While listening to Cee Lo’s “Fuck You” today in my car, I thought about how a song that features the f-word in its title and chorus would not have been on mainstream radio 15 years ago. Cursing, or allusions to it, are now commonplace in music, movies, and cable TV.
As someone who curses quite a bit, I say “Viva la revolucion!” and I don’t see this as our country spiraling deeper and deeper into an immoral inferno. On the flipside, I don’t think I’d be too happy to hear little kids cursing, but perhaps that is the inevitable result of a society that’s just stopped caring about “bad” words.
When I was a teacher, I never disciplined kids for cursing. Of course, they were cursing in Spanish anyway, but the principle is the same and it didn’t bother me. As long as someone wasn’t cursing at me, who gives a shit?
Does this mean we are headed towards a cuss-free society? What a paradoxical solution to eliminating foul language.
While swear words may have lost some sting, it still hurts a lot more when someone says “You’re such a fucking bitch” instead of “You’re such a bitch.” And it still hurts more when someone says “You’re such a bitch” instead of “You’re not very nice.” And in that regard, their power is still real. But as long as a curse word isn’t used in a verbal attack, go ahead and drop 100 tons of f-bomb on that shat.
There will always be derogatory words for groups of people. I don’t think there’s any getting around that. And it’s always possible that the fuck, shit, bitch, and asshole of today will simply be replaced by a new generation of blasphemies.
There is one curse word that I absolutely do not tolerate, and that is cunt.* But seeing as I can’t really come up with a good argument for why asshole is inherently less harmful, I suppose I might have to warm up to cunt if it starts becoming commonplace. (That doesn’t mean I would say it myself, only that it might serve as an acceptable alternative to bitch).
PS: This post was a lot of fun to write.
*I know that in the UK, “cunt” is no big deal, but it certainly is here. Just like “bollocks” and “bloody” are merely comical Britishisms in American eyes.