Everyone in the Saturday Night Live control booth must have been paying so much attention to Paula Abdul’s damage-control sketch that they missed an edgier moment during the first musical performance Saturday night by guests System of a Down. The politically outspoken hard rockers performed their new single ”B.Y.O.B.”, whose refrain contains the phrase, ”Where the f— are you?” Though SNL doesn’t air on a five-second delay, the NBC censors managed to mute the offending word everytime it was sung. But in one instance, guitarist Daron Malakian ad libbed and screamed ”F— yeah!”, an exclamation that made it past the censors’ mute button.
NBC spokesman Mark Liepis told EW.com that the network has received no complaints regarding the incident, though NBC did issue a statement on Monday placing blame on the band and its management for the ”unscripted expletive,” which NBC said ”was edited out of later broadcasts.” The networks are skittish in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s post-Janet Jackson crackdown on televised profanity, which included the FCC’s reversal of a ruling that Bono’s use of the f-word during NBC’s 2003 Golden Globes broadcast hadn’t been indecent because he didn’t use the word in a sexual context. However, even if there had been complaints, it’s unlikely that the FCC would rule against SNL, since the program’s late hour falls outside the ”safe harbor” period during which kids are likely to be watching. After all, the FCC didn’t take action over a similar wee-hours incident on New Year’s Eve, when Vince Neil shouted ”Happy f—ing New Year!” during a Motley Crue performance on NBC’s Tonight Show. Still, don’t expect System of a Down to get invited back to SNL anytime soon.