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Thursday, February 02, 2012

$#*! other people say, but usually not me!

Have you ever heard of a television sitcom called ‘$#*! My Dad Says’?

It’s okay if you haven’t.  It was one of those blink and you’ll miss it type shows that was here one minute, and gone the next.  Although, given that it was a more recent creation, I suppose that it would be fresher in the minds of most people than say ‘Cop Rock’, ‘Women Of The House’, ‘My Mother The Car’, and ‘Free Spirit’.
The sitcom aired on CBS from September 23, 2010 to February 17, 2011.  It starred William Shatner as Dr. Edison Milford Goodson III, a septuagenarian father of two adult boys who is prone to opinionated rants and politically incorrect opinions.  The sitcom was loosely based off the Twitter feeds of Justin Halpern, under the name of $#*! My Dad Says (where the first word is NOT censored – I’m just censoring it because it’s related to today’s Thursday confession).  On the Twitter feed, Justin would often post quotes by his father, Sam, whom William Shatner’s character was loosely based on, and it quickly became an account that had a lot of followers.

The feed became so popular that plans to turn it into a sitcom began in November 2009.  The pilot episode was written by Halpern and Patrick Schumacker, and Shatner was cast in the main role just three months later, in February 2010.  The series would be picked up by CBS in May 2010, and the first episode aired that September.
Of course, due to FCC regulations, the original title couldn’t exactly be used.  So, the decision was made to use symbols to disguise the first word of the series, and the series would then be referred to as ‘BLEEP My Dad Says’.  Halpern’s own Twitter feeds were modified in the show scripts, as they too were considered to be too vulgar to air on screen.

Somehow, the transition from Twitter to television did not work out as well as everyone had expected.  Despite a promising start with a 12 million viewing audience for the show’s first episode, by episode three, the audience decreased as much as 25%.  The show managed to last for eighteen episodes before being put on hiatus, and in May 2011, that hiatus became permanent.
I can’t really say much about the show itself, because I never watched it.  I can’t say that I’m really the biggest William Shatner fan, to be completely honest.

(And, no, that’s not the Thursday Confession.)
But, the show’s title sort of alludes to the real idea of what I want to confess for this edition of the Thursday Confession.

And, here’s my confession.

THURSDAY CONFESSION #5:  I very rarely swear, and will try everything possible to avoid using swear words, even if it means that I sound like Ned Flanders from The Simpsons as a result.
Hence the idea of me censoring my swear words in this entry.

That’s not to say that I NEVER swear myself.  There are some instances in which I can’t help but swear.  If I am extremely angry and passionate about something, the last thing that I think about is censoring my thoughts and language.  I think I actually might have dropped a swear word or two in last week’s confession, come to think of it.  But, that’s a rarity, and something that I don’t typically do.

Let's put it this way.  If I had a swear jar, it'd probably be filled with more cobwebs than quarters.
But, if I smash my thumb with a hammer, or stub a toe, and you’re near me, you best plug your ears if you get offended by four-letter words, because I don’t mince words when I am in any sort of physical pain. 

For the most part though, I don’t really enjoy dropping swear words all that much.  I understand that a lot of people do, and that’s fine, but I prefer not to.  And, yes, I’ll get to that in a little bit.

I will say that as far as the actual words themselves go, they don’t particularly offend me all that much.  I mean, once you heard one naughty word, you’ve heard them all.
But while I don’t get offended very easily, there are a lot of people out there who do take offence.  During the early stages of planning for ‘$#*! My Dad Says’, the show’s title was announced in a press conference on May 19, 2010, as well as the 8:30 time slot it would be occupying.  Sounds good, right?

Not so for some parents groups.
Despite assurances from CBS that the profanity in the title would be bleeped out, and that the expletive would not be used in promos, some groups didn’t feel that it was enough.  The Parents Television Council, in particular, protested the name of the show, simply because it alluded to an obscenity.  They actually threatened CBS with broadcast license challenges towards any affiliate airing the show or its promos before 10pm.  This is despite the fact that CBS assured that the show’s title would be bleeped out, and that the show would still adhere to CBS standards.  William Shatner himself didn’t see what the big deal was, and the general consensus was that it was all blown out of proportion.

And in the long run, it didn’t really matter, as the show was cancelled within a year for its poor quality, and not the name with the first word that shall not be said.
I certainly don’t agree with the decision made by the Parents Television Council.  Maybe my opinion about them might not mean a lot, since I am not a parent, but I would think that if I did have children, I would have enough common sense to know what sorts of programming would and would not be appropriate for them to watch.  I grew up in a household where salty language was just a part of daily life.  Was it inappropriate?  It really depended on the context and the situation.  But, for the most part, I think my family can control it.

Well, okay, maybe my father has difficulty at times.  Sometimes, I think the spirit of George Carlin inhabits my father’s soul.  But, that’s just the way he is, and I learned to overlook that part of him years ago.
So, hearing people swear doesn’t really bother me at all, at least not in the context in which they are said.  So, why have I decided not to swear myself?

It’s simple.  I just don’t want to.
Truth be told, I actually find that I get more satisfaction by substituting euphemisms for swear words.  And, I’m not just talking about standard ones such as substituting fudge for...well, you know.

Here’s another minor confession for all of you in relation to my bigger confession.  I substitute British slang, random objects and nonsensical gibberish in place of swear words.  Here’s a few examples of statements that I have said in the past to illustrate what I mean.

‘Son of a batch of cookies!’

‘I can’t believe I slammed my finger in the fluffernutter door!’

‘Holy Shadenfreude!’

‘Why don’t you shut the bloody door, you useless tit!’

(Well, all right...that last phrase is pushing it.)

But, do you not see what I mean?  It sounds so much funnier and more hilarious.  More importantly, it’s so unexpected.  You almost expect someone to let out a swear word in the situation, and then when you don’t, it takes you by surprise, doesn’t it?  Or, maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, and I'm just being a useless tit about the whole thing?  Who can say?  J
For the longest time, I think that I’ve done this.  And, contrary to what people have said about me being sensitive and delicate towards swear words, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

I think having grown up in a household where hearing everyone else in the family dropping swear words left and right sort of made me not want to be the same.  To be honest, I think that my NOT dropping random swear words all over the place was kind of like my way of rebelling against those in my immediate family.  I know it sounds like I’m a bit off my rocker, but looking back on my childhood, I can’t come up with a more reasonable explanation.
And, then when I got to high school, where almost every other word in the school hallways were laced with profanity, I think that also influenced my decision not to randomly drop F-bombs.  Because, the more swear words that I heard coming out of people’s mouths, the less impact they really had.

Think about it.  In a standard R-rated picture, the movie lasts about two hours, and in those two hours, you’ll likely hear anywhere from twenty-five to two hundred swear words...maybe even more than that depending on what kind of movie it is.  Some of them might be relevant to the scene.  Some might not be.  But, within a two hour time period, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. 
Now, you take being in a school for seven hours, and hearing high school students say the same amount of swears per hour, and eventually, it starts to get incredibly annoying! 

I get that when kids are in high school, uttering swear words is almost a rite of passage, and that a lot of them say those words in the school hallways because they may not be allowed to say them in their own homes.  But when every second word that comes out of a person’s mouth is a foul word, I’ll be completely honest, I get more bored than offended by it.  It’s one thing if one or two people are doing it.  But when EVERYONE does it, it gets to be real old, real fast.
I attended such a school where EVERYONE did it.  And it got real old, real fast.

I guess the attitude that I have towards swearing is that when it comes to having conversations with others, I admit that I have a hard time keeping a conversation going with someone when the other person is dropping an F-bomb every second word in their speech.  Not that I know a lot of people who are that coarse, but I do admit if I did, I really don’t know what my level of comfort would be.  Would I get offended?  Absolutely not.  But is it hard to follow?  I find it so, yes.  It would be one thing entirely if one or two words were uttered, but if I was in a conversation where half of it would be bleeped out, I suspect that I would feel some discomfort, especially if it were our first meeting.
(Though I also imagine that once I get to know them, I’d find myself getting annoyed less and less.  Well, unless some of that profanity was directed AT me, that is.)

I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I appreciate and admire someone who can choose their words and who can carry on a conversation without using cuss words as a last resort.  And, in general on a personal level, I find that I’m more relaxed having conversations with people where F-bombs are limited. 

Of course, if they smash their thumb or get into a passionate argument over something, well...that’s a different story.  J

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