Dialogue is not Language

March 14, 2012

Watching an old ‘House’ rerun recently, I took special notice of the pre-show disclaimers. They warned me that the episode contained “suggestive dialogue,” “language,” and “sexual situations.” Now I understand that these classifications are largely determined by lawyer-types, so they’re purposefully-designed to be over-broad and inscrutable…but really? Separate categories for dialogue and language?

I can only assume that “suggestive dialogue” refers to the way that Dr. House and Co. talk about things that are not explicitly written in black and white. In other words, the characters use smart, mature, often hilarious subtext. On the other hand, I believe “language” refers to the words “damn,” “bitch,” and “ass.” Because parents should know that a medical dramedy that depicts realistic scenarios might use adult-style profanities. Otherwise, said show would be entirely appropriate for children.

Or maybe the lawyer types are afraid that viewers won’t understand what the words “language” and “dialogue” mean, so they they include both to be safe. Perhaps in the future we should expect legal disclaimers to include “awkward conversation,” “repartee,” and “naughty words.”