I’ve always been mildly fascinated by the question of how radio and TV outlets choose which words to censor. Not obscenities, mind you — I’m talking about the 100% clean verbs and nouns that get muted because someone thinks, rightly or wrongly, that they imply something inappropriate. For example: The video for N.E.R.D.’s new single, “Everyone Nose,” has entered heavy rotation on MTV recently… with one key phrase missing. On record, the chorus goes, “Hundred dollar bills, look at you, achoo!” Innocent enough, right? But I’ve noticed that the network mysteriously bleeps the “at you, achoo!” part every time.
This is presumably happening because everyone, er, nose that that hook is totally about doing cocaine, man. So clever, those N.E.R.D. guys. But how does bleeping an onomatopoetic representation of sneezing really do anything to obscure that theme? (“If only we hadn’t let our impressionable kids hear the word achoo at such a tender age, they never would have gotten caught up with that fast crowd!”) I mean, this video and song are peppered with thinly veiled drug references — all unsubtle enough that everybody above the age of 12 will catch them, but none of them are actually spelled out. That doesn’t bother me, but isn’t anyone offended by “achoo!” going to absolutely flip out when they see those paparazzi-style shots of a dazed-looking Lindsay Lohan, or for that matter when they hear the droning vocal loop dedicating the song to “all the girls standing in the line for the bathroom” over and over and over again?
The full video, “achoos” and all — and thus kinda-sorta NSFW, I guess — is below, so judge for yourself if it’s offensive. And riddle me this: Can we ever truly be sure that Pharrell, Chad, and Shay didn’t write this song about a wicked allergy attack? (Pollen’s killer this time of year, lemme tell ya.)