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Movie Mom

Network Television’s Distressing New Word

posted by Nell Minow

Years ago, “Saturday Night Live” had a funny “Wayne’s World” sketch with Bruce Willis as the high school cool kid, who appeared on the show to reveal to Wayne and Garth what the new cool insult word of the year would be.  I’m not going to reveal that word here, but I am beginning to suspect that somewhere there is a Bruce Willis equivalent who decides what boundary-crossing word will all of a sudden be prevalent on broadcast television.  Last year it was an ugly and misogynistic term for an outdated product used for intimate female cleansing.  As in the “Wayne’s World” sketch, this year’s word is an anatomical reference, used to insult or provoke.  According to the New York Times, all of a sudden the most popular new word is the clinical term for what are sometimes more politely referred to as lady parts.  Sadly, in many cases the scripts are written by women who seem to think that it makes them cool enough to be in the TV boys club instead of understanding it makes them look undignified, insecure, and trashy.

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Two female writers who are behind three of the shows that use the word commented:

I think our tolerance for what is edgy is changing,” said [Whitney] Cummings, who, besides writing her own comedy for NBC, also wrote “Two Broke Girls” with Michael Patrick King, a longtime producer and writer of “Sex and the City.” “We’re getting a little desensitized, so sometimes you have to be more and more shocking because now you have YouTube and the Internet and all the rest that’s available for us to watch.”

“I think it’s great this is all coming from women,” said Liz Meriwether, the creator of another new show, “New Girl.” “This is all part of the human experience”…As for the reasons to use it, she added: “Sometimes you use crudeness just for shock. But sometimes you’re using crudeness because it absolutely is the funniest joke. I think the best comedy is the stuff that does make you a little uncomfortable.”

I think the best comedy does not confuse cheap shocks with what is genuinely provocative.

 

 

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Wendy

    I know I sound old fashioned, but I liked it when they had to be creative. Some of the best things come from finding ways to work within limits.

    • Nell Minow

      Absolutely right, Wendy. As my mom says, it’s proof of lack of imagination.

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