Progressive viral content website Upworthy (co-founded by a former MoveOn executive and a former managing editor for The Onion) highlights a quote from Rolling Stones' latest cover story, a profile of Miley Cyrus (have you heard of her?). The former child actress points out:
"America is just so weird in what they think is right and wrong… Like, I was watching Breaking Bad the other day, and they were cooking meth. I could literally cook meth because of that show. It's a how-to. And then they bleeped out the word 'fuck.' And I'm like, really? They killed a guy, and disintegrated his body in acid, but you're not allowed to say 'fuck'? It's like when they bleeped 'molly' at the VMAs. Look what I'm doing up here right now, and you're going to bleep out 'molly'? Whatever."
Cyrus' performance may not have been censored by MTV, but the FCC received more than 150 pages worth of complaints about it from Americans, even though, as Peter Suderman noted, the FCC doesn't have jurisdiction over cable channels. As for Breaking Bad, the Netflix version leaves curse words uncensored, though it apparently cut out some of the sexual-ish scenes in the pilot.
AMC may have made the decision that curse words will turn off viewers but the cooking of meth on screen won't, while Netflix may have made the decision that its users won't mind an f-bomb but might cancel their subscription over bare breasts. Or both may prefer to play it safe and not attract unwanted attention from busybodies, all perhaps part of the blandification of pop culture. Miley Cyrus, on the other hand, has shown herself to be adept at playing up controversy in service of self-promotion, as her appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone and her post-VMA attention in general attests. And if she can drop an f-bomb at the VMA maybe she won't twerk again?