Featured Column
Week of 3.15.2004
"What the $%#@ is on the
$%#@$* television, Margaret?"
Cussing ain't what it used to be
          Now, don’t get me wrong. I know all the dirty words (unless there’s been some new ones coined lately) and I’ve used them, but I’m old-fashioned enough not to use them in mixed company, with little kids or in front of my aunt Frances who would probably give me a good, hard slap if she heard me say even one of the milder ones.
          What I don’t understand is why there is such a ubiquitousness of cussing and swearing in public, on television and in the movies. I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I think of all the kids in the movie theater or at home watching television when it seems every line of dialogue sounds like: “What the %$&@$# did you say, you no good $#$%%$#@ . Now, move your $#@#% over here and keep your $#$%%$# mouth shut!” The foul-mouthed dialogue isn’t limited to crime shows, where, I presume the authors of the prattle are attempting to inject realism into the scenes, because they must believe that anyone who deals in crime and criminals must spout at least one curse-word in every sentence. The profanity appears in every show that can legally get away with it, namely HBO, other cable stations and the bulk of motion pictures.
           I’m a big “Sopranos” fan. I think it’s the best written, acted and directed show on television, but please, give me a respite from hearing every other word begin with the letter F. Is it necessary to fill the airwaves with such a steady stream of anathematizations. Keep it up and we won’t even know they’re dirty words; we’ll be so used to them.
          Yesterday I was in my local supermarket when I heard a husband talking to his wife, saying, “What the $%$#@ do we want with all that #$#@$&&%$ broccoli! You know I can’t stand the $%#@&% stuff!” Now, this guy wasn’t angry and I don’t think he was mad at this wife, he was just carrying on a “normal” conversation with her. He’s just in the habit of sprinkling swear words in every sentence. Maybe he’s seen too many episodes of “NYPD Blue.”
           The worst result of all the blue language is that we’re sanctioning it with our children. How could a child, growing up watching television, going to the movies and listening to their father talk to his mother in the supermarket not think that using gutter language is an acceptable part of communicating.
          I wonder if I went to the local grammar school and entered a third or fourth grade classroom would I hear a sweet-faced little boy answering his teacher’s question by saying, “What the %$#%$@ , I couldn’t do my $#%@#&% homework last night. I was watching the $%$#@#& TV and I fell %$%$#@#$ sound asleep.”
          I’d hate to hear the little guy’s prayer as he kneels at his bed and begins, “Now I lay me down to $%$@#$%$%$ sleep….”
          I think Tony Soprano and that Sipowicz guy on “NYPDBlue” would be just as compelling if they deleted a few F-words from the script.
           Once, when I was sixteen years old, I was playing catch with my dad in the street in front of our house when a hornet started buzzing around my head. I thought it was going to sting me and I started wildly waving my arms to shoo it away and I blurted out, “Oh, $#%#@#!!!” My dad calmly walked over to me and said, “Son, you don’t always talk that way, do you?”
          Maybe starting today more fathers will calmly walk over to their young sons and daughters and urge  them not to use gutter language.
          For years the record for using the F-word in a motion picture belonged to Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.” It was employed 212 times! Is that why so many people went to see that movie? 
          I’ll tell you what my wise old grandmother would say about anyone she heard using dirty language, “Their mouths should be washed out with soap!”
          The question today is, who’s going to wash out whose mouth. Seems like everyone is doing it – and wait until our kids have kids.
          We’d better start stocking more soap!
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger