THIS POST CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE.
I broke the barrier in the 440th post of this blog.
It was April 5, 2015, and the post was about non-humans overrunning various parts of Japan. I was describing the fishing port of Namerikawa which is home to millions of Firefly Squid, and I wrote that they “… light up the whole bay at night so that natives and tourists alike can gape at the spectacle and say, ‘That is one shitload of squid.’”
It was the first time I ever used the word “shit.”
I should hasten to add that it was not the first time I used the word “shit” in my life. You’d have to go way before 2015 to find that instance, perhaps to the time I saw my personal second grade bully, Marc Kravitz, blocking my way home. No, it was just the first time I used “shit” in this blog. It took four years and a helluva lot of squid to get me to type it into a post.
I’m not sure why. Maybe I remembered the old George Carlin routine from the early 70’s about the seven words you couldn’t say on television. I apologize in advance for some of these, but the seven words were: Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. (If you want to see the routine, click here. It was quite groundbreaking at the time.)
Two and a half years before the squid-based profanity, I had even done a post exclusively about my dog’s pooping habits, and managed to get through the entire thing without saying “shit.”
But there was something about all those glowing squid that made me do it.
And it’s not like that opened the floodgates. I didn’t use “shit” again for almost four months, until I was writing about some farmers who had died after falling into a manure pit, and couldn’t help but use the inevitable line, “…he was quickly overcome by fumes consisting of hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. He probably also realized that he was in some deep shit.”
Recently, though, I have to admit that a lot more crap has seeped into these posts. I would like to blame the new and former White House Communications Director, whose profanity-packed pronouncements probably caused every 1950’s-era mother in America to unholster her bar of soap. Unfortunately, my defecationary declarations predate Mr. Scaramucci’s appointment and swift demise.
So instead, I’ll blame basic cable TV.
While pay cable has always been potty-mouthed, basic cable channels like AMC and USA have slowly been venturing into previously uncharted cussing. I believe we can think of “ass” as being the Jackie Robinson of TV foulmouthedness. Once that was assimilated into polite society (not to mention sitcoms), we moved quickly into George Carlin’s taboos. I think “piss” made it onto basic cable, ironically, around the time Carlin died, in 2008. Now they even say that on broadcast networks. By the time I began this blog in 2011, “piss” was fair game. I was “pissed off” about something or other way back in Entry 26.
“Tits” came next. They started saying it on late-night TV and Comedy Central. I frankly have a problem with “tits.” Not the items themselves, but the word. I’m not sure why. Maybe I prefer “boob” because I am one.
And now there’s shit all over the place. So I guess I figured if they can say it on The Walking Dead, I can say it in this blog.
I can tell you which of Carlin’s words will be the next to go: “Fuck.” On the USA Network show Suits, which recently aired a prolonged scene in which the word “dickhead” was prominently displayed, characters say “Fck.” The word isn’t bleeped exactly; there’s just a kind of hiccup in there, as if viewers might think they’re really saying “fick.” “What the fick is going on?” Yeah, that’s what he’s saying. The closed captioning, which I always have on because I have trouble discerning dialog (particularly on BBC shows because they refuse to speak English), says “FU–.” That’s kind of interesting. Not “F–K,” but “FU–.” I’m pretty sure I can hear a “k” in there somewhere, though.
Anyway, in the near future when the fucking hiccups are cured, there will only be three of George Carlin’s words left. As he himself once said, perhaps motherfucker shouldn’t have been there in the first place, because it was a form of “fuck.” “Cocksucker” will eventually get through the censors because it’s just two ambiguous words stuck together; neither is necessarily dirty on its own. It’s just a chicken with a lollipop. (Or, if you believe Mr. Scaramucci, Steve Bannon alone with some extra time on his hands.)
And that leaves the “c” word, which will be the last to go (if it ever does), not because it is dirty but because it is offensive.
In 1952, Lucille Ball had to be a verbal contortionist in order to avoid uttering the word “pregnant” on I Love Lucy.* We’ve come a long way, baby.
In conclusion, I promise I’ll be back to just “shit” and “piss” after this post, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as my post a couple of years ago about a 14th century criminal named Roger Fuckebythenavel.
*The name of the episode in which she announced that she was “with child” was “Lucy Is Enceinte.” Evidently, it was okay with the CBS censors to say “pregnant,” as long as it was in a foreign language. This may be where the phrase “pardon my French” comes from.
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