." Failing to point out that the song is called "Fuck You," let alone not having a single "fuck" in the story, seems like they're failing to accurately portray the song. Heck, if it wasn't for the fact that I've already heard it (being the internet junkie that I am), I would have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. It would make me not care about the article, and I would most likely not read it.

And that's the worst kind of "Fuck You" any news outlet could get nowadays.

Ian Watson said...

Fun little side note: Apparently, the actual music video for Fuck You has Fuck censored as F**k in the in-video title, yet it isn't censored in the actual song.

Censorship, man. I'll never understand their logic.

Madeline Bates said...

"Is printing "F**k you" any different than writing out the whole word?"

Yes, I believe it is to the artist. Unfortunately, I can't ask Cee Lo myself, but the title of the song (in case everybody forgot) is "Fuck You," not "F**K You." I would assume that changing it just for the sake of perpetuating some conventional ideals would be at least a little bit irksome to the artist. Especially since with such an obvious title it seems like Lo is trying to put across a very specific message. What gives the paper the right to change that?

Madeline Bates said...

And even though Ian pretty much just pooped all over my argument by referencing the censorship in Cee Lo's actual video, I still think the paper is remiss for not having reported on the story to its fullest extent. The news was there, they just chose not to print it.

Jonathan said...

As was noted in the class, there were advertisers to consider too. How many would have gone "The Times is publishing foul language, and I don't want my company associated with that."

As a few people have pointed out though, the name of the song *is* kind of essential to the article, and thus should be referenced. So to answer George's question, and kind of bounce off Madeline's, printing "F*** You" would be different than printing "Fuck You," as it could be the paper saying "We do not condone the use of obscene language; however, it IS essential to convey the information, so we will compromise and print enough that you will realize what we are talking about without us actually using the word."

Gina Marie said...

The only thing I really can say is that the Times were going to be criticized regardless if they published the name of the song or not. Some people are bothered that they didn't write "Fuck You" because it is of course the name of the song; making it a vital piece of information. On the other hand if they did publish the name of the song there would be numerous people outraged by the use of this "inappropriate" language. Either way you there were going to be unhappy people because everyone has different opinions, beliefs, and views on the world. The Times had to weigh the pros and cons of writing the actual name of the song. I think they made the best decision in not publishing it just to save face and not chance the consequences of losing advertisers and readers.

Alison Curran said...

when people pick up their paper and read through the stories, they don't want to read stories that have profane language in them. however, it was the name of the song. but newspapers have the right to decide if they want to run a story with or without that type of language in it. it is very rare to find a story printed in any newspaper that has profane language in it. newspapers are all about their reputation and make sure that their reputation is kept at a high level.

no matter how they printed the story they would receive criticism for it. if they printed the story with the profane language, the public would be very critical about it. the public would say that they don't like to read newspapers with profane language but then there is the other side that would say well it is just the name of the song so what is the problem? it is up to the newspaper to decide if they want to print language like this and their readers just has to deal with it.

Maura Lieberman said...

That is indeed the title of the song, however, I imagine the New York Times didn't want to be criticized for writing it out? It is the title of the song though, so it should have been published.

Cassandra D'Amelio said...

I loved this song when it first came out. As one YouTube blogger described it "If I didn't understand English, I would have thought that this would be the happiest song ever". He must be referring to the upswing harmony and beat that makes listeners want to dance and light heartidly tell of their gold-digging ex. As I said before, I loved the song, until the radio destroyed it. Some stations now use "F you","Screw you", or just a plain beeping sound. None of those options come close to portraying the same sense of passion as the original version. The original message that soul singing Cee-Lo was trying to get across is now tarnished and distorted.
Although it is legal to write curse words, this media was meant to be heard not read. The fact that the New York Times did not publish the word fuck in this article seems like lack of proper reporting on their part. If they were going to write an article on a song entitled "Fuck you" and not incorporate the main word within the song that made the piece famous is bizzare. If a curse word is relevant to the story, newspapers should definatly be able to publish the article. Even if the word is not as directly relevant (as in the case of Cee-Lo's song) the word should still be able to be printed. Although deemed crude by society, many curse words are the best fit for really getting a message across. Anyone old enough to read a newspaper has most definatly heard curse words throughout their lives, nothing new. As for the radio, it is the parent's responsibility to censor which radio stations their child hears. Even if the song is being run on a mainstream station, lets face it, most children have already heard these words at home, outside, etc. it is nothing new. For the super conservative who are offended by "bad words", they should simply choose to skim over the word or change the song on the radio.
I believe protecting the First Ammendment right for freedom of speech far outweighs the panic to protect semi-virgin ears.