Language Censorship in English Movies and Television

Topics: Television program, Profanity, Film Pages: 12 (3642 words) Published: July 31, 2009
Language censorship in English movies and television

Lam Pui Ling
UCSI University
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lim Woei Hoa
UCSI University
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ooi Chee Ling
UCSI University
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


This paper examines the issue of censorship in English movies and television programs mostly in the Malaysian context, specifically from the language aspect. A simple introduction is given in defining language and censorship. The procedure used to conduct the research and in completing this research paper is also included. There will be an outlook on the collection of censored words or phrases, the motive for such censorship as well as the viewers’ opinion in regards of this particular language censorship. Subsequently, the result, which is the impact or influence of language censorship will be discussed after a qualitative data analysis. Last but not least, the findings will be concluded briefly followed by the appendixes.

I. Introduction

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2009), the definition of language is “a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings”. Generally, language is very important in our everyday lives, be it any language – English, Chinese, Malay, Hindi or more. It plays the important role of being the medium of our communication. As a matter of fact, English language is the well-known lingua franca that connects people from all around the globe. As we know it, there are many movies and television (TV) shows that are featured in English language. Therefore, it is crucial for the filmmakers and TV programmers to know how to use the right words because it can affect the viewers, rather mentally. According to Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1971), a child will behave according to what he learns from the environment, especially television shows. Jessica Moore (2007) wrote an article where she mentioned how many people actually blame television programs or movies for indecent behavior that occurs among students. This simply shows the huge influence that a television show can bring.

Thus, this is where the issue of censorship comes in. Censorship is defined as “the act or process of censoring, whereby an authorized examiner of literature, plays or other material, who may prohibit what he considers morally or otherwise objectionable”, based on The Grolier International Dictionary (1987). Censorship is essential as to control what is aired and what should not be reached out to the viewers out there. This research is worthy of study as it shows the impact and influence of (offensive) language in movies and television to viewers, children and adults alike. It will showcase how easily the viewers can be influenced by what they see or hear. The objective is to study the issue of language censorship in English movies and televisions – mostly in the Malaysian context – along with the impact of language censorship. Further in this paper, we will take a look at some examples of phrases or words that are censored and the reason for censoring them. Besides, there will be an insight of public’s (viewers) towards vulgarity or offensive language being shown on screen. There will be a mixed of opinions as some agreed to the standard of censorship in Malaysia but there are also those who object the overrated censorship standard. Also, we will explore the impact if viewers are exposed to uncensored vulgarity and obscenity on screen.

II. Methodology

Before starting the research paper, we brainstormed to decide on a suitable topic for the paper. Various topics were suggested and evaluated by trying to find sources of information on the internet. Finally, an interesting topic has been decided on, which is “Language Censorship in English Movies and Television”. After the firm decision on the topic, a few research questions were developed in order for us to know what the...

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