Television, particularly in America, is notorious for censorship. But they don’t always do it in a way that makes sense. Turn on any channel and you’ll probably be confronted by bare chests, gunfire, or some group punching the crap out of each other, only for the next seen to have the characters saying things like ‘gosh’ because they’ve been told swearing is off-limits. It’s largely down to culture of course; British TV has an abundance of swearing and violence, yet prohibits pretty much any depiction of sex (you’ll find a lot of scenes where two people are kissing, then a jump to them lying in bed the next morning). This is epitomised by Friends. Watch it on Comedy Central early in the day and the swearing is cut, but watch it on Channel 4 and it’s the explicit references to sex to go missing.
Anyway, enough of that nun’s sagging testicles, let’s get to the plot. Every now and again a show comes along so full of censorship you can practically smell the nervous sweat of the suits in charge, having put so much money into the product they’re terrified of offending anyone. The ’90s Spider-Man cartoon is a show such as this. We’ve selected the six best examples of Orwellian impressionism in the show, all of which making about as much sense as a lard salad.
6. Pew Pew
Guns, I think we can all agree, are bad. Their only purpose is to kill and, as such, it makes perfect sense a company like Marvel would want to keep them out of their shows, not wishing to glorify gun violence. Except that’s not really what they did. In the Spider-Man cartoon from our youth there were a plethora of fire arms, but censorship had them shooting stun lasers rather than actual bullets, making it clear to viewers nobody was in real danger and thus keeping the show family friendly.
This is perhaps the most misguided censorship of any programme in all history. Showing guns as non-lethal trivialise firearm use, promoting the notion the weapons are fine and you should totally fire one at your sister kids that’d be funny wouldn’t it? But in truth the compromise doesn’t really work anyway, as we grew up thinking Spider-Man’s enemies shared the weapons of Storm Troopers and any hit from one of those lasers would kill a normal person instantly. So regardless of how you look at it, this misguided censorship was pretty counter-productive.
5. Think of the Children!
In an effort not to give viewers nightmares in which a man with a fish-bowl on his head chases the viewer through a house of mirrors, the show producers stipulated that no children must be seen in danger at any point in the show. However, as the programme revolved 90% around bank robberies, explosions, and dastardly schemes to steal Aunt May’s prized potato collection, the result was barely any children made it into the show at all.
Not representing the key audience seems a rather silly thing for a company to do. It’s alright though, they’ve probably learnt from their mistake and constantly show kids in their new stuff. Like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where that kid…. err…. oh, never mind.
4. Bird Trouble
Oh come on, now it’s just getting silly! Producers of the show reportedly sent out a memo telling the writers to be careful when Spider-Man is jumping around that he “doesn’t land on any pigeons”. Firstly, why would any writer include a scene where the hero accidentally stomps on a pigeon’s head mid-fight? And secondly, who cares? Yes animal cruelty is wrong and we wouldn’t have wanted Spider-Man to go on a lion hunting tour in Africa, but this makes PETA look like Luka Magnotta.
Okay, come on, deep-breaths. The next three on our list have to be less ridiculous than these, right?