I hate the word fuck. It also happens to be one of my favorite words. Whether I love it or hate it, depends on how it’s used. It is my humble opinion that it is used far too often.
A Touch of History
It’s been interesting watching the progression of swear words on TV over the years. As a kid growing up on shows like The Brady Bunch and Bewitched, you’d be hard pressed to find a hell or a damn anywhere on television. That is until 1971 when All In The Family hit the airwaves. Not only did Archie Bunker say goddamn, but he said it a lot. I can’t say he was the first, but certainly no other character said it as often or with as much gusto. Beyond that, things didn’t change much for a while. Oh sure, you’d hear a shit or a fuck now and then, but they were slip-ups on live television and sometimes resulted in a hefty fine.
Today we have cable to muddy the waters. For the most part, basic cable channels, such as MTV, Lifetime, and TNT have been held to the same standards as the broadcast networks. The heavy-duty curse words have been reserved for premium channels like HBO, Showtime and STARZ. That has changed. Fuck is still pretty much off-limits, but watch The Walking Dead, on basic channel AMC, and you’ll hear them say shit like it’s going out of style. I don’t expect it to be long before we hear it on the broadcast networks. Sorry to say, I don’t think that’s a good thing. We need dirty words. They serve an important function. If you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer, nothing feels better than yelling, “Oh fuck!” But if we continue this path of saying fuck on a regular basis, it’ll become as innocuous as saying “Golly jeepers.”
I was excited when I stumbled upon a study that backs up what I’ve been saying for years. Yes, I love to gloat when I’m right.
In 2011 Keele University, in Staffordshire England, posted a study on swearing and its effects on pain. What they learned was that swearing “can produce effective short-term pain relief, the effect is much greater for people who do not swear regularly in day-to-day life.” In other words, if you accidently hit your thumb with a hammer, yelling “Oh fuck!” does help to ease the pain, but only if you don’t use a high level of swear words. Unfortunately, they don’t define, for us, what a high level is.
I hate to be one of those “back in my day” fellas, but back in my day a teenager only swore out loud when around other teens. Today it’s out of hand. Every other word is a shit, goddamn or fuck. I think it’s probably too late to save them. Those words have too much common usage which negates any positive effects it had before. I don’t know what they’ll do in the future. Maybe come up with their own taboo words? Maybe it’s time to go back to “Golly jeepers.”
What are your thoughts?