Charter Member of the Sub-Media

March 02, 2005

Turning It Off « GWOM »

Appropriateness is one of the aspects we are arguing here. And Social Environment.

Like it or not, we are society of a great diversity. Although a limited and immature viewpoint might think so, we aren't just composed of 22-year-old males who like scatalogical humor. There are children around all the time. We all have mothers, and Great Aunt Sadies. Religious folk rub elbows with atheists.

One of the most necessary social skills is to know when to "Turn it off". I love humor. I've got a ton of jokes that I love. I sometimes enjoy dirty jokes. I do enjoy a racy movie. I admit it: I like boobies.

But the context is of utmost importance. The military environment in which I work places a high emphasis on self-control and professionalism. But if you are always formal, you suffer from a lack of esprit-de-corps. One of the things I've learned long ago is to know when you can relax and be "people", and when you need to stand on formality. I know who I can tease, and who I can't. When I'm speaking to a superior officer, you will always hear proper addresses of respect coming out of my mouth. But when I'm with my own subordinates, the working situation is much closer, and I allow them to relax quite a bit. I don't allow them to call me by my first name, no, but they can joke around and even tease me.

But if another officer is around, or another enlisted, I demand that they tighten up and show me proper respect and courtesies and such. It's not that I deserve it, or need my ego fed, but the military lives and dies on its formality, and ability to follow the proper customs. That's how you can order men to charge the machine-gun nest, and they'll do it, even knowing that most of them will die.

Please note: I set the standard with my subordinates. My superiors set the standard with me. When the superiors are around, their standard is default over mine.

It should be the same way with profanity/obscenity/sexuality. If someone lives their lives watching TV shows with F-bombs when they aren't necessary to the storyline, what language might they use when they get irritated with the salesperson at Target?

When my daughter belches loudly, I don't spank her, of course. But I remind her that she should try to do it quietly, and say "excuse me" if she can't or makes a mistake. But if the TV show or movie has belches and farts as humor, it makes it that much harder to teach her proper manners.

When someone steeps themself in profantiy and obscenity, they begin to think that's the default. When there are no children around in 90% of their life, and they are used to acting like that, and everyone they watch on TV and movies acts like that, are they going to stop and check to make sure no children are around before they let loose with a string of profanity? Somehow, I doubt it.

But what if the standard were Family Friendly? There are always ways to get less-family-friendly fare. Rent movies, go see movies, pay-per-view, purchase CDs, stream audio/video over the web, wait until after 10pm on HBO (that was the old standard...I'm fairly certain it doesn't hold true anymore, but I haven't watched HBO in more than a decade, so I could be wrong). Still, these things could all emphasize that in our society, you assume there are kids around and act accordingly.

Right now, they don't.

I can tell a string of dirty jokes if I want to. I even think some of 'em are funny. But I can also tell a string of funny clean jokes. And most of them are far funnier. Can you?

The word on the street is that Chris Rock just isn't funny without the F-bomb. Bill Cosby touched on the same issues with greater depth and sensitivity, with more humorous results. Isn't it sad that Chris Rock (and other modern comedians) can't do that anymore?

Ellen Degeneres reportedly could read the alphabet and make it funny. But she had to learn to be funny under pretty stringent standards, didn't she? Compare that to the next generation of comedienne: Jeneane Garafalo. No comparison.

And when Ellen stopped being a comedienne and started being an "alternative lifestyle" pioneer, she stopped being funny right along with it. That may not really prove any points, but it is interesting, I think.

The point is, adults should set the standard for mature behavior for children to properly model. Then, in adult settings with no children around, go ahead and bring out the juvenile humor and sexualizations, etc. But cable TV is ubuquitous enough that it can no longer be considered an adult setting.

Posted by Nathan at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)
Post a comment

Remember personal info?