A headline in Monday’s paper read, “Saturday Night Live’ starts season with F-bomb!” I cannot walk away without comment. “F-bomb”… is that the best way we can do in framing the use of the “f-word”? I am not afraid to say or write out the “f-word” but do not do so here based on the sensitivity of others. I do understand why it is being discussed. We have censors at the networks that carefully monitor such things and a slip occurred. Indeed, it is a novel occasion that you hear it on TV. I don’t know how much time I would spend talking about the slip-up in the media, but that is not my beef – it’s the term, “f-bomb”. That term sounds so high-school-ish to me…can’t we do better?
I guess I have heard the word a time or two in my life and its power has been diminished. To call it the “f-bomb” gives it more power and attention than I think it warrants. I do understand the power of profanity though and appreciate the notion that sensitive viewers should be shielded from it. I could go into great depth at this point about how much worse I believe everyday product marketing has become than simple profane words, but then I would be here for hours and I would need to borrow a soap box.
My daughter Sarah told me of a recent profane slip she heard on the news the other day, the “s-word”. It reminded me of a time many years ago when she came running into the house to tell me and my mom that one of her playmates had said the “s-word” (and she presented it as such – “the s-word”). Of course when someone says such a thing you start running mentally through your own personal knowledge base of profanity to gauge what level of horror you should express. I could only come up with one word immediately so I attempted to confirm it with her. Here is how it went:
“Oh, you mean the sh-word?” (I said in a quiet and appropriately horrified tone.)
“Yes!” (She said with eyes as big as saucers as if she had just witnessed a wrong against mankind.)
“I can’t believe it! Did his mother hear him?” (Clearly a good mommy would have already handled this on the scene.)
“Yes, she heard him; but she didn’t do anything except say don’t say that…it’s not nice.” (Clearly she thought a good mommy would have handled it differently and by now I was a bit perplexed as I knew this mommy and this didn’t seem quite right.)
“Whisper in my ear the bad word he said.” (This took some additional assuring that it was okay to repeat it in this one instance.)
“Shut-up.” (The delivery was almost in slow motion she was so hesitant to repeat it.)
“What?” (I pulled back and looked at her as if I had misheard her which prompted her to repeat it now in full voice for clarity).
“Shut-up. He said, ‘shut up’.” (Herein I was presented with one of those moments where credibility was at stake, “shut up” was unacceptable language in my home – we preferred “be quiet please” – I needed to express the appropriate level of disdain).
“Oh, that is not nice at all. He should not say such things. You tell him that if he keeps talking like that you will not be able to play with him.” (Credibility maintained, righteous indignation addressed – moving on).
Of course I was expecting to hear a different word. My mom and I laughed about the “s-word” for years. Hearing from her again last week that she had heard the “s-word” brought me right back to that incident when she was all of five years old. Of course at age 28 her view of profanity has changed so to hear her note that someone on the news said the “s-word” was noteworthy in-and-of-itself. I had to ask for more information and 23 years later here is how the conversation went:
“The s-word really?” (On Fargo news – who knew they could be so racy?)
“Yep.” (Yep? Don’t get me started on what has happened to our version of “yes” since we moved to North Dakota.)
“In what context? How did it come up?” (I was having a hard time visualizing any of them saying anything more than shoot or shucks.)
“The weather man said it.” (The weather man?? Huh? What? I am confused.)
“What exactly did he say?” (No whispering in my ear was required this time around.)
“He said the s-word – snow.” (Try and picture my face having realized I had been led down the garden path.)
Funny girl that daughter of mine. She had me right up to the end. Although there is some legitimate debate as to whether the uttering of that word in September is profanity in North Dakota. If someone said it to me at this point I would have to swear myself…or at least say “shut-up”.
Day eighty-six of the new forty – obla di obla da