Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The vulgar ye will always have with you

If you go here, you will find a bizarre Frank Rich op-ed in the NY Times, in which he lauds dirty jokes and obscenity. His point seems to be that vulgarity is a great part of American history and that the right -- specifically Lynne Cheney -- should be ashamed of itself for trying to raise standards. My goodness! It's un-American not to swear. I will agree with Rich that vulgarity is a part of every culture. Where he and I part ways is my belief that every civilized culture has ultimately decided that vulgarity should be part of the substratum of society, and not be the society's dominant note. That is, I'm not denying the rich strand of dirt in American popular culture, I'm just wondering where the virtue is in celebrating it, instead of trying to rise above it. Or, to put it another way, and here I'm thinking of the fact that on cable you get the benefit of swear words, is a joke that asks, "Why did the f***ing chicken cross the f***ing road" really funnier, more dynamic, or more culturally aware than just asking "Why did the chicken cross the road," and then following that question with a punchline funny on its merits? I mean, really, aren't we past the 4 year old stage where the mere use of a potty word is funny, without any other content? (By the way, if you want funny answers to the chicken question, check this out.) It seems to me we've reached a peculiar cultural turning point when the self-proclaimed paper of record demands that we sink to one of the lowest common denominators of human communication, instead of striving for something better and higher. I know I sound Victorian, but it seems to be a culture with high aspirations, even if it doesn't achieve its stated ends, is going to be better off than a culture that just willingly sinks to the bottom.