Positive Cynicism – Who fucking cares about the “F-bomb”?

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

By now you may have heard that new cast member Jenny Slate accidentally said the word “fucking” in her very first Saturday Night Live.

One of the more immediately ridiculous aspects of American culture is our fear of the power of mere words. Sure, we like to boast about how brave we are as a nation, but the mere utterance of the word “fuck” on television sends a cold fear through society that’s usually reserved for health scares, terror alerts and talk of a new Uwe Boll movie. And not only is it hilarious, it’s also completely hypocritical.

Honestly, how shocked are we by the word “fuck”? I’d say not very much. We’ve all heard it. We’ve all used it – hell, I use it in front of my mother. We heard our parents say it when we were kids. The only shock to the word now is hearing it out of context, like, in this case, on late night television. And even then, why does anyone care? Everyone’s heard it. Why do we still pretend that it’s offensive – and worse, dangerous?

I think it’s worth pointing out that Slate’s slip of the tongue came in the middle of a sketch called “Biker Chick Talk” or something, in which the word “frickin’” was being tossed around. So it’s not like she screamed it at a bunch of kindergarteners, or anything; she simply slipped and used the actual word instead of the word that was being used as a substitute for it. That alone makes the mini-fervor over her mistake doubly annoying.

Yes, how dare Jenny Slate say “fuckin’” instead of a euphemism that’s being used as a stand-in for the word, anyway? If this were really a forbidden word that caused the brain of any child to melt upon hearing it, we wouldn’t be able to use words like “freaking,” “fricking” and “effing” that are clearly meant to be the same word on television, would we? You think kids don’t know what your clever ruse is hiding?

And for that matter, what kid is up watching Saturday Night Live at 12:40 AM Eastern? When I was a young and impressionable kid, I wasn’t even allowed to watch SNL because it was “too grown-up” (and check any of the other sketches that aired this weekend, like the bit with the naked Transformer or Kenan Thompson simulating sexual positions with Megan Fox). Any kid watching the show at that point probably has parents who don’t care if their kid hears a swear word. It’s not like kids don’t hear it on the playground or from their angry parents, anyway.

It’s worth pointing out that the FCC probably isn’t going to fine SNL because the slip occurred so far outside of prime time. It’s also worth pointing out that the word “fuck” is permitted on the air in Canada during overnight hours. So once again, we’re behind the rest of the world in our supposed sophistication. As if it weren’t ridiculous enough to see grown adults reporting on this story using silly euphemisms like “F-bomb” and “the F word,” apparently with straight faces. Just typing those terms right now made me feel infantile.

It’s also worth pointing out that I heard the words “penis slot” used as a noun on SNL. I wasn’t offended by it, but it was a grosser use of the English language.

And it’s even worth pointing out this list of 10 other occasions when this has happened on SNL. It’s not even a new moment of shock, assuming you’re one of the ten people left who really think it’s shocking.

I think if people want to focus on the real problem with Saturday Night Live’s 35th season premiere, it’s that it was thuddingly unfunny. Like, even for Saturday Night Live it was unfunny. That “Biker Chick” sketch was painful, and Slate’s mistake was the only exciting moment in the whole thing. The overrated and odious Megan Fox (who just proved with Jennifer’s Body that she can’t open a movie on her own) didn’t do anything funny, terrified of moving away from the “generic hot chick” comfort zone. Tired old-hat musical “stalwarts” U2 wheezed anciently around the stage, bringing to mind all of those old jokes about how the Rolling Stones are too old to keep on touring. Nothing funny happened; Jenny Slate should be thanked for providing the only moment of real energy.

Lorne Michaels has said that he’s not going to punish Slate for her mistake; that “the pain that Jenny is going through is, I’m sure, considerably worse than that experienced by anybody who saw it.” But really, didn’t she do her career a huge favor? She’s brand new to Saturday Night Live, and she just immortalized herself as “the new girl who accidentally swore.” She’s already got an identity and recognition with the audience. Instead of languishing in the background for a year like most new cast members, she’s made her name already.

Jenny Slate makes her name, Saturday Night Live gets in the news for more than just a terrible premiere and op-ed pundits like me get another opportunity to expound on our hatred for the seemingly arbitrary rules of society that only exist to instill inside us a deep and crippling fear of who we actually are.

Everybody wins!

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

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Comments(6)
  1. Courtney September 29, 2009
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