Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sing a song of swearing

In 1972, George Carlin proclaimed that there were seven dirty words that you couldn't say on television and so far,a good number of them have managed to make it to the airwaves(via regular network or basic cable).

He didn't included recorded music but most of those notorious words are also frowned upon there as well,mainly for radio friendly music like pop and country. However,profanity has slowly but surely slipped it's way into the mainstream,with Cee Lo Green actually getting several Grammy nominations for what the academy had to call "The Song" on the televised award show(it did win one award that night at least).

This phenomenon is an interesting pop culture development and while I don't quite have all seven of the words on Carlin's list represented here,this set of singalong swears should shed a little more light on the subject:

DAMN- This word is relatively mild in the curse word pantheon yet at one time,it was shocking to hear Clark Gable utter it at the end of Gone With The Wind.

By 1992,it was safe enough for Sophie B. Hawkins to use in the title of the single from her first album,Tongues and Tails. "Damn,I Wish I Was Your Lover" was a Top Ten hit more so overseas than in the U.S.,which still says something about the power of this meek little profanity:

HELL- This term,whether you tell a person that it should be their proper destination or not,does raise a few eyebrows which is probably why it was perfectly suited for the finale number of the cult flick Phantom of the Paradise.

"The Hell of It" is a sardonically charming send-off for many of the devious characters in that piece and strangely enough,Paul Williams was allowed to perform on such wholesome variety shows as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and the second season premiere of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mystery series:

BITCH-Granted, Elton John paved the way for this one with his now classic The Bitch is Back but Meredith Brooks kicked down the door on this baby in 1997 with her simply titled "Bitch".

DJs were nervous about playing this ode to female empowerment on the air and it was censored in many places. Yet, the music video for Bitch wasn't shy about letting Brooks declare her emotional independence as loudly as she wanted to:

ASSHOLE-While this word wasn't on Carlin's list,it's use was pretty shocking back in 1989 when Andrew Dice Clay uttered during the live showing of the MTV Music Video Awards. Clay was never known for his verbal restraint to begin with but that slip of the tongue helped to open the floodgates for this term.

A better comedian,Denis Leary,actually had a song titled "Asshole"(from his first major comedy album and show No Cure For Cancer)that was popular enough to actually get airplay on MTV,mainly in an edited version. The uncensored version is the one that his fans naturally prefer,of course:

FUCK YOU- This zippy phrase has been in vogue quite a bit lately,with Doctor Dre as well as Cee Lo Green making full use of it but I wanted to highlight Lily Allen's perky take on it.

Her "Fuck You" is sweetly done,with a pointed focus on those who deal in hate mongering on a daily basis. It's hard not to imagine a group of well dressed ladies on their way to a Sunday tea party singing this little ditty at a polite protest rally or two:

If this musical rendition of blue language has given you the blues,I do apologize but you have to admit that these words do exist and are used commonly throughout our society.

To ignore them or spackle over them at all times is foolish and while I do agree that they don't need to be spoken upon every occasion,the social barriers against them are no longer as powerful as they used to be. You could sigh and reminisce about the good old days when such language wasn't tolerated in public but keep in mind just how "good" those days actually were and be thankful for what authentic civility we do have left:

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

I love Denis Leary! His standup is the best.