Censored ‘SNL’ Sketch Jumps Bleepless Onto the Internet

By JACQUES STEINBERG

The nearly three-minute digital film, shown on “Saturday Night Live” last Saturday, was a parody of two boy-band singers (including one played by the real Justin Timberlake) crooning a holiday song about making a gift to their girlfriends of their male anatomy, which they appeared to have wrapped in boxes (strategically placed) and then topped with bows.

Given the subject matter, it was little surprise that NBC bleeped a recurring word in the chorus 16 times. But soon after the broadcast concluded at 1 a.m. Sunday, viewers who’d seen the bit on TV (and others who had just heard about it) could find the uncensored version online. That’s because the network itself had placed it on its own Web site (nbc.com) and YouTube.com, under the headings “Special Treat in a Box” or “Special Christmas Box.”

In less than a week the official uncensored version of the video has been viewed by over two million people on YouTube alone. In the process “Saturday Night Live” appears to have become the first scripted comedy on a broadcast network to use the Web to make an end-run around the prying eyes of both its internal censors and those of the Federal Communications Commission, whose jurisdiction over “Saturday Night Live” effectively ends at the Web frontier. (more…)

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