FCC Investigating Vince Neil F-Bomb

FCC launches probe into latest network profanity slip (AP)

When Motley Crue’s Vince Neil wished bandmate Tommy Lee a happy New Year live on NBC, he couldn’t resist inserting a profanity — and now the FCC is involved. The Federal Communications Commission has received complaints about the New Year’s Eve “Tonight” show and is beginning a preliminary probe, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. But it’s likely little will come of it.

Motley Crue was performing shortly after midnight when Neil turned to Lee and said, “Happy –ing New Year, Tommy!” It was an off-the-cuff remark and not done intentionally to test broadcast rules, said a spokeswoman for the band who asked not to be identified. Neither Motley Crue nor NBC had any other comment Tuesday. Jay Leno normally tapes the “Tonight” show, but did a live version for the East Coast on New Year’s Eve. Neil’s remark was excised when the show was seen in other time slots.

U2 lead singer Bono used the same expletive at last year’s Golden Globe Awards, which were also broadcast live by NBC. The network has said it will put this year’s broadcast on a 10-second delay. The FCC, in a March ruling issued after receiving hundreds of complaints about Bono, said the word should not be used on over-the-air radio or television programs when it’s likely children will be listening. But the Bono ruling did not apply to the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., generally considered a “safe harbor” for rougher language. The commission said in its ruling that it would take complaints about language in those hours on a case by case basis.

Networks have been more cautious about material they air after singer Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl performance last year. Jackson was near the end of a Feb. 1 halftime duet with Justin Timberlake when Timberlake snatched off part of her bustier on stage, revealing one of her breasts, which was covered with only a sun-shaped “nipple shield.” Those involved blamed the exposure on a “wardrobe malfunction.”

One would think the FCC would have better things to do. That said, NBC –which has been victimized multiple times with these events–should have had enough sense to broadcast Neil with a 10-second delay. Pat Boone he ain’t.

The “Happy –ing New Year” thing is especially amusing to me, as the announcer at the Redskins-Vikings game this past Sunday wished the crowd a “Happy Funky New Year,” as part of some lame production number. Giving the accoustics of the place and the guy’s enunciation, “Funky” wasn’t what I initially heard.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Is there still anyone simple enough to believe that the kids that this is meant to protect don’t swear like troupers at school. I mean all of them. Didn’t you? What do they think happened to make all the kids become angels?

  2. bryan says:

    I don’t think *every* kid swears. More to the point, it’s not likely there were that many kids up at that time anyway. And the lack of a 10-second delay on ANY live broadcast these days is just idiotic – with the exception of live sporting events. And even then, remember Pitt QB Palko’s recent colorful interview with the sideline reporter.

  3. Mark J says:

    Again: it is NOT the government’s job to provide a “safe” environment for children. And even if you’re a bleeding moron and think it is, who the heck are you to decide what’s objectively safe? Be a parent already and YOU decide what’s appropriate for your child.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Great, the Bush morality police are on the job…

  5. bryan says:

    Mark J,

    actually, according to the supreme court, it *is* the government’s job to do that on broadcast channels (FCC v. Pacifica). I’ll ignore for the moment your insipid broad overgeneralization that “it’s not the government’s job to provide a safe environment for children” (what are the police for?).

  6. A.W. says:

    Several comments…

    First, Motley Crue? what a shitty choice for a band. In the height of their greatness, they were barely suited to lick Eddie Vedder’s boots.

    Second, yeah NBC should know better.

    Third, i bet you good money this was done deliberately to create publicity like this. That’s the reason why they used to use all that satanic imagery in the 80’s. They weren’t really satanists, but pissing off the christians was good publicity. They have been very explicit about this. I think this is version 2.0 of that tactic.

    Fourth, I think it is time to throw out the FCC as a content-censoring body.

    i blogged more about this, here: http://www.freespeech.com/index.php?/the_best_argument_for_abolishing_the_fcc/