This Tonys Moment Shows How Sexuality On TV Has Changed In 10 Years

When the cast of Spring Awakening performed a medley of songs at the 2007 Tony Awards, like many other fans, I knew some lyrics would have to be edited for a network telecast. The cast album had a parental advisory sticker, after all — the young company members would not be permitted to scream "Totally Fucked" on live television. But it wasn't just the actual curse words that were edited of the mid-2000s performance. Though the repetition of "bitch" in "The Bitch of Living" was deemed acceptable, a pretty poetic reference to masturbation was not.

The lyric, "She said give me that hand please / An itch you can't control / Let me teach you how to handle / All the sadness in your soul / Oh we'll work that silver magic / Then we'll aim it at the wall," became, "Give me those bad dreams / And that itch you can't control / Let me teach you how to handle / All the sadness in your soul / Oh we'll build some silver castles / Shut the door and climb the walls."

Perhaps the producers of Spring Awakening wanted to tone down references to teenage sexuality so as not to deter parents from buying tickets for their families, or someone at the network worried that children would be corrupted by a sudden urge to Google "silver magic." Whatever the case, the performance was censored.
Fast-forward nine years, and Spring Awakening came back to Broadway with a fantastic cast, including a group of talented deaf performers signing while their cast mates sang. The 2016 cast got to sing and sign the original lyrics on the awards telecast, revealing to the entire Tony-watching population that sometimes teenagers masturbate. It may seem like a small thing, but this lack of editing speaks to a broader shift in attitudes governing network TV, one that has allowed for more open and honest treatment of sex and sexuality.

We've certainly come a long way from The Rolling Stones having to edit their lyrics for The Ed Sullivan Show, which would not air a sentiment so seedy as "let's spend the night together."

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