Radio/lyrics - argh

The mid-nineties were a haven of politeness and linguistic respect? I think Starving Artist would like to have a word with you.

Or maybe, just maybe you had Terr-like parents who kept you fairly insulated from the real world.

Holy fuck! Don’t you think you’re a little young to be such a crotchety old man?

Nitpick, itt should be “keep,” present tense.

Its all situational, and that is the lesson that civilizes. “Bad” language is appropriate and, more importantly, inoffensive when you are hanging out with your buds and sharing sexual misinformation. You aren’t likely to really hurt anyone’s feelings by calling him a “motherfucker”. But in front of your grandfather, who thinks your Dad is too easy on you, and you should be in a strict military school, a degree of decorum is called for. I don’t expect such decorum from rap, any more than I actually expect music. But I digress.

Forbidding words is a mere restriction, it doesn’t teach, it doesn’t offer the chance to explore when and where to say what to whom.

As regards cursing, I remind of the Master Clemens:

“In certain desperate and trying circumstances, swearing offers a release denied even to prayer”.

This frustrates me for completely different reasons.

I don’t give a shit about profanity. (In fact, I’m generally for it.) However, I do a radio show on a real terrestrial radio station where the FCC’s ridiculous community standards rule applies. What’s more, the station is in a very conservative part of the world and run by old hippies, and a lot of people would like to see it shut down just out of pure spite.

So it’s a really, really bad thing when we let profanity through. Did I mention that my show is devoted to new indie rock, and that a big chunk of the show is always devoted to relatively obscure music that has just come out that week? I play a lot of songs that don’t have any lyrics up on the web yet and that I’ve only had a chance to listen to once or twice and I might have missed the “fuck” thrown into the second verse or a late repeat of the chorus.

(The few labels who send me music often send an info sheet with it that tells me which tracks are “FCC Clean”, but those labels are few and far between and the ones that do usually get it to me so late that I’ve already played it if I’m going to.)

And don’t get me started on the bands whose names I can’t even say. I’ve enjoyed recent records from the likes of Fucked Up and Starfucker, and I’ve played their stuff, but I have to just give the name of the album and tell listeners to Google it.

Fortunately no one really listens to my show so it doesn’t end up being that big of a deal, but when I let something slip I usually hear about it from somebody.

Yep. You and the OP and BigT are all pretty much right about an important fact: namely, we’re in the midst of a cultural transition from a society where such words couldn’t be included in ordinary, neutral, non-transgressive speech to a society where they can.

I’m not particularly in favor of this transition myself, but I’m not upset about it. I’m quite convinced that thirty years from now, expressions like “what the fuck” will be no more remarkable or extreme than “what the hell” is nowadays. Maybe you still won’t say either of them in circumstances of the absolute most extreme decorum, but in most circumstances nobody will give them a second thought. Meh.

However, we’re not there yet, and the road to get there is gonna be somewhat bumpy. At present, the territory of “ordinary, neutral, non-transgressive speech” is about equally populated by those who still think words like “fuck” don’t belong in it, and those who think they’re fine. So for a while yet, the anti-cussers are still going to resent hearing such words in ordinary usage, while the cussers are going to resent being scolded for using them, and everybody’s going to be somewhat miffed as a result.

Heh, this reminds me of when I brought my copy of Catcher In The Rye to school to read during free time. I was in 6th grade and I had several teachers ask if my parents knew that I was reading it. (This was in 1973 fwiw) I remember being amazed that anyone would be worried about the fact that I was reading.

That does highlight one of the drawbacks of the general trend toward greater permissiveness in written and spoken language: if nobody considers such works shocking anymore, we can’t exploit the natural rebelliousness and anti-authority inclinations of teenagers as a way to get teenagers to read them. :stuck_out_tongue: (Not saying that you personally were reading CITR just as an act of defiance, saje, but I bet plenty of adolescents have.)

Maybe we’ll have to invoke newer political-correctness speech norms instead and denounce literary classics for being too racist and sexist instead of for being too obscene and profane. I dunno if that will work as well, though.

Just so. The vilest profanity, in almost any context, will no longer get anybody’s attention. However any disparagement toward any racial, ethnic, or gender identity group will place a speaker or work of art under immediate suspicion. Radio stations will play “motherfucker”, but most will not play Dire Straits and include the verse about “the little faggot, he’s a millionaire”. This is the modern equivalent of profanity.

Hmm, wonder if that has anything do with a difference between a generic offensive word versus something that is actually targeted toward a person? Nah, it must just be runaway political correctness.

I’m not a fan of radio edits and Wal-Mart can fuck right the hell off for censoring artists’ work, but attempts to discourage the marginalization of people have noble intentions. And you’re wrong, edits aren’t limited to racial, ethic, or gender slurs. Most edits garble references to drugs and alcohol, as well as common profanity and obscure references to sex acts. Some of the satellite radio stations don’t edit at all, and it’s usually possible to find unedited versions of songs on YouTube, but edits for general public consumption garble every expletive and sometimes render songs meaningless and unsingable.

Take a listen to the edited version of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. It’s a cute and funny song which disparages conspicuous consumption with zero malice implied, yet on MTV and FM radio stations, every single curse word is bleeped from beginning to end, not just the word “honky”. Even though I forbid my niece to sing along on principle to discourage her from cursing, I bought her the unedited cd because the sanitized version is awkward and not as funny. And when I handed the cd to her, I explained the intention behind censorship, the importance of refraining from using those words, and the compromise artists are often forced to make in order to sell records. I have no doubt she knows what all the words mean and why the songwriter chose to use slang and expletives in good fun, and she knows better than to use certain words in polite company. She’s ten, got a few behavior issues and learning challenges, yet she gets it.

I completely understand and agree.

But it was the ambience of the moment in time, stuck in a car on a crosscountry road trip, slogging by Nashville on a gray afternoon, the music was a downer. I just put in some Dolly Parton to lighten the atmosphere. Like a dagger through the heart…lol

Well, that’s different. Driver picks the music, everyone knows that :slight_smile: