Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

An Aversion To Laziness In The Use of the Expletive

I have to confess I am not adverse to using the 'f' bomb from time to time. Nothing like Himself of course, for whom it is as natural as breathing; I put it down to his background in the creative arts.

I am famously remembered by my parents for using it as I dressed for my first wedding. Well, there were waaaay too many flowers on that headpiece! It looked like I had an effing garden on my head! Anyway, my point is that I use it to effect, rather like an exclamation point (and yes, Headbang, I know that if I continue with that analogy I shall be digging myself ever deeper into an expletive grave.......) I will also admit that my need for exclamation and effect could be said to increase exponentially according to the amount of wine I have consumed but that is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I object to hearing it all the time on national radio!

The occurrence of the 'f' bomb in contemporary song has increased past the point of having any point at all. Once the territory of angst ridden rappers who had obviously seen 'Platoon' too many times.......(dialogue: mumble mumble motherf****** mumble Gooks mumble mumble mother f****** Gooks), this pre-Elizabethan curse has moved inexorably from; the purposefully dropped expletive or descriptor; to an occasional, casual adjective or adverb; to the title of the song and main chorus lyric! Lily Allen started it with her supersweet message to George Bush "F You"and more recently Cee-Lo Green has given us a cheerful, soul version of the verbal 'finger'!

! (spoken with rolled eyes)

Given my own predilection for the word, I am somewhat confused as to why these songs bother me so much, but bother me they do. I find myself murmuring "Huh! Charming!" in schoolmarmly tones, to the obvious amusement of the BA. I have tried to pinpoint the source of my irritation and after much soul searching I have decided it comes down to one thing. Laziness.

I mean! In my day we were clever and amusing in our use of the word! Witness the crowd at an Angels concert spontaneously bursting into an improvised echo chorus at the query 'Am I ever gonna to see your face again?' ( No way, get f*****, f*** off!). Now you see, that is iconic.

But more than that, we could be smutty, angst ridden or suggestive with nary a mention of the 'f' word.

Here are some of my favourite examples:

Bette Midler does Long John Blues (one of my party pieces).

Patti Smith spews forth the horrors of working class America in Piss Factory (alright..she did say piss...but at least it wasn't an 'f' factory, although come to think of it that might have been appropriate)

The B52s do Love Shack: the BA and I heard this in the car the other morning right after one of the previously mentioned modern offensive songs. I looked at her and said "You know, there is no doubt that this song is about a place where people get down and dirty and yet there is not one explicit word in the entire piece. That's its genius." And she agreed. Because she is a good daughter.

Looking back, one does not have to think too hard about the nuances of the expression 'rock and roll' to be quite clear as to its meaning. Even in the safe, middle class genre of musical theatre people like Cole Porter gave us 'innocent, carefree' lyrics like these:

I'd like to stop for my baby tonight,
And blow my top with my baby tonight.
I'd like to stop for my baby tonight,
And blow my top with my baby tonight,
But I'd be a flop with baby tonight,
'Cause it's too darn hot.

("It's Too Darn Hot" from 'Kiss Me Kate': 1949)

No prizes for guessing what HE was talking about!

In my day (and before) there was currency in vaguely disguising the intent of your lyric; this is obviously no longer the case. And guess what? I think it is reflective of the inability of the Baby Boomers to wield their Flaming Swords!!

Your kids don't care what they say folks. They're happy to put the 'f' bomb into the title of a song cos they're pretty damn sure you ain't gonna do a thing about it. Oh you might roll your eyes and say 'In MY day' and write blog posts and even change the radio station from time to time but at the end of the day you'll shrug and say "Ah well, there's nothing we can do. The world is changing."

What a load of lazy b******* you all are.

No wonder the Y Generation are the way they are !

(That faint pop you heard was the sound of me, gently removing my tongue from my cheek)

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Amy Jo said...

My husband and I find our rants much more entertaining now that we have to tailor our speech because of little ears. We've come up with some pretty heated, funny replacement for our swear words, and it's done us a world of good!

PS: my word verification is oddfans. I guess they know who's reading, huh? ;)

Arizaphale said...

Oddfans? hahahahahahaha

A Free Man said...

We've been trying to replace the f word with milder expletives so that Zach doesn't start wandering around saying 'f this' and 'f that'. I'm fond of bloody because it doesn't really have a frame of reference in the U.S. Apparently I've been overusing it, though, as he asked for a piece of bloody cake the other day.

Arizaphale said...

Mmmmm. Bloody cake. My favourite!

Oscar Zed said...

If you think about it, the reason why children are discouraged from using swear words is that they don't know the situational nuances that allow "adults" to use them in contradictory circumstances. And a lot of "adults" have forgotten that they have several "voices" - what they would say to family/friends/boss/strangers etc.

I was sitting in a burger bar when a young family arrived with 4 kids and feuding parents. I was amazed that they could tear such strips off each other without funking.

Oscar Zed said...

It's true what Amy Jo says about your Word Verification software being oddly prescient. As a fan of "Letters & Numbers" on SBS2,
I am working on the current suggestion "TORNSUPE"...

Maggie said...

I go back and forth between using some rather strong language and using some rather made up words in place of said strong language.

I do try, for the most part anyway, to make sure that I am not using crude language around anyone it might upset...of course that is when it seems to come flying out of my mouth with reckless abandon...

Arizaphale said...

Maggie: I am sure you are so delightful everyone forgives you! I have had my own battles in this regard and it is only with some fairly mild language at that! I do manage to keep the f bomb under control. Comes with the teaching territory.

OZ: Is this some sort of a scrabble reference?

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Yeah, that's true. The-Guy likes to play really old songs that insinuate stuff you didn't say outright back then.

Then again, for me, I've always been way more carefree about what I let my kids listen too. I leave my freaking out about stuff to movies and tv, because then I figure it's coming in more senses (sight AND hearing, instead of just hearing). Because I can only tilt my flaming sword at so many windmills at a time. Then I get tired.