Two-show reality television star Kourtney Kardashian (Keeping up with the Kardashians and Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami) recently posted a blog entry for PEOPLE's "Moms & Babies" section. She publicly voiced a legitimate concern I think valid: how to motivate Kardashian family and friends to curb their penchant for cursing, in this case around Kourtney's lovable new son, Mason Dash Disick.
Vulgar language has reached epic proportions in this country and I'm disgusted by the increasing habit (rewarded by "shock" reality television) of show "celebrities" trotting out words with intent of provocation. Of course, another sad option is the unfortunate possibility that some reality stars use cursing as a form of linguistic emphasis, not aware (or not caring) that other words, different words, would (1) better represent their point of view while (2) create more fulfilling and respectful relationships. Of the two theories, however, I'm inclined to think theory one closer to the mark.
I agree that rules relax when chugging a beer with a friend commiserating over the woes of an ever-stagnant economy, but when new and innocent life enters the equation, behavior must accommodate. Children follow the behavioral norms of their caretakers. Kids parrot what they hear and replay what they see. Kourtney's concern of excessive vulgarity is spot-on. I wish her the best of luck as a language free of vulgarity serves not only her new son, but American culture as well. Imagine that.
To be fair, I admire certain characteristics of the Kardashian family dynamic. They seem to genuinely love each other, act as a support system for the trials and tribulations most families encounter, and have open lines of communication, a success for a family of this larger size.
But here's what makes me cringe. On any given episode, Kardashian vulgarity is most likely assured. Not all family members are cursing offenders. To their credit, mother Kris Kardashian and father/stepfather Bruce Jenner seemingly refrain from vulgar words themselves, Yet they do little to call foul or set boundaries for appropriate language, even in their own household! I recognize other families have similar "loose" linguistic parameters, but this family is public, visible, and apparently here to stay. These reality shows are scheduled on endless repeat television loops. My fear is that young, formative minds see this, hear this, repeat this, and now we have an American cultural norm of behavior.
I'm not okay with that.
You shouldn't be either.
If I were to ask you to define "power", I doubt you'd mention the concept of language. But words matter. Words can inspire, motivate, uplift, and enlighten. Conversely, words can destroy, belittle, agitate, and if repeatedly used in any given context, create and perpetuate a new behavioral norm. Left unchallenged, the norm remains and can devolve into something worse. Once someone uses a curse word, the situation can then change. We've now bumped a line of dialogue into a possible ego conflict between two people, a group, a community, or a country.
I know cursing is here to stay. And yes, I'm aware that cursing even has a health-related benefit. Research reveals that people can absorb physical pain for a longer duration if they're allowed freedom to curse freely at will. Logically, this makes sense. If your body is flush with hurt and ache, a hearty stream of all-words-vulgar removes our minds from physical agony and temporarily shifts us to a place that allows us to better cope.
Even Mark Twain understood the possible need for cursing. "There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It's dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that." But observe his approach to balance. His admission is that while cursing serves a need, there's a time and place to do so. I'd conclude, then, that cursing is the exception and shouldn't be the rule. Vulgarity disseminated by media is especially insidious. The inches quickly create miles until we've arrived in F-Town where anything goes and business is anything but usual.
A fair question from you may be do I myself curse? Yes. But I do so rarely using the milder forms, usually in private, not as an everyday practice, and I hope never on national television. I don't wish to negatively influence young minds nor compromise my professional reputation. I'm an aunt of three and a college educator of thousands. I don't want my behavior in any way used as reinforcement that because "Aunt Lisa" or "Professor Luccioni" does it, it's okay.
Because it's not.
I may be fighting a losing battle here. I've read discussion boards where freedom of speech essentially means you can say whatever you want, whenever you want, to whomever you want, and that's what makes our country great.
But F-this and F-that and F-you doesn't make this country great.
If you're tempted to give me an F-you for my thoughts on this subject, you're welcome to do so. Just follow Twain's advice. Take it to another room. I'd prefer not to hear your filth. Or instead, contact Ryan Seacrest, the producer of both shows. While his upbeat personality and charming celebrity interviews on cable's E (Entertainment) network seem to suggest he's a "good" guy, I think him the opposite in this regard. The man's awash in cash, but at what cost? No amount of money is worth the perpetuation of an F-you America.
Isn't it interesting that one rarely, if ever, hears Ryan personally cursing on air. But his love of ratings for his produced Kardashian shows tacitly gives his approval for it. Some have suggested that Ryan is our generation's version of Dick Clark. No way. Dick would never be so crass.
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