Friday, November 14, 2003

Taking The Queen's English Out Back for a Spanking



Margaret Cho responds to a letter from an audience member who was offended at her use of expletives at her show at the University of Texas in Dallas.


I understand that you may have a lot of anger built up inside about the world and what it has become. I even think it's a good idea to point these things out, poke fun at them and have a good laugh. I mean you're right; the Terminator is governor of California. But why add to the already vulgar world we live in? If you're so much against all these bad things why not make fun of them in a clean way? To me, you have less credibility when you use such offensive language. Many of the students that will one day make a difference and perhaps create a "revolution" for the better are not the ones that cuss and use vulgar language.


Yes, that's what is really wrong with the world today. It's not the infinite corruption infesting the White House, the dubious wars fought for God and oil or the disperate devide between the haves and the have nots, it's a commedian that decides to talk like a real person, instead of a fifties sit com character. The ghost of June Cleaver, inhabitting the body of an eighteen year old college student lamments, "But if only Miss Cho would keep it Family Friendly, then maybe all the world's problems would just shrivel up and blow away!" Right. And if Osama Bin Laden would only get himself baptized, there'd be no more terrorists. This disgusted Undergrad mentions how the offended had to cover their ears and quietly leave the auditorium. She goes on to say that there are even college students who don't know what the word "pussy" means. Margaret's response:


I appreciate your fucking righteous attitude and thank you for being so fucking honest. I really think that it is weird that pussy is something that kids don't know. What do they call the vagina then? Or would they rather pussy just didn't exist?


First off, I find it hard to believe that there is anyone outside of Amish country that doesn't know what the word "pussy" means in all its beautiful, nasty, and multipurpose connotations. I've been to Texas. They are some pussy loving motherfuckers down there. If you think a sailor's vocabulary could peel paint, you should go to Austin and get yourself educated in the art of the swear word. Now maybe out on the Farm in Poteet or New Brunfals this sheltered little Undergrad might not hear the Queen's English getting worked over like Jenna Jameson in a hot tub but she'd still have to hear that awful nasally twang.

And as a writer, no word is off limits. Words are our tools and sometimes you need a rusty screwdriver instead of a shiny little wrench. I've been all through this with my mother, who is a third grade school teacher and wishes my prose wouldn't conceal the occasional blinding rosy red fuck. Now certainly, Mom shouldn't tolerate a nine year old swaggering around spitting out "Goddamn!" and "Shit!" and "Suck my dick!", but for adults, especially ones who make a living (or dream one day of making a living) describing the world in purple prose, their can be no off limit words just because your grandmother or some sheltered nitwit in Texas with a pristine ear and unsullied mind might want to cover her ears and think about kittens whenever someone says the word "pussy."

Now, I generally do keep the cuss words to a minimum but not out of a desire to beautify the world with my hygienic prose. I'm more subversive than that. I keep the cussing to a minimum so that when I do whip out the four letter word, it shines like a lighthouse on the page, confronting the reader with all the preconceptions of that word and its context. But that's simply a stylistic choice, one I typically reserve for my longer works. Here on the blog though, it's a different story. I roll up my sleeves and get dirty from time to time. Fuck anyone who thinks it should be otherwise.

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