WTF?

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Wal-Mart for allowing thirteen-year-olds across Maryland to hear a dirty word. Turns out that the Evanescence CD has a cover of Korn’s “Thoughtless,” which contains the lyric “Why are you trying to make fun of me? You think it’s funny? What the fuck do you think it’s doing to me?”

The problem was not the “f-bomb,” but the fact that the album lacked a parental advisory label. If it had such a sticker, of course, Wal-Mart would not have stocked the item.

If thine ears were offended, the suit contends, you and your spawn ought to receive $75,000 in compensation. That works out to just over $16,000 a letter.

Almost as absurd as the idea of a thirteen-year-old anywhere inside of Pluto having been untouched by the second most vile word in American English, is watching American newspapers’ and magazines’ fetishistic attempt circumscribe (so to speak) the word. The Rolling Stone seems to be the only mainstream outlet to actually make use of the word. This at the same time that the Guardian argues that “fuck” isn’t really a “bad word” any more. Burnside would agree:

Looked at solely as a lexical unit, “fuck” is a very good, sturdy, versatile, and descriptive word. If our social masters could reconcile themselves to the idea that sex is a legitimate part of human existence and is here to stay, it may be that “fuck” will eventually be accepted in polite use.

I doubt Wal-Mart is likely to agree. And since they are increasingly the only place that young Americans are exposed to ideas (you know, besides TV), it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a while.

Update (12/15): And since I’ve already put myself on the blacklist of every piece of Nannyware out there, I highly suggest you watch this promo for Channel 4 (which I must have blogged at some point with everyone else) with the volume up nice and loud. This was originally meant to be played in theaters before the movie Kill Bill, but the theater association nixed it–so it showed up on TV after 10pm.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted 12/14/2004 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a somewhat comical illustration of Burnside’s point… (I’m not sure where I got this):

    Unfortunately, I’ll only be able to keep this up for about a week.

  2. Posted 12/14/2004 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm… well that link doesn’t seem to be displaying. It is here: http://pobox.com/~joehall/temp/fuck.mp3

  3. Posted 12/15/2004 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Second most vile?

  4. Posted 12/15/2004 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Wish I had blogged about this first.

    First of all, Wal-Mart is a joke and should be boycotted for their inconsistancy. Under some stupid blanket mission of appealing to “Christians” they censor their music but not their movies. They are fussy about magazine covers but carry the largest “romanance” section of any store of their kind. As far as I know they don’t edit the video games either.

    Other hypocracies from the “Christian-appealing” store? They pay women less, they take out life insurance on the elderly employees, the stores are not clean in appearance at all–in fact they have a reputation for if you take too many showers, you can’t shop there. The staff is less than knowledgeable or helpful.

    Lastly, these parents are SO STUPID. If the couple who started this stupid suit thinks their daughter has never heard the F-word, let alone use it, they live in a sheltered world. That language is rampart in public schools. I’m sure I said fuck at the age of 13…I could just go on and on about this entire situation…

  5. Posted 12/15/2004 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, and what is the world of free speech coming to when a department store can edit our music, and we need a parental advisory label for one “bad” word. And geez, pay attention to what your kids are doing if you want such tight reins on them. My dad watched MTV when we were kids…on his own!

  6. Posted 12/15/2004 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Dave: I deliberately left this an open signifier, since it differs by the person. The two that I suspect make the top of many people’s list would be “cunt” and “nigger.” Words are words, and all that, but in many (not all) contexts, these two can be particularly hurtful, while “fuck” seems to be a “bad word” largely by convention, rather than anything else.

    If you look over the Guardian article, it claims most Brits are fine with the use of “fuck” on television, but less fine with words like “Paki” and other racial slurs.

One Trackback

  1. […] eriously problem with this whole issue. To me, the root of this, as is the root with other censorship type issues is that too many parents aren’t doing their jobs in the first place. I […]

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