I have written before about the coarsening of language in the media, which continues to concern me. Two recent examples are in the titles of upcoming releases. While the movie and television series are not intended for children, I wonder whether it is appropriate for these titles to be advertised so widely as it is almost certain children will be exposed to them.
The first is “Dinner for Schmucks,” an American remake of the French film shown in the United States as “The Dinner Game.” It is a comedy about a cruel prank in which successful friends have a contest to see who can bring the biggest dork to dinner. The word “shmuck” is Yiddish slang often used to describe a hopeless loser or total idiot, but its literal meaning is the male genitalia.
The second is a just-announced television series from CBS called “$#*! My Dad Says,” based on the popular Twitter feed (yes, there is now a television show based on tweets) called S*** My Dad Says. CBS says the title is pronounced “Bleep My Dad Says.”
These quasi-euphemisms seem inadequate to me. And so does this response from CBS spokesman Phil Gonzales, who said. “Parents who choose to do so will find the show can easily be blocked using their V Chip.” How, Mr. Gonzales, do we block the advertising and news reports that will keep pushing this show’s title on our families?