Thursday, October 18, 2012

What the Heck is That Bleep Doing There?

I love to laugh.  This being a fact, I choose to follow several pages on Facebook that encourage my giggles on a regular basis.  I have noticed an alarming trend, however.  It seems that some people, whom I consider very funny, believe profanity is necessary and/or useful in comedy.  Why is this?

Growing up, I believed that the "f-word" was a horrible, terrible thing.  Today, I can certainly think of a couple of words I consider more jarring.  But I have to wonder if that is due to the overuse or commonality of the "f-word."  That other words are now more shocking to me may just be due to their still rare use in our everyday lives.  

The question I have is this: How does the use of coarse language make a joke funnier?  I believe it reduces the humor and the number of people who will be exposed to it.  For example, I may shout with laughter over a Facebook post because I have become so accustomed to seeing the "f-word" that I just skim right over it.  But, if my eight-year-old Dolly asks why I am laughing, I can't share it with her.  As she is now a reader, I have to shield her from some of the contents of my Newsfeed.  I realize I could choose not to follow those pages, but I do enjoy the laughter.  I have never commented on a post and expressed offense, because I'm smart enough to know I did not have to expose myself to the language at all.  However, I won't share posts on either my personal page or my public page if they include profanity.  This reduces the exposure that page receives, which in turn reduces their potential fan base and readership.  

How does profanity reduce a joke?  This is pretty simple.  For some people, profanity is not a part of their daily lives, and when it is inserted unnecessarily into a joke, it is shocking and the focus shifts from the subject matter onto the wording.  In most cases, it can be easily removed without affecting the humor.

So, why then, do so many intelligent people, who have been blessed with a hilarity-inducing sense of humor, insist on using this type of language?  Is it the age old, "Everyone else is doing it"?  Or is the common use of language like this just pointing to the desensitization of our culture towards coarseness?

I know there are some parents who think it is funny when their children pop off with the occasional use of profanity.  I don't.  I think society is pushing children into adult behavior far too soon and this exhibits another failure to keep our kids innocent for as long as possible.  Of course, I try to parent in a "do as I do" environment, rather than a "don't do what I do, until you are an adult" environment.  I can accept that my thoughts on that type of parenting will probably offend some people, but that can't keep me from voicing my concern over what type of children are being raised today.  

Some parents should come with this sticker.
So, tell me, is it possible to be funny without using words I'd hope you wouldn't use at a parent-teacher conference?  (I would have said "while talking to your boss" but I'm pretty sure some workplaces encourage that type of immature behavior.)