‘M*A*S*H’: Alan Alda Spoke Out on Cursing, Doesn’t Think ‘Gutter Language Outta Have the Power’ it Does

by Keeli Parkey

“M*A*S*H” star Alan Alda once discussed censorship and cursing on the iconic show – and on television in general. He did so during a November 2000 interview with the Television Academy Foundation.

According to the famous actor, censors had a pretty significant level of influence on what language could be used on the show. For instance, he said, the show was not allowed to refer to one of its characters as a “virgin.”

“They would tell you every week you’re saying too many d**ns,” Alda said. “You should only say three d**ns, one h***. And, of course, you couldn’t say son of a b****. You couldn’t say … b*****d – words that are now spoken … They say, they say stuff you didn’t even say in private then, you know?”

The man famous for playing the character Hawkeye on “M*A*S*H,” also shared his personal feelings about cursing, which he referred to as “gutter language.”

“By the way, language to me – I think language ought to all be demystified,” Alan Alda said. “I don’t think that, um, gutter language outta have the power over us that it does.”

The actor later said that he is someone who curses. So, his feelings about “gutter language” aren’t influenced by that. He said what he would like to see is human beings be more eloquent with their speech, particularly when they are trying to communicate their feelings.

“It is what it is,” Alda said of cursing. “It’s a thoughtless, crude way of expressing either anger or an attitude towards something. And, you outta so demystify it that it doesn’t have that power anymore and people are going to have to use real words to express themselves.”

‘I Love to Curse’ ‘M*A*S*H’ Star Alan Alda Once Said

Regarding censorship on “M*A*S*H,” Alan Alda said he noticed something about censorship on the show from the time it first started airing in comparison to when it became a hit.

“But, I love to curse. I curse a blue streak sometimes. I’m not against language,” he said. “I’m just interested to see the difference between what we were allowed to say under censorship and what they say nowadays. It’s very interesting. And in addition to that, it was very interesting to see what we were allowed to say on (“M*A*S*H”) before we were successful and how much more we could say afterwards.”

You can watch Alan Alda talk about cursing and censorship on “M*A*S*H” with the Television Academy Foundation below.