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It’s Hard Out Here for a Parent
When Vulgarity Takes Over...

[Carol Platt Liebau] 2/27/06

A report on veteran entertainment reporter Army Archerd’s web site tells a sad and revealing tale about the state of American culture. According to Archerd, portions of an Oscar-nominated song, as it’s currently written, wouldn’t pass network clearances to appear on the awards broadcast scheduled for next weekend.

The name of the song is “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” – and yes, that’s the title that will be announced during the telecast and performed live. Original lyrics to the song include “f--k,” “s--t,” and a variation of “the n-word,” which will be replaced with the cooperation of the songwriting team. Those in charge of the Oscar broadcast, however, have permitted the terms “bitch” and “ho” (likewise in the lyrics) to remain. The rationale, according to the Oscars producer Gil Cates, is that the latter two epithets are heard regularly on network shows.

Carol Platt Liebau - Senior

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at [go to Liebau index]

What a sad moment for America – and a profoundly distasteful one, too. In itself, the fact that “bitches” and “ho’s” apparently surface on network programs with some regularity is a disgrace. It’s hard to believe that the creative well has run so dry that writers are forced to resort to misogynist vulgarities in order to elicit either a laugh or a frisson of shock. But even so, at least families can avoid programs that employ such lowbrow devices. Should they be turning off the Oscars, too, before the inevitable questions begin: What’s a “pimp,” Daddy? Mommy, what does “ho” mean?

Surely America’s young people deserve better. Certainly, the Oscars aren’t a child-friendly show on par with “Blue’s Clues.” But the broadcast is supposed to be appropriate viewing for the entire family. Are “pimps,” “bitches” and “ho’s” suddenly considered to be generic conversational terms in American living rooms?

It’s difficult to argue that any social benefit is being realized from popularizing the use of such degrading language (and the concepts they describe). Some might argue that bringing them to the Oscar stage simply reflects “real life.” But what’s heard at the Oscar stage also drives real life – and if adults, who already know better, want to indulge a taste for demeaning language, there are plenty of times for them to do so in a less public and influential context.

Sadly, the cultural debasement reflected by “It’s Hard to be a Pimp” is the rule, rather than the exception, when it comes to popular music. A study conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center and published in the Journal of Pediatrics noted that 42% of the songs on ten top-selling CDs in 1999 contained sexual content, with 41% of those being “very explicit” or “pretty explicit.”

To their credit, the team that created “It’s Hard to be a Pimp” has assured Army Archerd that the Oscars will be “a clean show,” thanks to the rewrite of their song. If that’s true, then only one question remains: What, then, would have been the harm in writing a “clean” song in the first place? -one-


Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and tOR / CRO editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at

copyright 2006 Carol Platt Liebau


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