Today, even Carlin would be shocked to see how those words are now spoken out frequently, especially in cable TV dramas and theater movies. For example, whenever President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gets angry on HBO’S “Veep,” she snarls many of them with great dramatic gusto.
Other examples are updated versions of classic movies I’ve seen recently on cable TV. For we elderly TV watchers who don’t go to movie theaters often these days, the profane language shocks. Classics now with graphic cursing include “Casino” (1995), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987), “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) and “Taxi Driver” (1976). Their latest showings contain some, if not all, of Carlin’s forbidden words.
Obviously when they were first filmed, there were at least two spoken sound tracks made. I realize now that 20 to 40 years ago, producers had to follow censorship rules of the time. However, they also anticipated the day when the then-forbidden curse words would be no longer censored. And that day certainly has arrived!
Now that the flood gates are open, this elderly writer (geezer, cripple, old codger, lame-ass, crappy klutz, senile kike, old fart) suggests seven more equally offensive words, this time about ethnicity. Will they soon be freely spewed out on screens, too?
Kike: The word originated more a century ago on Ellis Island, New York, when illiterate Jewish refugees from Czarist Russia refused to sign immigrant forms with an X, a Christian symbol. Instead, their signatures were an O, translated from Yiddish as kikel.
Wop: The snide name-calling word originated from the Italian guappo, meaning gangster. If you want to curse out a wop, just be sure you don’t utter the word in the face of a latter-day Al Capone or Lucky Luciano.
Chink: It started in the late 1800s when the cross-country railroads were being built. Thousands of imported Chinese laborers earned pennies a day to do the heavy work white Americans wouldn’t do. The word was again used in American combat messages during the 1950s Korean War as ChiNk, meaning Chinese and North Korean combined enemy forces.
Beaner: It insults Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, because their sphincter-exploding, gaseous diets include many varieties of potent beans. Just a few are pinto, bayos gordo, vaquita roja, moro, flor de mayo, garbanzo and sangre de toro (bull blood).
Honky: It’s an insulting term for Caucasians, expressed on TV in the 1970s sitcom, “All In The Family.” A quote from bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor): “George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) is the only black guy I know who calls Abe Lincoln a honky.”
Redskin: Who remembers the 1930s Saturday matinee cowboy and Indian movies with Hoot Gibson, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry? Does the oft-used phrase, “another redskin bites the dust”, sound familiar? Additionally, the Washington Redskins football team recently lost a legal battle to keep the logo. How about naming them after the wimpy Congress, the Washington Thinskins?
Nigger: Currently considered the most offensive, it derives from the Niger River area of Africa. That’s where many black Africans were captured in the 18th and 19th centuries and shipped to North America as slaves to do the work white guys refused to do. The word is still unacceptable, unless spoken onstage by a hip African-American stand-up comedian waving a burning Confederate flag.
Conclusion: George Carlin was a pioneer in taking the stigma out of formerly forbidden words. Gotta love that friggin’ boozing hophead shanty Irish mick!