One thing I hear a lot of people comment on is my choice to use colorful metaphor so frequently. The word fuck is not foreign to me, actually it’s probably one of the most comfortable to slide from my tongue because it’s so versatile — whole comedy routines have been written how multi-talented the word fuck is. And the number one thing that will stop me in my tracks and make me lose respect for someone? When they call me out on my use of these colorful metaphor because of my gender. While I’ll disagree if they just try to tell me that I should watch my language, as long as there’s no indication it has anything to do with my gender I will make a good faith effort to respect their beliefs up to the point I respect the person who believes them. But the moment anything indicates they find it okay to curse and swear, as long as there aren’t women present, my respect for that person just dries right up; sometimes I even find myself cursing in their presence more simply because I am so offended by their sexism.
I’ve been lectured that it makes me seem base and crass, and that I should respect myself more than that. I’ve been told to my face that the person speaking to me knows that I’m intelligent, but because I choose to use more base language that I come across as stupid. My experience has been, anyone who can’t hear what I’m actually saying because I pepper my sentences with fuck when I’m angry is actually saying more about themselves than they are me. Words have the power we give them, the meaning we wrap them in with the sentences we construct for them… so why does a simple little four letter word like fuck have the power to just overshadow everything that surrounds it? Simply because we as a society choose to give it that power.
A genius of a man, George Carlin, had a lot to say on these sorts of words. He had a delightful routine that discussed these sorts of words in detail known to most as the seven dirty words. If you’ve never had the pleasure, or if it’s been a while, I certainly recommend you take the time. This clip of it is a little over fifteen minutes, but well worth it.
Comedians are the ones allowed to poke at society where society says no one is allowed to poke. They soften the blow by wrapping it in a metaphor or provoking a laugh, but the best ones have a lot to say under their jokes. That’s part of the reason why Jon Stewart was so successful with his run on the Daily Show, because under all that humor there is a man who is very knowledgeable about politics, who has a sharp mind with opinions to share, and he did it in a way that a large chunk of society enjoyed watching it. He said things that a lot of us agreed with, and some of what he did created waves and got attention on things that might have otherwise been ignored.
Anyhow, back to my original thread: how did we reach a point where one little word with four letters has become so powerful that it can stop everything and everyone around it like it’s a freeze ray or a magic spell? It’s the language equivalent of a flash bang for so many, where they hear it and suddenly their ability to take in anything else just is gone. I recognize that language is a collaborative construct to help clarify meaning in communication, that words are given meaning by what everyone agrees upon… I just don’t understand how one word so small has been given so much power.
Really, why do we even given a fuck?