A bar of soap please

Silly movies. Really silly movies. I have been watching some of the most vapid, silly, brainless movies ever made. Sure, they’re fun. Some of them have some scenes that are side-splitting hilarious. But while watching “The Hangover” I notice something that has become pervasive in today’s media. Vulgarity has become more than expected in all things, it has become required.

There has not been 5 minutes in this movie that did not have the “F” word.

Now, I have spent 9 years in the service of my Uncle Sam, and in that time I have heard my share of colorful euphemisms. I have used almost all of them myself in my youth and I may have even invented a few of my own. But as I have matured, one thing my eighth-grade English teacher told me has been ringing true: Cussing is a sign of a weak vocabulary.

Anything that needs to be said can be said without using words deemed vulgar by polite society. Words are words, and they serve as the building blocks of language. Without them, communication becomes exceptionally difficult. Once a person has command of a language, many things become possible that before were not. The meanings of words are a true social construct. Those words only hold meaning to people who understand the common use. If you say “Apple” to someone who does not speak English, it means nothing to him or her. But say it to someone who understands the language and they may become hungry (and if you want me hungry, say “steak”).

So that brings us to the “F” bomb. It was featured prominently on George Carlin’s famous list. He loved saying it. Many comedians have made lots of money saying it. It has become a verb, a noun and an adjective and an adverb. And it offends many people.

I attended a Nickelback concert a while back and it featured two other bands as opening acts. Without exception, all the lead singers said that word several times at every song break. It actually became bothersome to me to continually hear it being said. Not because I am personally offended by the word itself, but rather because it was being so overused and that being done in the presence of impressionable youth who could be and should be learning more socially acceptable and effective ways of communicating.

I am no prude. I am not the best role model for acceptable behavior (though I try). But having learned the errors of my youth, I try now to correct them and behave in a more genteel fashion. I wish more young people would learn how, since the politeness of prior generations is almost non-existent these days.

Once was a time when a gentleman never swore in public and never in the presence of a lady. Once was a time when entertainment was wholesome and actually was uplifting. Once was a time when young men pulled a lady’s chair out for her and opened doors for her. My parents modeled that behavior for me, and it took far too long for me to actually assimilate it into my routine.

I see no young men doing it these days. Not once.

Is it because they have such a poor vocabulary? Are they not being taught the language to properly and effectively speak without using vulgarity? Or is it the only behavior they have modeled for them comes from silly movies like “The Hangover” or “Step Brothers?” Is it because their popular idols can’t speak a sentence without using vulgar language? I would tend to think so, and I find it sad and a bit depressing.

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