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.)   


  1. In my opinion, it is completely unnecessary. I struggle with this on a daily basis with Justin. He continues to use that word and Sadie has actually said she would like Justin more if he didn't use it! He adores Sadie so I thought it would help if she told him but it has only made a slight difference.
    Sadie sits on my lap when I'm on facebook often so I have felt the exact same thing. Even many sitcoms that we watch have subjects and language that is completely offensive. It used to be that kind of tv wasn't on until after 9pm. I never thought I would say this, but I completely agree with my parents in restricting what kids watch on tv!

    1. It is a sad day indeed, when we come to the realization that our parents might have been trying to protect our innocence for our own good, rather than just trying to keep us from having fun. I would said that The Mayor needs to give Justin a call regarding his language, but we'll discuss that more in private!

  2. I am so guilty of this. I never really thought twice about it. My parents and everyone around me cussed like sailors. So to me it just seems normal. I guess I never realized it could offend someone.You now have me thinking...

    1. Well, I do encourage thought. :P You know, while I may be put off by the language I see so often these days, I can still respect the right of other people to do and speak as they choose. Up to the point that it actually damages someone, I mean. I just wanted to discuss something that seems to be becoming more prevalent. I still choose to read/watch things that might have bad language, and I have no right to voice my offense to the speaker/writer because it was my choice to partake. I wish more FBers would figure that out.

    2. I am glad to see this can be brought up and discussed in an adult manner... It shows there is hope for the world :) I was worried when I saw it, one of the reasons I followed the comments, I can't let one of my peeps get bashed even if there may be a difference of opinion!! You put the idea out there very nicely. Good job!

  3. I don't routinely use cursing in jokes but I do use strong language in every other aspect of life. I honestly do blame my profession, I'm a paramedic, and I spend every working day surrounded by police, firefighters and other medics that, well, let's say sailors have nothing on us first responders. I then go home, my husband has the same job, and there's more cursing.

    I've been a medic for nearly five years, I have one friend that isn't a medic and that's literally the only friend I have who doesn't interchange the f-bomb with any random adjective. His friends are bikers, medics or a combination of both. The only time someone around me isn't cursing is when my niece is there. My niece, mind you, not their children, they'll curse up a storm in front of their children.

    I've tried on multiple occasions to clean up my language but when everyone you know is dropping the f-bomb like candy on Halloween, it's nearly an act of ostracization not to let a few slip out.

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