Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seven More Words You Can't Say?

Colt .45.

Apparently George Carlin's famous list is in need of some additions. At least, that's the only conclusion I can come to after hearing the great track "What It's Like" (NSFW, evidently…) by Everlast on the radio recently.* In an absurdly Kimmel-esque barrage of hyper-censorship, we're left hearing lines like this:

"…Late one night there was a big […] fight and Max lost his head
Pulled out his […] talked some […] and wound up dead…"
Now, granted, the third of these ellipses is a fairly universally-recognized profanity prohibited on TV/radio. My problem with this is that such extreme redaction serves to elevate perfectly innocuous words (in this case "gun" and "Colt .45") to the same profane status as Carlin's dirty seven. While I suppose I can understand the desire to avoid glorifying the use of firearms in pop culture, whoever came up with this particular censorship regimen clearly wasn't listening to the broader context, because the whole point of this verse is a lament about the violence inherent in the drug-selling environment. In another (even more absurd) excerpt, we hear:
"…I licked the silver spoon, drank from the golden cup, […] the finest […]…"
Really? "Smoked the finest green" has the same profane status as "fucking" and "shit" also bleeped from the song? What a crock! The phrase is already a pretty tame euphemism for "consuming cannabis," itself a fairly inoffensive locution, IMHO.

Why does this matter? I suppose it doesn't, in the grand scheme of things. Still, it bothers me every time I hear it, especially given the particularly myopic censorship of this song, the message of which is related to not passing judgment on others. Practically, I'm also currently struggling with instilling a proper respect for the power of language in my pre-schooler, as his vocabulary expands exponentially. Sure, I don't want him dropping the F-bomb for at least another couple of years, but I fear that our limiting his use of terms like "stupid" and "hit you" will "profanitise" these terms in his young mind. Unlike Everlast's censors, I hope I can find a better line in the sand to teach him the appropriate respect for the power of the spoken word.

*Okay, actually this has bothered me for years, and I'm only now getting around to venting about it.

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