The New York Times recently dished up a naughty word when it noted U.S. moms were mad about a Motrin commercial. The reporter didn’t write mad. She wrote p*ssed. Curious, we punched the “P” word into the NYT search engine and found 4,750 references — or 4,749 if you count the typo in the headline that should have read “Census Bill is Passed.” It all reminds us of the nudity and sex in advertising becoming more prevalent, as AdRants notes daily, which may not be good for communications.
Advertisers and writers now shout louder to be heard in the din of fragmented media. The staid New Yorker magazine has dropped the F-bomb 106 times so far this year. As curses become copiously abundant, their impact is lessened, leaving us with lousy language and scant resources for the occasional real exclamation.
We’ve written before that the little amygdala organ in the front of our skull is programmed to be jolted by strong language, an evolutionary response similar to fleeing from a saber-toothed tiger. A long time ago one of your cave ancestors yelled Fug!, and the people who ran from the attack survived to become your great-grandparents. But if we continue to shout Fug! too much, our amygdalae will get dulled, until no one really gives a damn — and sadly, on that day humanity will have lost its ability to shock.
Photo by Demi-Brooke.