Everyone knows what young child actor Peter Billingsley said in the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story.”
Now, the hit ABC TV show “Modern Family” had a child — no, wait, a toddler, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, age 3, who plays Lily — say the F-word on this week’s show.
Age 3! As in, “just graduated from diapers last year.” As in, “most likely still sleeps with a bottle at night.” As in, “THE word, the big one, the queen mother of dirty words, the ‘F-dash-dash-dash’ word!”
Of course, they had to go right for the big guns. No warming up with little cuss words such as H-E-double-hockey-sticks that are already approved by the networks to use.
And the producers didn’t have this tiny “actress” say the actual curse word, bless them. Instead, like little Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” they told her to mouth another word so it would just look like she said it.
Why? We know why. One word: ratings. Is it really entertaining? Does it really help parents who have children who have accidently sworn know what to do or how to address the issue? Absolutely not. If anything, it makes light of something otherwise very crude and offensive and, well, not very funny at all, in my opinion.
This decision to air this episode hasn’t been met without opposition. Among many others, McKay Hatch, founder of the No Cuss Club, has spoken out against ABC.
“At least ABC knows that people all over the world don’t want to have a 2-year-old saying the F-bomb on TV,” he said. According to USA Today, Hatch has been “asking his club’s members, whom he said number 35,000 in the United States and about three dozen other countries, to complain to ABC.”
And herein lies a bit of hope: An 18-year-old boy from South Pasadena, Calif., was so offended and affected by inappropriate language at his junior high school several years ago that he decided to start a club. Its motto is, “Leave People Better Than You Found Them” by making “a commitment to use polite, respectful and kind language.” This young man is courageously standing up for what’s right, even after receiving death threats online and harsh Hollywood criticism.
“Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet responded by tweeting early Wednesday morning, “how bout redirecting energies of the No Cuss Club 2; reading 2 the elderly, picking up litter, feeding the hungry…”
And according to USA Today, co-creator Steven Levitan was quoted as saying he was “‘proud and excited’ about the obscenity plotline that ABC was persuaded to allow.”
Picking up litter, reading to the elderly and feeding the hungry are all great ways to make a difference — just like the actions of the No Cuss Club. And I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you could be “proud” or “excited” about encouraging a little girl who’s barely learned her ABC’s to use an obscenity for a ratings gain.
Maybe I shouldn’t be as shocked or outraged as I am. The direction of TV has been following a steady downhill run for some time now. Each network is trying to push the envelope a little further, do something a little more daring, and now this.
I’ve been hearing people sing the praises of “Modern Family” for a while now and have been tempted to tune in to see what all the hype was about. Temptation averted.
For more information about McKay’s No Cuss Club, go to www.nocussing.com.