“This is where we blow stuff up.”
Jamie Hyneman — who, to be honest, did not actually use the word “stuff” —
Right. He used the word “shit”. The New York Times protected the world from that.
Nostrich found this gem the other day:
As a reminder of the stakes, several staff members have affixed over their work spaces a color photocopy of Paul McCartney pointing at the camera and the warning, “Don’t foul this up.” (Actually, only one of these posters says “foul,” where the employee, like an editor at a family newspaper, has taped it over the original word.)
This marvel of awkward writing obfuscates the actual text of the posters, which read, “Don’t fuck this up.”
Their full policy for profanity is explained here. But this explanation, in an article about “word-bombs” and containing the word “cuss” in the title, is more enlightening:
The New Yorker and this newspaper both address an educated readership, but the magazine prints the actual profanity, while The New York Times does not. And very rarely does the paper print those obvious, winking, letter-word stand-ins. As The Times’s two-page stylebook entry on obscenity says, “An article should not seem to be saying, ‘Look, I want to use this word but they won’t let me.’ “
We’re all civilized people here. We’ve heard it all. What are we trying to protect by not using swear words where appropriate?
The children? They know all of the swear words already. They learn most of them through occasional slip-ups by their parents. And when they get to school, they share knowledge with the other children and quickly learn the rest.
Granted, they may not know some of the lesser-used, more sexually-charged terms — and even if they know the words, they probably don’t know their detailed meaning except that they’re “bad words” and can be saved up and used for ammunition in playground arguments.
But I guarantee that your children have heard you say “fuck” at least once. You’ve definitely said “shit” within earshot, and they’re likely to be even more familiar with its more useful counterpart, “bullshit”. And, if they go to a Catholic school, they can probably tell you exactly where the Bible contains “ass” and “cock”.
So they know them. We know them. We know they know them. They sure know we know them. What’s the big deal?
Moreover, why is the artful dodge considered acceptable? We can tell, without a doubt, that Jamie Hyneman really said “blow shit up” and the Beatles Rock Band developers really hung posters that said “Don’t fuck this up”. So could any child capable of reading The New York Times. If everyone knows what they really mean, is that really any nicer, more civilized, or more pure at all than just reproducing these quotations faithfully?
Is there any question as to why the sequel to Meet The Parents, which frequently played on the joke that the main character’s last name was “Focker”, was called Meet The Fockers and was a tremendous hit among the same kinds of soft, pious, embarassed parents who won’t say “fucker” to save their lives but would laugh like crazy every time they said “Focker” in the movie and brag to their friends that they saw “Meet the… FOCKERS!” twice last weekend?
It just feels like, as a culture, we’re getting a bit too old for this sort of thing.