Frack. Frick. Fug. Frigging. Fenorking. Freaking. Funked-up. Boffing. Boinking. Deuced. The F-Word. The F-Bomb!
Generally speaking, these euphemisms are substitutes for the unholiest of all words,“fuck.” When you hear any of these terms — depending upon the context, of course — your brain understands them as “fuck.” Simply reading the word will send you straight to Heck, so I guess if you made it this far I owe you an apology.
Euphemisms are needless conduits to reality. They don’t work unless the real word already is in your head. Cut the cheese and say what you mean.
This past Sunday, Bill Nye The Science Guy dropped the F-Bomb (seriously; that term is far more banal than the source term) on Last Week With John Oliver something like five times in five minutes. It was hilarious, but the fact that it was just proves the word still has some power. This astonishes me, as it achieved commonplacehood a couple generations ago. Nonetheless, it persists.
We shouldn’t need these words to shock. Pick up a newspaper. Turn on the news. Take a look at your retirement fund. Think about all those people who voted for Trump. That’s the stuff that should shock you. The fact that most of the near-infinite circumlocutions truly are sophomoric shows how impotent the word fuck really is.
Yet these words continue to offend those who make the conscious decision to be offended, to show that they are superior to the riff-raff because they are better, because they think euphemisms show off that superiority. These are people who keep their noses so high in the sky they would drown in a light drizzle. They are elitists who want to delineate their moral dominance. They have no functional belief system other than their own elitism; they haunt the rosters of both the left and the right.
A week ago today, the National Review — one of the comparatively sane conservative publications — published a well-written essay by Heather Wilhelm, who probably is a very nice person with an obvious sense of humor, but who probably wouldn’t like me very much.
The piece was called “The Banality of the F-Bomb,” and she starts with several instances of the use of the word — starting with Maurice Chevalier, for which she deserves serious props. But Ms. Wilhelm establishes her moral superiority by asking “What is wrong with everyone? Have we lost our national “edit” button? (I’ll answer my own question, because the answer is obvious: Yes.)”
No. No, we haven’t. We’ve simply gone honest on your ass. We’ve accepted the fact that times change and some words that previously were unacceptable are now acceptable and other words that previously were acceptable are now unacceptable. Fuck is in common usage, but we now have the N-word to replace a previously common phrase.
Is that progress? Not really. It’s fashion. By 2076 other words will be verboten and some others will get a reprieve. Calm down; I’m not taking a position on which words should be good and which words should be bad. I’m simply pointing out the vicissitudes of history.
If a single word causes you to foam at the mouth and writhe around in an epileptic fit, that’s on you. If that word causes the overwhelming majority of people to foam at the mouth and writhe around in an epileptic fit, that’s on society.
Besides, despite common liberal philosophy words in and of themselves really are harmless. If I say the word fuck to you, you will still be the same person you were the moment before and it will be your reaction that might be childish. It’s concepts that are dangerous. I’m much more concerned about White Nationalists than I am about whether they use the N-Word itself or simply say “N-Word” as illegitimate proof that they are not racist. If they want to call me a kike, that’s fine. Forewarned is forearmed.
I agree with Ms. Wilhelm’s final observation that “Americans will get bored with using it.” Well, not bored so much as running out the fashion clock. Of course, what goes around comes around.
Euphamisers are shitheads. Is that the S-Word, or the S-Bomb? I dunno. Fuck ‘em.
• • • • •
Mr. Gold will be joining much of the Pop Culture Squad tomorrow (Friday) through Sunday at the East Coast Comicon at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Expo Center. He doesn’t make as many shows as he used to, so if you’re in the area drop by and tell him to bugger off.
One thought on “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #037: F-Bombs Away!”
The worst thing about this post is it led me down a rabbit hole to find the songs to which Heather Wilhelm referred, neither of which I knew, one of which was so bland and insipid that I nearly flatlined listening to it. The other was… well, fucking perfect in how it challenged me.
I’m not much to use the words, but I always refer to my philosopher-saint, George Carlin, in these matters. It’s not the word. It’s the intent.
As a writer, however, I find the usage often lazy and sloppy. I like to reserve the usage for when it’s sharp and makes its point. If you use the euphemism, however, you don’t have much of a point to make. (Or you’re just being kind to your Aunt Myrtle.)