GEE WHIZ

By Bob Batch

They are only words, profanities, but they used to mean something and have an impact. It’s hard to imagine though, any ‘cuss’ word you could use anymore that would actually shock or embarrass anyone. Even ‘bad’ words that are still bleeped out on some TV channels are so obvious by the sound of their first letter they might as well not be bleeped at all.

Bob Batch

The major reason that attitudes changed over the years from a time when only sailors and degenerates swore heavily in public to today when even prim librarians curse a blue streak, is that comedians battled valiantly to break down the social prohibitions against the use of words that could amplify the humor in almost any situation. I won’t get into the concept of what makes something funny, you could analyze that forever, but there’s no question that adding the word #!*! to any comedy bit made it funnier, at least at a time when you weren’t supposed to say naughty words. “He said what?!”

In a way those early pioneers of risqué comedy, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and George Carlin, to name a few, had it a lot easier than today’s comedians and vacuous celebs who have to try to push the envelope when there’s no place to go.

Once the floodgates of profanity were opened a tidal wave of promiscuity swept across the entire culture. Where once we young boys had to sneak a look at the lingerie section of The Sears Catalog to see women in underwear, we can now pick up any magazine and view not just intimate apparel but be informed about all sorts of personal hygiene products that women use.

I can still remember the shock I experienced when I heard the word for a certain feminine hygiene product first used on a TV commercial. This is a word that can be both a verb and a noun, but I had mostly heard it used as a derogatory name you called someone you didn’t like.

The greatest challenge for ay celebrity today, especially the ones whose only talent is looking good, (and there is an over-abundance of them) is finding something new to shock the public, and outdo other celebs that have already twerked, disrobed or otherwise debased themselves to notoriety. But short of their gynecology exam, just about everything’s been seen before, and nothing they can say is going to be shocking now.

I’m kind of torn between the ideas that the use of profanity is vulgar and base, and the notion that these are just words, and the more common place they become the less they will offend.  Maybe it’s because of the time I was brought up, when cursing was taboo, that makes me feel as though the use of certain words will never really be right. Still, I constantly catch myself saying words that are profane in relaxed conversation as a way to modify, fill in, or for emphasis, but they are really not necessary.  It’s just a habit.

For me, the use of profanity began as a form of comradary within a group of guys.  When you are young and with your peers in a work situation or sports or whatever, you use curse words to signal your worldliness or maturity.  Now, I’d like to kick that habit.

One of the ways to eliminate a habit, they say, is to substitute another one in its place. I’m thinking of getting in the habit of saying things like, ‘geesh’ ‘golly’, and ‘dang’ instead of my usual off color expletives.  Another term I’m partial to was used by Gomer Pyle back on the Andy Grffith Show –“Shazam!” I’d even be tempted to substitute the old Perry White saying from “Superman” in the fifties, ‘Great Caesar’s Ghost!’  What was up with that? As a kid I always wondered if anyone actually said that in real life.

Here’s one I’d like to throw out there for Miley Cyrus to use now that she’s done just about every profane thing that could be done.  Start using the expression “Jumping Jehosaphat.” Imagine all those unctuous reporters on the Insider and the like covering that!  Their heads might explode from the lack of controversary and outrage.

I have to acknowledge, of course, the real value of curse words in every day life which is acting as a safety valve for people on the brink of exasperation.  Even in an age of unlimited data about every personal circumstance, no one can calculate how many lives may have been spared from the wrath of do-it your-selfers working on home repairs, thanks to swearing.  Can any home improvement project be performed by a beleaguered husband without the aid of profanity? Not likely! In fact, many curse words are an integral part of the amateur mechanic’s jargon.

I guess I just miss the old days the old bad language was something relegated to certain areas of life and not in such broad use as it is today.  The same goes for sexuality and private bodily functions. I just don’t want to watch somebody’s colostomy on T.V, or even think of any of those things.  I’ve had enough of hearing about everybody’s disgusting personal details.  I’m so exasperated about it even profanities can’t express my disdain.  All I can say is Gee Whiz!

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