You could get whiplash understanding the way we deal with, shall we say, the coarseness of public discourse.
On the one hand, you’ve got an exceptionally popular blog called “Shit My Dad Says.” On the other hand, you have the Focus on the Family types, complaining that CBS has gone so far as to call its TV adaptation of the blog, “$#*! My Dad Says.” Or, as it is pronounced, “Bleep My Dad Says.”
Bleep. Yow. There’s a game-changer.
People are moving away from network TV to cable and pay-cable (or they’re watching it on the Internet) – and one of the reasons is that these networks are so timid that they freak even when someone complains that they’re saying $#*!
The cable channels are a little braver. Watch “Mad Men” on AMC or “Rescue Me” and “Louie” on FX and, while they can’t say fuck or cunt, the characters say shit, asshole, cock, pussy, tits – most of the words George Carlin said you couldn’t say. They even offer a little discreet partial nudity: bare asses, side views of breasts – but no nipples.
It was instructive in the final season of “Nip/Tuck,” that there was a scene of a nude woman whose nipples were absent. Large breasts, completely naked – but no nipples. Is this the line, then? Breasts apparently are OK – it’s female nipples that are obscene or socially unacceptable (because topless men – nipples and all – are merely beefcake).
A nipple-less breast can be seen on any department-store mannequin. Apparently it’s unthreatening enough on a human female that it can be shown on cable. But women’s nipples? Wow – that’s the downfall of family values encapsulated in one tiny patch of human tissue.
But that’s how weird and schizophrenic this society still is. The Puritans ruled New England 400 years ago, but their spirit still infects our daily lives.
Earlier this year, I marveled at the fact that I was seeing ads all over, on TV and elsewhere, for a comic-book movie called “Kick-Ass.” And it was being reviewed and reported on without problem in daily newspapers, on TV and the like.
One day, I happened to see a series of taxis with “Kick-Ass” ads on their rooftop marquees. As I was walking along Madison Avenue, I found myself at a stoplight next to one such taxi – which was pulled up alongside a bus with an ad for the reality weight-loss show, “Dance Your Ass Off.” Except the bus poster had the title as “Dance Your A** Off.” Next to the poster for “Kick-Ass.”
At this very moment, there’s a huge billboard near Times Square advertising a new line of Levis, with the slogan, “All asses were not created equal.”
Which reminded me that, a few years ago, there was a minor blow-up during the New York election campaign when then-Sen. Al D’Amato called his opponent, Charles Schumer, a putz. This year, people couldn’t get enough of the movie, “Dinner for Schmucks.” And there are ads in papers and online for a new comedy called, “Douchebag,” which has also become a popular epithet on, of all places, network TV.
Are we f***ing crazy?
Absolutely. Particularly when it comes to shit like this.