“G-Force” is an upcoming PG-rated comedy from Disney about a crack team of super-agents who happen to be guinea pigs, assisted by a mole and a fly, with voice talent including Tracy Morgan and Steve Buscemi. The trailer makes it look like fairly harmless nonsense, though I winced a bit when the girl guinea pig dances to “don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me.” But what really made me pause was the line “pimp my ride.” Has that term become so thoroughly sanitized that it is now acceptable in a children’s film from Disney?
It is the nature of words and other elements of culture to move from the edge to the mainstream and that is often a very good thing; it is what keeps our culture vital, engaging, and challenging. The word “pimp” has expanded from its original meaning as a man who manages prostitutes. Last year, when a journalist used it to describe the way Hilary Clinton’s campaign was deploying her daughter Chelsea, however, the candidate’s response was more as a mother than a politician, saying “Nothing justifies the kind of debasing language that David Shuster used and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient.” The reporter and the network apologized unreservedly and whole-heartedly.
MTV’s television series “Pimp My Ride” has popularized the use of the term as a reference to tricking up something, making it more glamorous and show-offy (like the popular notion of the pimp lifestyle), and it is in that sense that the word is used in this film. But I was sorry to see both Disney and the MPAA find that it is appropriate language for a PG. I believe it is inappropriate language for children to hear and use and a troubling contribution to the coarsening of our culture and discourse.