2013-12-19 – “[P]rofanity and obscenity entitle people who don’t want unpleasant information to close their ears and eyes to you.”
So the language police are busy debating how the nature of obscenity has been changing. It used to be centered on sex talk and gross bodily function but now is centered (supposedly) on race and gender. I’m not sure that I totally agree with that. While it’s true that words like “fuck” have become like punctuation in the media (and is often written with punctuation marks #@%!), I’m not sure that race and gender words have become the replacement taboo. Another thing is operating there, something more political.
But I’m not here to talk about which terms are considered profane. You know what they are. I’m here to talk about the power of profanity.
Profane words make people take notice. This is something out of the ordinary. When Lenny Bruce used them in his act, people laughed because he was breaking the taboo. Comics now use them all the time.
And people still laugh? What’s up with that?
The quotation that led this post is from Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut. It reflects my attitude about swearing. Yes, I swear. But not a lot. And never when I want people to listen to me.
And rarely to get a laugh.
Can a joke have the word “fuck” in it and still be funny? Sure, but the joke has to be funny! You should be able to substitute another word in the joke and still laugh! It’s not the word. It’s the situation.