Welcome! I’d like to start off with a big thank you to anyone reading this who isn’t my professor, I know you’ve got lots of options to choose from and I’m glad you chose me. My name’s Danielle, now let’s get into it.
What I really want to get across for this first blog post is why I’m making this at all, or why I’ve decided to title the blog ‘Offensive Language’. It all stems from what I have been seeing in the media that I have been consuming lately. My general domain is YouTube, watching funny guys including, but not limited to, h3h3prductions, iDubbbzTV, and jacksfilms. I enjoy watching these creators and creators of their sort because they’ve been able to mix comedy and impropriety with scathing commentaries about the state of media. And though often enough the message of the videos they make is about being more media literate, they also push a lot of boundaries about what is and isn’t considered okay for certain people to say in the process.
I watched a video recently about a drama involving the word nigger and its use and (though I still do encourage you to watch the video yourself) I pulled a quote from it that I think is very important to what I’m trying to tie into this blog.
“No words are ‘off limits’; you’re allowed to be offended by the words and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t like that very much’… At the end of the day, everything’s a choice.” -iDubbbzTV
We all have choices over what we say and what we do. It is a choice to be offended by things people say and decide that that is not okay for them to say, and it is also a choice to say offensive things knowing they may offend the people who hear them. Understanding and acknowledging these choices evokes a more thought-involved discussion overall. Meaning, don’t go running around calling people faggots and then say ‘Well, you’re just CHOOSING to be angry.’ No. The person who does that A) won’t be making a whole lot of friends and B) will be brutally harmed.
It is all contextually based. No word is inherently bad, no matter how much history there is behind it. It’s always bad to use words in the wrong context, no matter what they are. Take the statement, “Nice beard.” for example. This could be a friend complimenting his buddy’s new facial hair. Maybe he’s usually clean shaven and decided to grow it out a bit, or he trimmed his already existing facial hair. Either way, this context means someone is complimenting someone else for the hair that they have grown on their face. It could also be someone making fun of a man for being gay and playing off the thought that the girlfriend that he is with is just for show. It’s almost as if those are completely different situations and the meaning of the statement would have to be determined by context clues (what we do every time we have even the smallest conversation with someone). Offensive words are not excluded from this process of contextualization.
But what does any of this actually mean? How does it tie into media as a whole? Why is some college student telling you that yes, bad words can be bad?
BECAUSE IT’S SO IMPORTANT! Who makes the call to bleep out certain words on the radio, sometimes making one song into one long beep tone? Who decides that the graffiti the news is covering needs to be blurred out, so that instead of a building covered in vandalism, the audience is seeing a plain wall? Who has the POWER to decide that art has parts that are not okay for you to see?
What is it that I am missing out on by seeing these censorships instead of the original content? I doubt there is any one word in a song that will make me not like it. I’ve never been listening to the radio and said, “I love this beat, and the lyrics are so catchy, I just love this- never mind he said the word foot. Now I hate this song and my entire day is ruined.” This isn’t a situation I’ve ever been in or ever see myself being in, and I doubt most people would have a reaction like this in their lives. (To any word at all, not just the word foot. Though you never know.) The only result in censoring what have been labelled “dirty” words is that I am now missing out on possibly part of the experience that the artist intended for me to have. It just doesn’t seem right.
In conclusion, when it comes to offensive language and imagery in media it’s a free-for-all. But it’s important to be able to understand that so that you, in turn, can stop and think about what you’ve seen and heard and how you intend to respond to it. If you don’t think something is okay, don’t follow suit in the same manner it was presented to you. If you think something you or someone else said was okay then use context and stick with your side. The only common variable: it has to be all or nothing.