Cultural Revolutions

Franky, Ma'am

You know someone is old enough to remember, let’s say, the Kennedy assassination when he shudders as some lout on TV giggles out a laugh-line that substitutes ass for the body part known in quainter times as the derrière or the behind.  Without a beg-your-pardon, ma’am.

It’s a wonderful new age, to be sure—one marked by seemingly total freedom and latitude for expression.  All those bluenosed inhibitions we used to feel about words we weren’t supposed to utter in polite company—gone!  As, I guess, may be the case also with polite company.  Why be polite if no one understands you’re being polite when you scrub and perfume your manner of expression?  Says a New York Times headline from late spring: “Bleep or No Bleep, Bolder Words Blow In.”  The substance of the story is that advertisers feel super-motivated to engage us customers.  To compliment us all, whatever our chronologies, as if we all sported tattoos and 28-inch waistlines.

“Ads for Ford trucks, Keystone light beer and Summer’s Eve feminine hygiene products,” the Times’ story says, “use colloquial expression for manliness that are focused on the testicles.  A nickname for that body part, along with another essential element of a man, is repeated in video clips for a body groomer sold under the Wilkinson Sword Quattro Titanium brand...

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