Almost Nobody Complains About ‘Saturday Night Live’ Profanity
I'm not sure this is a concern that rises to the level of an article at The Atlantic.
An Atlantic piece titled “Swear Words, Blasphemy, and Justin Timberlake” begins thusly:
People have been complaining that Saturday Night Live isn’t funny anymore for almost as long as the show has been on air. It’s practically a running gag at this point, with the complaints usually going something like this: The sketches are predictable rehashes. A format that was once the edgiest thing on television now seems dated. Everything was better back when Farley (or Fey or Hartman or Radner or Curtain or Belushi) was on the show.
But then there are the viewers who don’t find Saturday Night Live funny because they find it offensive. Really offensive. So offensive that they complain to the Federal Communications Commission. FCC complaints are something of a throwback in the Internet age: People get offended by comedy all the time, but American outrage has largely migrated away from traditional gatekeepers (think: letters to the editor) and instead proliferated in the places where people publish their ideas immediately (think: Twitter).
Who are these people?
There are still people who complain to the FCC, though. (The agency uses complaints as a way to “spot trends and practices that warrant investigation and enforcement action,” it says.) I reviewed three years of FCC complaints about Saturday Night Live (around 100 in total) in an attempt to find out what offends American viewers most, and how viewers’ sensibilities have changed. The Federal Communications Commission purges complaints after three years, so it’s not possible to see records detailing complaints from earlier eras. And though complaints since 2012 make up a limited sampling—consider how many people are offended by something but don’t take the time to contact the FCC, for instance—perusing records offers a revealing glimpse at a vocal population of American television viewers.
So . . . “around 100” people have complained to the FCC about offensive content on SNL over the last three years. That’s “around” 33 people a year, on average. There are around 319 million people in the United States. My calculator doesn’t have enough zeroes on it to indicate how much less than one percent that is. But one percent is 3.19 million people.
I’m not sure this is a concern that rises to the level of an article at The Atlantic.