The F*** Word

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Yeah, that word.

I first heard that word when I was about 5 years old, hanging out with my buds in the billiards room at Lander College while my dad taught his classes.  I wasn’t enrolled at Lander, but I got an education there, the kind of education that was in every way superlative to the pre-K school that I hated (I was a Pre-K dropout).  My continuing education program extended through subsequent summers between the Elementary School grades that the government forced upon those of my age.   College is where the real learning is at.

What did I learn?

  • No one is impressed when you strike a ball and it goes into a pocket.  You have to use the cue ball first.
  • I learned that Bluebird Grapefruit Juice (cocktail servings) looked eerily similar to Bluebird Orange Juice.  It’s not all roses in the ol’ pool hall. image
  • I learned that invoking my Dad’s name brought legitimacy to my claim for my right to exist. 
  • I also learned that size and age doesn’t matter.  When you demonstrate that you can, in fact, sink a ball by first hitting the cue ball, you get invited to play doubles as the need arises amongst the comings and goings.  In my upperclassmen years, many actually wanted me on their team, because I practiced every day and was, by their reckoning, pretty f***in’ good.  Losers.
  • Oh, and my vocabulary expanded.

And so it was that I became capable by age 7 or so of assembling vast streams of properly joined expletives.  I didn’t dare reveal my genius to my parents, but no one in the neighborhood could compete when I chose to apply myself.

In the 7th grade, I had a particularly good English teacher who taught us how to diagram sentences.  I didn’t necessarily enjoy the process, but visually looking at how words fit structurally made sense, and the regular vocabulary tests proved that while I had a rough idea of what many words meant, the details were exacting enough to convince me that I was not expressing myself as capably as I had thought, even if people understood it anyway.

magnifying-glass.jpgThe F*** word, properly examined, doesn’t work for me.  To begin with, the casual observer understands that the word refers to a particular sexual act.  Most of those knowledgeable in such matters would very likely characterize the experience as something pleasurable.  Yet, it’s the opposite that is intended when the F*** word is used.

Beyond the nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, direct and indirect objects, participles, etc., let’s look at interjections.  Yes, amongst other definitions, an interjection is a term in grammar, to wit: 

a. any member of a class of words expressing emotion, distinguished in most languages by their use in grammatical isolation, as Hey! Oh! Ouch! Ugh!

b. any other word or expression so used, as Good grief! Indeed!

When you’re working on a project at home and drop a small part through a crevice or lift your head into an obstruction, you might utter, “Heavens!”   No? 

Actually, the likely interjection, at least in more civilized times, was “S**t!”  Yeah, that’s another word I couldn’t' say around my parents.  Or other adults.  But, I get that one.  I won’t bother defining the term, but when used as an interjection, there remains a reasonable correspondence between the cause and the utterance.  Neither is held in high regard.

Well, how about "Damn!”  Well, yes, that one works also.  It’s still not parentally approved at age 7, but it has a biblical basis that calls forth a heap of justice on the offending event.  It’s the thinking man’s curse word., whether he thinks about it or not.

The F*** word?  What the F**** is up with that?

See?  Where’s the context?  It doesn’t work!

Well, the biased proponent of the offending term might also note that the F*** word can also be used as a verb, adjective and adverb.  Other expletives suffer in comparison to that utility.  But where does that get you?

“I F***ed it up.” 

Sorry, you lose.  The context still doesn’t fit.  Think about it.  For those who began saying “I screwed it up” before “elevating” themselves to the F*** phrase, what exactly has your experience with screws included to be so reviled?  They’re pretty F***ing useful, I say (doubly proving my point).

And so it came to pass that I understood that when people use bad words, to some extent, it indicates a lack of thoughtfulness, diction, and/or effort to say exactly what it is they mean to convey.

That was then.

A little closer to now, in 1993, Sir Paul McCartney, a man who has certainly profited from his prose, wrote “Big Boys Bickering.”  In either a bid for relevance or to give an edge to his pop flavor, he included the F*** word in what from the start was a completely forgettable song.  Chorus as follows:

Big boys bickering,

That’s what they’re doin’ all the day

Big boys bickering,

F***in’ it up in ev’ry way, ev’ry way. (my edit)

At the time, McCartney said he used the F*** word because he had never used it in a song before.  It certainly increased his stature, eh?  It was banned on the BBC, where he hadn’t been so respectfully banned since 1972, when he released “Hi, Hi, Hi,” a nice little rocker about getting hi (sic).

Does the culture reflect the people, or do the people shape the culture?  Do the arts reflect societal shifts, or do artists push societal change?

In the 2011 Grammy Awards, there was a fine performance by a Brit-folk (yes, there is such a thing) group named Mumford & Sons, intriguing enough that I bought their CD (which I’ll review shortly).  Standing in stark contrast to both the music (which conjures Appalachia with attitude) and the lyrics (which frequently point to the transcendent), is “Little Lion Man,” the most popular iTunes download.  Again with the chorus:


But it was not your fault but mine

It was your heart on the line

I really f***ed it up this time (my edit, again, sorry!)

Didn’t I, my dear

The F*** word seemingly approaches mainstream acceptance.

Moving, then, to the Grammy winner for Urban/Alternative Performance (and also nominated for record of the year and song of the year), we find Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You.”  (no edit needed!).

Yes, my uninformed readers, that’s the name of the song.  And to say that it’s featured in the chorus would be to understate the repeated, joyful immersion in the phrase as it is celebrated in a Motown rave-up that resurrects the long dead spirits of Detroit.

For those that want to 1) witness our entrance to post-modern civil discourse or 2) revel in a snappy put down of gold diggers, click as follows:  The entertaining video below or the alternate “spell it out for you” Video.  Oh, and the s**t word is just a bonus.

You know you want to click this.

1 comment :

  1. I'll be interested in seeing your review of Mumford & Sons. I just dl'ed that album!