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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Word to your...

Here is a phrase that is the killer of comedy with an opinion. The death blow to any conversation and the blanket statement that breeds mediocrity in anything it is uttered around. It is usually proceeded by the affable phrase, by the way...
By the way, they would like the comedy show to not have any swearing, sexual, political, racial, religious or otherwise offensive material.
Seriously.
Words. Again, were talking about words. And, excuse me but a week before the Inauguration of Americas first African-American president and I am asked to not acknowledge the history we all share at this moment? It would be bad enough if this were yet another company obsessed with creating a thought free zone for their staff of sterile minded cubicle drones, but this is for a college. College! You know, the place invented by the Greeks to mentor new minds in the way of critical thinking and philosophy.
The gig goes great. I actually end up talking about things that are political, religious, sexual, racial and otherwise offensive if handled improperly. I perform on a beautiful stage in a college theater at 10AM. Oh, thats the other thing, its at 10AM in the morning. Is anything funny at that hour? Actually, an audience of smart progressive teachers is an ideal crowd for me. After the first few minuets get steady laughs, people relax a bit and it goes well.
The whole thing got me thinking about our preoccupation with words and feelings in America.
When did the Land of the free and home of the brave get so intimidated by words? Its no wonder corporate America became a nest for illegal plotting. You weren't allowed to think about anything else.
The thing is, each side of the social spectrum practices censorship. Strangely enough, the right tends to control access to knowledge while the left wants to ban concepts. Racism, sexism- things of that nature. With the right it is military hardware, ancient books- things like that. Both play games. Semantics as propaganda is one. All these terms are designed to obscure the actual meaning or purpose of what there describing.
Land mines are anti-personal deployment devices.
Retarded became challenged.
A man and a woman married with kids is a traditional family.
Homosexual is now gay.
Putting more pollution in the air was named the clear skies initiative.
These are not descriptions of real things. These are slogans. Advertisements for ideas. Brand names for a way of being.
Eight years ago, right after 9/11, being in debt was practically elevated to the same level as flying the flag. Look where that got everyone? Obviously we can be talked into doing something against our best instincts. The entire advertisement business relies on this. And its all done with words. They are the roots that keep everything in bloom. All the shades of meaning and the bright colors of adjectives are all supported by the true meaning in older words. We even call them root words.
We demand others not use certain words.
We ask others to refer to us with these words.
Some words can be said on TV at set times and some words can only be used late at night on TV.
The president weasels out of a question by asking what the definition of is, is?
Words have become our primary concern in this country. You would think that we solved all our other problems. But no, its words and the power we give them that concerns us most these days.
A boy walks into a school with a gun and kills several students and himself. Its the top story on the news for a few days. Everyone shakes their head in disbelief.
No one understands why.
A boy walks into a room with a word on his T-shirt that offends someone and a lengthy legal battle starts. Years drag by as court after court and appeal after appeal all pass some judgement on not just the word, but if a person has the right to show that word in public.
Judges, lawyers, jurors, reporters and public opinion all debate the way to argue with words, the words that can be used in the fight and finally the intent and meaning of the word that brought them all to this point.
I wrote a blog recently about Prince Harry getting in trouble for using racist terms while in war. Everyone agrees that war is bad but in the middle of this mass murder he uttered something so terrible that it required a royal apology. Not for the death and destruction unleashed from the barrel of his gun- for the words falling from his mouth!
A person even posted a comment taking issue with me. In their eyes, it is a just cause to want a world free of racist terms. I agree. But if we slump our shoulders at the inevitability of war and loose our collective shit when a bad word is spoken out loud, we might be in worse shape than anyone wants to admit.
Word to your mother, Bitches!

3 comments:

BT said...

"When did the Land of the free and home of the brave get so intimidated by words?" - I agree, what the hell happened? Why is everyone so goddamn uptight about words? Being PC and all that crap. Pretty soon, we won't be able to speak. Oh geez, should I apologize for saying goddamn?

When did this country fill up with a bunch of sissies who get so hung up on words?

BTW, a much less insignificant, yet still relevant, example of just how sensitive we've gotten...I'll never forget a few years ago watching "The Breakfast Club" on TBS. There is a part where Bender says to the pricipal of the school, "Eat my shorts." But what did that become on TBS? "Eat my SOCKS." Are you serious?

Joe said...

When Nick at night started re-running the classic American sit-com, All In the Family, they received so many complaints that at the start of the show they had to air a disclaimer letting people know that the character of Archie Bunker only said the outrageously offensive comments to show how dumb such ignorant thinking can be. Somewhere between the 70’s and the 90’s the American public lost the ability to distinguish between insensitive comments and social commentary done with irony and the actual phrases racists, sexists and bigots use.
Truly pathetic.

Dean said...

"Enhanced interrogation" is probably my all-time favorite. Waterboarding is new and improved, with lemon-scented water!