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November 13, 2009

Watch Your Language!


By Kathy Sweeney, who is not easy to shock

What has happened to our national vocabulary?  It was bad enough when 'erectile dysfunction' became acceptable dinner conversation.  But who the hell decided that 'douche bag' should join the ranks of everyday nouns?  

Blog typical-douchebag2 Hey - I swear more than most people - in fact, I have to give it up for Lent to keep myself from dropping the F bomb in front of someone like my mother.  But, really?!  Douche bag?  Seriously?  Do people even know what it actually means?  Because when I explained it to a car load of high school freshman boys, I got a resounding: "WHOA! TMI!"  followed by some muttering and various remarks about how thank God they weren't girls.

I haven't heard them use the term since.

As a public service to the rest of the blog, I will not get into detail.  Suffice it to say that you should know what the hell words mean before they come out of your mouth.  And if you don't - look it up - there are only about five zillion ways to find a definition these days.  

It's one thing if you hear it on late night Comedy Central.  But last week I heard it in an early evening sitcom.  At least it hasn't yet become a Jeopardy category.  I mean, talk about multiple ways to go - you could get every question from "What is a feminine hygiene device?" to "What makes up the Board of Goldman Sachs?"  Yeah, that was unnecessary.  I wish I was sorry.

Blog swearing When I was a kid, I heard someone use the word dildo.  It is a funny sounding word.  So I used it.  In a conversation with my boyfriend's mom.  Thankfully, she laughed and then  explained what it meant.  Looking back, I realize she probably provided me with a lot more detail than necessary, which probably explains why she was always in a good mood.

While we're on the subject - I have to repeat one of my current (and continuing) major irritants.  The pharmaceutical commercials.  Look - I feel bad for people who have bathroom issues.  But I REALLY do not want to know whether a bunch of strange men can or cannot go to the bathroom during a golf game.  I still cringe at those stupid Cialis bathtubs.  Is that some kind of secret code - you know, like bananas or caves or flying in dreams?  I most certainly do NOT want to know if a couple has intestinal problems that rise to the level that they need to discuss it in the middle of a restaurant.  I'm glad there are meds for all these things.  But I don't want to know the details.  Remember the old days, when the most personal thing you'd hear from even feminine product commercials was about "that not so fresh feeling"?

It's as if Saturday Night Live is writing these commercials.  

Or is it just me?


For those of you following the Jeopardy Teen Tournament - YES!!!!  Rachel Rothenberg ROCKS!  Feel free to discuss at length, but I didn't want to start to bore people with another Jeopardy blog.  That will come on Sunday.  And for those of you not following the Teen Tournament - tonight is your last night to watch smart kids in action.  GO TEAM RACHEL!


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Preach it, Kathy! I'm no prude, but if folks are going to write about sensitive subjects, couldn't they pick a right way and right time (not to mention, right place) to do so? Television ISN'T, at least not for commercials. I seriously don't remember any feminine (or masculine) hygiene products being advertised on television when I was growing up, until the night that I was, a senior in college, sitting on the sofa with my boyfriend while his roommate sat nearby, all having a great time together, watching television, and suddenly there were not one, not two, but three commercials in a row for tampons, douche, etc. We were not naieve, but were too stunned to even make fun of the sudden arrival of such ads, much less look at each other--the silence was thunderous, and we all drew a deep breath of relief when the program started again.

I hate to admit it, but the older I get, the more prudish I've become. Some things just don't need to be commercials on television....

LOL, I remember those old days of watching TV with a beau. Nothing killed the make-out mood faster than a tampon commercial.

I admit to liking made-up words for insults. You probably know the one I'm thinking about today, Kathy.

OMG---Rachel! We were so excited last night! She was ON FIRE! We're having a dinnner party at our house tonight, and I'm sorry to say we're going to have to eat with the TV on. And anyone who complains is a gleeking hedge pig.*

* Check out the Shakespearean insult kit here: http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/shake_rule.html

Good grief, and I remember when a commercial for a Maidenform bra showed the garment worn OVER a leotard, because one couldn't show such things on television.

One more reason why I prefer to record shows so I can zip past the commercials.

I'm with you, Kathy!

And YAY Rachel! So totally cool. Can't wait until today's episode. She rocks!

I'm also a big fan of the Shakespeare insults--my 9th graders always loved them, too.

Modess... because. It took me years to figure out because what, so maybe that was too subtle.

I, too, am appalled at some language. The word "frigging" is a perfect example of word meaning that got lost in translation. It means female masturbation, in case you wondered. But I've even heard it used on sitcoms in recent years, which truly shocked me. They can't say shit--which is still one word you rarely hear on network TV--but they can say that? Whoa.

It's no wonder we've lost the habit of civility in this country, when nothing is sacred, no bodily function is private, and every little bit of dirty laundry can be aired without repercussion. I really do pine for the age when there was still a bit of mystery left.

Docolax! I hate those commercials. I'm working out in the condo gym late at night and have to watch constipation ads. Ick!
And Web news is getting almost as bad. AOL headline this week: WOMAN'S VAGINA FALLS OUT.
Double ick.

I'm to the point where most of the commercials actually irritate me - that Geico thing with the poppy eyes? HATE it. I thought I hated the caveman commercials, but these are worse. If I had Geico, I'd switch to something else.

Also - those STUPID beer commercials where they edit in NFL coaches. Hated them from Day one.

Plus, now we've got the inflammatory health care ads - where everybody tries to freak you out by saying the other side is going to cause Armageddon. All lies.

Just when I thought it was safe, that old Meow, meow meow meow song is back. Ear worm.

I LOVE commercials! My favorites are any one with a talking or dancing animal. Not a fan of the pharmacutical commercials though. The list of side affects always makes my mouth hang open in awe of anyone who would willing take these drugs.

I also swear way too much. But I never understood using words like frikkin' or friggin in place of the real F word. It doesn't sound any less harsh.

Well, I'm old and remember reading about the,"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" line from the GWTW movie which, according to my mother, I heard the first time while in the womb. (Loved the movie, but didn't care for the book. Found it boring and poorly written. (Understand why Mitchell only wrote one book and I thank the publishing gods for that).
And yes, Rachel does rock. But then I always
am rooting on the female contestants. I at least maintain my feminist credentials that way.

I am with you on this. Yes, I cuss too much and yes, I hate the commercials you mention and others. I've been married to the same guy for over thirty years, and those commercials still make us look at the ceiling. That's why I got rid of the TV several years back. Now I only have to see them when I'm with my mother--who mutes the commercials. Whap! And I hate the tax-cheat commercials: Hey, do you owe the IRS a ton of money? Give it to us instead, and let your fellow citizens pick up your righteous tax tab. The DUI lawyers . . . the "have you ever taken X Drug? You have hit the jackpot!"

Sorry to miss Rachel, but, the TV stays out of this house..
Excellent post. You should re-run it every six months or so, because, sadly, it's never going to become irrelevant.

Kathy=I am so glad that I don't have young children who would ask,"What does that mean?" It was bad enough living in a college town explaining what messages on the back of T-shirts meant while standing in line at the grocery store.

Yes-Rachael is fantastic young woman. I laughed last night when all 3 didn't know the word "defrost." It was one of the few answers I knew. So anxious to see her tonight.

I'll see if I can go ALL day today with swearing. Shouldn't be too hard considering this is not a campaign year.

Soooo....I remember in the 8th grade I somehow decided I could use the word "Horney". It sounded funny and even tho' I didn't know what it meant I wrote a short story with it in the title.
"Wearing horned rimmed glasses does not necessarily mean you are horney."
Yes the note went home to my folks and the call to come to the principal's office followed.
I've been careful ever since.
Just saying.
And now that I think about it... circles of cow horns to hold the glass in place makes perfect sense. The real meaning of horney is sexually aroused BTW.
In this world of frost free everything not too many of us remember defrosting anything. I still call it an ice box.

I use profanity selectively in private conversation. I have to be very careful when I'm lecturing lest I get excited and say something unfortunate in front of 300 students :) Mostly, though, I'm with William. The older I get, the more I want private matters to stay that way, and the more I want public manners and speech to remain polite. At the least, it helps us develop our vocabularies.

Friggin means female masturbation? You're friggin kiddin me, right? (I did not know that, seriously. But I know what a douche bag is, and I also knew defrost on Teen Jeopardy--a trick question for teenagers.)

I swear much more than I used to, but I still try to meet certain standards--not around kids, not around strangers, not around anyone I suspect will be offended. I patted myself on the back when my 16 year old nephew told me, after he overheard my colorful thoughts on a nettlesome phone conversation I had just ended, that he had never before heard me use the F word. It probably won't be 16 years before he hears me use the word again, but perhaps I can strive for that.

I too will strive to not swear at all today. I may need duct tape for my mouth . . . No, I don't swear that much especially at work where answering the phone is part of the job.
I find when I get tired my vocabulary starts to get blue and I don't like that.
I agree with William, et al, getting a bit prudish now, I don't know if it is an age thing or if it is the inundation of all things private on tv.
Loved watching Rachel on a roll last night, great win!

Amen, sister! We need just a bit more civility on all fronts . . .
and Rachel is totally awesome!

This reminds me of my son's first foray into profanity - in 3rd grade. There was a skirmish on the school grounds over a soccer game - it seems one of the boys kept picking up the ball and running with it. Marcus walked past him and muttered, "You f***." Not knowing what it meant, he was happy to repeat it to the teacher when the boy tattled.

At home, I explained, as much as I could, what it meant and why we didn't say it, then looked to my husband for his half of our parental two-cents. His admonition?

"Marcus, stop using words you don't understand."

Alrighty then.

Thought I would chime in since, and I'm afraid you won't like this, I am a frequent user of douche bag. It's kind of my cuss word of the moment, the one I can spit out as a descriptor, since I tend to talk faster than I think! However, I do know what it means, and have known what it means since before I started using it.

I wanted to point out the difference though between children and teens cussing and full grown adults cussing - teens (like that group of boys) and children (like Gayle's son) do it to get attention and shock people. Adults do it because in one word you can convey what could otherwise take a bunch of processing (F U comes to mind).

Now, people my age - early to mid-twenties - use it as a mixture of both.

And I definitely did need to explain the meaning of d-bag to a younger male friend of mine recently. He was more perplexed than shocked though!

The Cialus bathtubs blow my mind because I need to know where these are available..LOL
The logistics alone boggle my mind. First of all, you must find a resort to take advantage of these tubs. My home does not sit on a hilltop allowing me to sit in a tub and purvey the scenery. And getting in and out of the tub could be risky. The banter between the man and woman who are in the commercial is never revealed because they are trying to figure out how long they have to sit in the Cialus tub and hope their iphone is off.

My least favorite of the 'feminine hygiene' commercials these days has to do with "Mother Nature" showing up with her pretty 'pesent' tied in a bright red bow...yuck! (First of all, when did it become a 'present'?) And we don't need to know all of the options for freshenss either. And Viagra and Cialis? Please. If those are on the tube, why not Trojan too? And I don't need to know about your bladder problems, male or female, thank you. Especially at dinnertime!
Believe me, I'm still reeling about the words bastard and bitch being used on TV...I blame the soaps...as if no other word will work. And although I learned to 'tune out' the F word after seeing Saturday Night Fever (which left little dialogue but a lot of dancing), I don't even like to hear myself say it...and I do but not in public.
When I was growing up, saying the words "hell, damn, and God" in the same paragraph were enough to send you to the fiery furnaces (parochial school education). Now ten year olds are F'ing it up on buses, in stores, and lord knows where else. Whatever happened to heck and darn and geez?
PS Go Team Rachel! I have to miss the show but hopefully the VCR will work!

That should be 'present' and 'freshness'...my fingers are not awake yet!

Maryann, I am with you on those stupid Mother Nature commercials, present - yeah right.
It can be startling up here in Canada, CBC doesn't appear to have the same censors as other stations, can be watching a show and wham F bomb - really? At 8:30 in the evening.
Us Canadians are hard core!

One of my youngest daughter's favorite movies is "Snatch", in which Brad Pitt plays a ridiculously profane Gypsy who uses the "F" word at least once in every sentence he utters. And since most of what he says is impossible to understand that particular word stands out even more. We watched the movie once and counted every time they said it, and if I remember correctly the final count was somewhere between 150 and 190 times.

When I was in Florence, Italy in 2001 I was in a cybercafe, emailing home, surrounded by American high school and college spring breakers. All of whom were flinging that same word around as their favorite descriptive. I still cringe when I think about it, since I had been in Europe by then for a week and a half, trying my darnedest not to be an Ugly American. It's hopeless, I found myself thinking, as long as these kids are so f'ing clueless.

The Cialis bathtub is another cringeworthy deal. First, they are in the middle of a field, with no visible plumbing. And they are in separate tubs--how is that, in any way, romantic? All I feel when I see that commercial is cold. You know there's no hot water, and if there is it was hand carried out there in the middle of that silly field. So goofy.

Can't wait to see what happens next in the Rachel saga!

As if the commercials for human bodily functions weren't bad enough!
I just saw one for Pedigree dog food where the dog is saying how the food has made him better than a good pooper, now he's an optimal pooper!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday....every day!!!

I HATE that commercial (its bor Nuvoring or some such birthcontrol). But the worst is the Pepto Bismal commercials (I think they stopped the campaign cos it was so disgusting). they did a macarana type dance to a Pepto song: Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea...and the people hold their asses. ARGHHHHHH!

Oh, oh... (waving hands wildly) and what about "daily" Cialis?

Oh, honey. No.

I am watching Jeopardy, hanging onto the edge of my seat (and my laptop) for the last question.

Whatever happens in the next five minutes, Rachel, you are one helluva girl! It has been an honor and a privilege to watch you shine.

Kathy, thanks for keeping us up-to-date on Jeopardy this week. I have never seen so much grace and poise. Rachel saying it was harder AND MORE FUN competing than just watching -- words to live by! (and she should be set for college costs??)

KATHY!!!! I saw you guys on TV!!!

Heck, Mary, college costs are outrageous, as much as $50,000 a YEAR.

yay Rachel! yay #49 LOL

Congratulations, Rachel! You made Teen Jeopardy a joy to watch. Well Done!!!

NY Times covers this very subject today. Apparently douche is the new word, all over the tube these days.

Meanwhile I was in Vincent's pizza, the bar, and I made them switch from football to Jeopardy! If it had been the Steelers or Pitt I wouldn't have been able to budge myself or them, but it was a talk show about football. Rachel was great. Huge congratulations to her.

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