Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Tony Awards: Totally F______

I was out of town Sunday night when the Tony Awards aired on CBS, and finally watched them last night after a self-imposed day-long media blackout. (I like to be surprised!) Although this is a TV blog, I would first like to give a giant shoutout to Spring Awakening for winning, um, practically everything. It's awesome--go see it. And if that's not enough for you, just ask Zach Braff, who introduced their performance at the Awards.

However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't find something to complain about (besides Raul Esparza losing, although that's certainly an atrocity worthy of a post on any theatre blog). Spring Awakening, a show about teens expressing themselves in an oppressive society, was censored like mad in its Tony performance, with multiple lyric changes toning down the sexuality of a song about how tough it is to be a teenage boy with sex on the brain. The show's most salient message is literally that late-19th century German society hid sex from children, forcing them to miseducate themselves, which then led to tragedy. Hmm.

And what were the horribly offensive lyrics? Here's one: "With my teacher and her breasts/.../ And those breasts, I mean god/ Please just let those apples fall" was changed to "With my teacher and her chest" and "Then she leans against my shoulder/ And I want it all." Apparently "breasts," and "let those apples fall" are horribly damaging phrases for our youth. (Interestingly, the chorus, "It's the bitch of living," was left untouched, probably because "bitch" was used as an exclamation instead of a descriptive.) Lyrics subtly indicating masturbation (oh, the horrors!) were also altered ("She said give me that hand please/.../ Oh we'll work that silver magic/ Then we'll aim it at the wall" to "give me those bad dreams" and some lame crap about building silver castles). You can see the original song here. UPDATE: Here's a video of the Tony performance.

They also censored a song called "Totally Fucked," for obvious reasons (although I'm not sure why they had cut out "ass" in the lyric "kiss your sorry ass goodbye"). The cast ended up not singing the naughty words, instead covering their mouths--a mild protest I appreciated even though singing "totally ____" sounded absurd at times, and was surely confusing to those who weren't familiar with the music.

I get that CBS is understandably gunshy about the FCC, but now that the courts seem to be seeing their point of view, isn't it time to push the envelope a little? Surely they see the irony of censoring mild (verbal!) sexual expression in a show about the dangers of oppressing sexuality. ...Right?


vance said...

I downplayed my anger about Raul losing already in my blog cause I was trying to be nice, but WTF? David is nice and all and I like the guy but seriously, Raul's Bobby will go down as one of the best performances EVER.

I thought it was so cute that Spring Awakening covered their mouths for "f#$ked" and a nice statement on self censorship but yeah... APPLES FALL??? That's offensive? If you didn't know the show already, do the words really convey how funny the show actually is (which is a feat considering its quite depressing)? I think your FCC is out of control though I'm glad that court came down on them recently.

Liz said...

Yeah, that best actor thing was 100% ABSURD...I can't even begin to comprehend what happened there.

The mouth-covering was funny, but the more subtle lyrics changes bothered me because yeah, it gives the wrong idea about the show, and also goes against exactly what the show is about! Crazy.

vance said...

ACK. Company is closing. I mean. I knew it was going to happen, Still. Very sad. Especially 2 days after winning the Tony for Best Revival. Seriously? What's wrong with people? Why aren't they seeing one of the best productions EVER?

Liz said...

Wow...that IS unfortunate timing. What a shame! I can't say I loved it quite as much as John Doyle's Sweeney Todd (they really killed "You can drive a person crazy" for me with the instruments), but I thought it was fabulous theatre, for sure--especially the two (well, one and a half) leads.