Ooh, you used the F-word in your Facebook post. Yes, you got my attention, but by the look and the sound of things, you won’t be getting much more of my attention. People are wiring the F-word into the written word so much that I half expect to see it on the menu at McDonald’s.
Disclaimer time: I use that word and similar words in conversation, probably more than I should. Usually the other parties in those conversations are guys. I usually don’t use it in front of my wife, because she doesn’t like hearing it. Married 30 years, I understand what it means to not upset the woman who cares for you when no one else will.
I mentioned in a blog post last summer that there are a few Facebook pages I don’t “Like” because their names are offensive. They include the F-word. One is the popular “I F-ing love science” which is either about to become a TV show, or was recently co-opted by someone making a TV show.I think that’s stupid. I guess the word I’m looking for is ‘gratuitous’, but I’ll go with stupid because that’s what my father tried to tell me when I was growing up. My father swore like the proverbial sailor, but he didn’t necessarily want me to follow in his footsteps. He said that there were always better words to use to make your point and if you wanted to sound like you had an education, you should use those words.
However, once when I was working on his car and the wrench slipped off a nut, he stood there looking at my bloody hand and said “you know, at a time like this you can say f—.”
Last year I was watching a football game with my brother and my mother and one of us said that word. My mother, who has never uttered a swear word as far as I can remember (not even hell or damn), yelled at us. Yeah, it doesn’t matter how old you are, your mother can still yell at you. Anyway, in yelling at us she said “Johnny (my dad) never even used that word!” My brother and I just looked at each other and started laughing. “Of course he did, he just never used it in front of you!” He also knew the thing about not upsetting the woman who would care for you.
Actually, what he knew was respect
So, how about showing a little respect for the parents who have to explain your Facebook post, your show, your website or your menu to their kids – the kids that they hope will sound educated when they grow up.
I don’t expect to find too many of those kids reading this blog. Heck, I’m still surprised when I discover educated adults reading this blog, but that’s beside the point. Did you notice, I used the word ‘heck’ in the previous sentence? Would it have been better if I had used any one of the 5 or 6 words I can think I could have used? If I was making that statement in a bar, I probably would have used one of those words, but I as I sit here and think about it, I can’t honestly figure out what that would add. Shock value I guess, but I’m not trying to shock you.
I’m usually trying to entertain. My friend Brad Lewis made a comment shortly after Sid Caesar died that he (Sid) had essentially defined television comedy, without being crude or vulgar. Brad knows a thing or two about comedians; he co-authored the Biography of Milton Berle. I think if Sid and Milton did it, maybe I should try.
Sometimes, in addition to trying to entertain, I write a post to try to educate or inform or at least share my opinion with you. I’m not sure that profanity has any place in the world of education or information sharing. A blogger friend of mine recently shared a book review that she said was an example of a “mean” book review. It was laced with the F-word and other gratuitous profanity. I read it, but I won’t even link to it here because I don’t want to lend it credence. If you want to see mean reviews, google the ‘mean reviews of Roger Ebert’ (here I’ll save you the trouble). In his review of “Freddy Got Fingered” he said:
“This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”
No profanity, no F-words. My mother could read his reviews verbatim. Roger Ebert perfected the tools of his trade. He used language, wit, sarcasm, history and a keen awareness of the world around him to send his message honestly, to entertain and inform us. We should use those tools. We should inspire our children to use those tools. We should be able to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.