I grew up in what I thought was the ultimate media age. I had comics, magazines, 80 cable channels, a VCR, home video games, underground radio and zines… I grew up in the first age where you could always find something to watch or play at any hour of the day or night. I grew up in the stone age compared to today and yet nothing has really changed. You still can’t say “bad words” on TV, you still can’t show realistic sex to the public and most of all language is still used to control not just you, but your media as well.
Why are some words okay and some words not? Why is it okay to say crap, doodie, turd, poop, feces, dung, excrement, manure, waste, defecate or dookie* but not shit? They all mean the same thing so why is that ONE WORD not okay to say in ‘polite society’? Why can we say sex, intercourse, bang, screw, roll, shag, boff, bonk or lay but not fuck? They all mean the same thing so is that ONE WORD not okay to say in ‘polite society’? Why do we criminalize specific words while synonyms of those very words are perfectly accepted? Arbitrary censorship (and make no mistake, that is what this is, censorship of language) keeps you out of control and keeps you off balance. When you control the words people use to communicate you also control the words they use to think with and when you control the words they think with you control the manner in which they think. Never assume the tacit lie that “bad words” are made so in an effort to protect a segment of our society, that is a most egregious falsehood, no, “bad words” are made such to limit how you talk which in term limits how you think. Making specific words (even those with many acceptable synonyms as illustrated above) “bad words” gives society a way to punish and marginalize segments of society they feel are undesirable. Back in the 1950’s, for example, “black words” were taboo on TV and radio as a way to refuse blacks entrance into mainstream white society. In the 1960’s “hippy words” were not allowed on TV or radio as a way to marginalize those whom society at large had deemed undesirable. Words have only the power we as a society allow them to have and I feel that society has no right to decide what words I can use, what words I can hear and most of all what words I can think.
A few months ago I wrote about how words have power but I focused on the hate filled words and how words only have the power you allowed them to have, this is not that different even if the focus is changed. If you enable the word fuck with the false authority it currently has, then YOU have given it power and YOU have allowed that to spread like a malevolent force. You allowed a group think to take over and you let society decide what was right for you. Is that what you want? Are you comfortable with others determining what you can say? You may be but I am not and I never will be.
Once society has laid down the rules you must follow to engage as a functional member of society everything becomes homogenized and sterile. Once everything becomes homogenized and sterile you must go outside the mainstream to find anything that provokes thought. Look at TV for example but this very much applies to any medium. TV is regulated by the FCC which dictates what can and must be palatable for mass consumption and that, by definition, requires watering the material down and thinning it out. On TV you are not ALLOWED (again going back to what they will let you do over what you wish to do) to say “dirty” words, you are not ALLOWED to show the human body nude, you are not ALLOWED to view intercourse, you are not ALLOWED to discuss topics deemed unsuitable, you are not ALLOWED free thought because free thought is dangerous. The guardians of the TV landscape neuter language, castrate thoughts and emasculate ideals… they always have. Lets look at TV in another way though… what are the most memorable TV moments in a historical and cultural context? Are they the bland run of the mill clutter which has become the standard or are they the moments of clarity and brash bravado which breaks from the standard and thrusts something different into the ether? These moments only have value due to the mild and insipid surroundings they find themselves in. They stand out as something new not due to really being fresh but simply due to being fresh by comparison. With that said, are these moments truly something of value and consequence or are they simply the evolution of the tiniest seeds of a rebellion? I feel they indeed have merit as they progress the artform and move it from the humble place it originated. Moreover, these moments push an artificial boundary which I feel was erroneously placed on the medium to start with.
As I said, every medium has this revolution bubbling just below the surface but part of my point (I had a point right?) is that it should be sharing equal time with that surface and not always be hidden. Comics for example have always been a rather tame medium where mainstream companies are concerned. You can’t say those same “bad words” as on TV, you can’t show sex, you can’t show violence and most of all you can’t stir up anything that might upset the mass audience you are required to hit. Independent comics on the other hand had not such restrictions and were a place where ideas were limited only to themselves and not artificial demands which limit creativity. Radio had a similar underground as did magazines as did gaming as did every vehicle for ideas. Ideas should not be restricted and neither should words. Words are ideas verbalized, words are ideas visualized and words have only the power given to them by you and me, yes me too. I empower words with only as much as I feel they deserve and yet I am held to task for using words that YOU feel deserve more ire. You try to keep my thoughts confined to the narrow mainstream process and all you end up doing is giving the inevitable underground a new member.
*Just to name the ones off the top of my head without the need for google.
Tell me to shut the fuck up at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to leave a comment even if it’s a nasty one (especially if it’s a nasty one).