Curse Words, Here We Come!
So I took all your thoughts yesterday and sat on them at night like a mother bird warming her eggs. Little thought eggs. Why am I so squeamish about curse words in front of the kids? I’m not squeamish when they come to me with a curse word, asking what it means, but I am squeamish about the idea of presenting them with words: saying them myself or providing them in art.
But still, I don’t want to make those words taboo, so I decided to broach the topic with the twins before bed. After a long discussion of why there are things that are appropriate in art that aren’t appropriate in the face-to-face world (person stripping in front of you = inappropriate; nudes at the Tate = art) and how people use cursing in songs, I asked them how they would feel if we stopped muting out the curse words and just played the songs as is.
The ChickieNob (of course) raised two interesting questions, neither of which I could answer well in the moment.
1. I am telling them not to use curse words they hear in the songs in school, but the ChickieNob wants to know how she will know what is a curse word and what is simply an unfamiliar word. She was very concerned about this; that she would inadvertently use a curse word, even in an innocent manner such as asking someone what the word means. The example she gave was “Gangnam Style.” She said that kids were reprimanded at school for using the term “sexy.” It’s a word in the song so they all know it, but the ChickieNob wasn’t aware until kids got in trouble that it would be an inappropriate word to use. It didn’t occur to her that she shouldn’t use it; she simply hasn’t used it yet because she didn’t know what the word meant or how to place it in a sentence.
2. What about words I find repugnant — would I still mute those or would I allow them to play? There are two occurrence of this that I can think of in Green Day songs in particular. The first is “retarded” used in a derogatory manner. I’ve always muted that because I don’t want it said around me. Certainly not a curse word, but a word used in a repugnant manner. The other is “fag.” It’s used self-descriptively: the singer is using it to highlight what he has been called in the past (vs. using the term towards another person in a derogatory manner) but it’s a word that I don’t want around me. That I think of as a hateful term even when it’s used tongue-in-cheek. Interestingly, the ChickieNob asked if I would still mute those since she knows that there are times that I’m muting not because it’s a curse word but because it’s a hate word. So do I continue to mute those? Or do I allow everything to be heard?
See, good questions.