Watch Stephen Colbert Explain CBS' Odd Censorship Policy - Rolling Stone
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Watch Stephen Colbert Explain CBS’ Odd Censorship Policy

Host explains the limits of “racy art” he can show on network on ‘Late Show’

Stephen Colbert explored his own network’s censorship rules on The Late Show Thursday with regard to nudity in art. After Bloomberg TV had to blur Modigliani’s ‘Reclining Nude’ while discussing its $170 million Christie’s auction sale, the late-night host experimented with CBS’ own limits on art and porn.

“Yes, too racy,” Colbert joked after showing the Bloomberg TV segment on the famed work. “They blurred the portrait, which was a huge relief because for just one moment, I thought someone had accidentally smudged it.”

He then discussed all the ways the news has recently “de-titilated art” before turning the gaze on his own network by explaining the limits of what pieces of art he can and cannot show on The Late Show. While he can’t show the Modigliani, he can show Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ and “raw, uncensored Georgia O’Keefe.” For Michelangelo’s statue of David, Colbert can only show “a distant picture of the David for a total of two seconds.”

The host took it a step further and drew two circles with dots and called them female breasts, which then got blurred on-screen until he turned it into a face. “Until all this controversy over what’s too racy to be called art is settled, I should probably play it safe and stick with what’s allowed on network TV: police procedurals where they stack up dead hookers like cordwood.”


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