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06 Maj 2006 @ 17:15
Two more words you can't read on iTunes (and one you can)  

Further to my previous observations on the subject, be it hereby known that the iTunes Store's algorithm can't censor its way out of a paper bag. The latest evidence comes from Penn Jillette's celebrity playlist, which, as you might guess, has a couple of risqué items in it (dude likes to épater le bourgeois, if you know what I mean). For example, George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" is on there, and if you are skeptical about Jillette's claim that that's a piece of music, you will probably be even more skeptical of his assertion that the playlist "is, perversely and anally (and those are very different things) in alphabetical order." (It's not alphabetical by track title; it's not alphabetical by artist's name (first or last); maybe it's alphabetical by lyrics?)

Penn Jillette

Anyway, iTunes considers two words in the track titles in Jillettte's playlist bleepworthy, and neither of them is among Carlin's seven. Track seven, by Kinky Friedman ("the next governor of Texas"), shows up as "A*****e from El Paso," although, oddly enough, the 30-second preview of the song that iTunes will play for you contains the chorus, which begins, "I'm proud to be an asshole from El Paso." So you're allowed to hear the word asshole on iTunes, but you're not allowed to read it.

Track one, by Candye Kane, shows up as "M**********n Blues," and I hope I may be forgiven for having assumed that the ten asterisks stood for the letters "otherfucki," but they don't. Fortunately, as in the case of "Asshole from El Paso," the bleeped out word can be gleaned auditorially, and it turns out that the missing letters are "asturbatio." Um, wtf? Last I looked, the topic of masturbation was taboo, but the word itself was not. Further research confirms that iTunes does systematically bleep masturbation, and eliminates the possibility that "M**********n Blues" (asterisks included) might be Kane's actual title for the song.

So, I thought, this is a case where the iTunes bleeping policy results in the neutralization of a contrast: the surface form "m**********n" is ambiguous between two possible underlying representations. Turns out it's not—because iTunes doesn't bleep motherfuckin (with or without the addition of a g or an apostrophe at the end). I'm beginning to think that the slipshod censorship is really just there for entertainment value, and to encourage people like me to search for songs we would otherwise never be exposed to.

Nuværende humør: amused{a, be}mused / derisive
Nuværende musik: „Wahre Freundschaft soll nicht wanken”
Vizcacha: Liquorchillyrodent on 6. Maj, 2006 14:55 (UTC)
Maybe someone was worried you would think it was *onkeybeati*. That's a fearsome word to read.

In the song that Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock sang together, he sings the line "... fuelin' up on cocaine and whiskey." A national syndication company, living by the motto "America's children will never try what they cannot hear on the radio," allowed only "co*****." Whiskey? Hell yeah, knock yourselves out!
Q. Pheevr: Cello case sketchq_pheevr on 6. Maj, 2006 15:50 (UTC)

Plus ça change....

Henrytahnan on 7. Maj, 2006 22:16 (UTC)
Mmmmm, donkeybeatin'. Every mp3 on iTunes that has "donkeybeatin" in its title censors it.
Merle: lambdamerle_ on 6. Maj, 2006 16:30 (UTC)
Vive le c********p!

And, ambiguities aside, it is a very good thing they have not learned the lessons of tolerable password protection, where they display the same number of asterisks no matter how long the password is (otherwise you would know the length and could better attack it).
Prof. Bleen6_bleen_7 on 19. August, 2006 02:51 (UTC)
George Carlin also (in 1974, long before Pixar started putting fart jokes into its "bloopers" credits) made a distinction between fucking and farting. He pointed out that on TV you could talk about fucking; you could refer to fucking; you just couldn't call it "fucking." But farts were so bad you couldn't even talk about them!