Mellon Farmers

I watched Mississippi Burning (for the 5th or 6th time) on A&E last week. The movie has the appropriate amount of profanity for that time and place. As is the custom of network censors, they replaced offending words with “safe” ones. “Fucking” became “freaking,” and so forth. This never works and merely forces the viewer to do an on-the-fly translation and makes the profanity stand out where it would normally flow in context. In Die Hard with A Vengeance, we hear Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis frequently call the bad guys “mellon farmers.” Mellon farmer? Oh, motherfucker! Okay, you know what I’m talking about.

How do they accomplish this? It sure sounds like Gene Hackman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis saying the sanitized naughty word. At the end of shooting the movie, did they go into a studio with a list of replacement words and phrases. I know they get paid a lot of money but I have a hard time picturing Gene Hackman doing this. Do they find unknown actors to mimic the star voices? Or, do they grab safe words/phrases from other parts of the movie and insert them as needed? That sounds like a tall order. I’m hoping that one of you knows somebody that knows somebody that knows the answer to this mystery. stevemays@hotmail.com

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