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Monday, May 23, 2011

Thoughts on Being Someone You're Not, Sarcasm, & the Seven (or More) Words You Can't Say on TV

They tell you to be who you are, to face each day with confidence and every hater with proud defiance.  They tell you bullies quiver when you stand up to them.  They tell you the underdogs will make it, too, and live far more fulfilling lives than the popular kids.

By "they," I, of course, mean motivational posters.  And the people who grade the New York State Regents.  Absolutely terrifying.

I'm not sure if any of those things are true - or even good words to live by.  It's nice to have a dream to cling to, but a little realism never hurt anybody.  You can be a dreamer (you're not the only one), but you need to have a foot on the ground to make any of those dreams come true.  And, besides, if you're a creative soul (an author, a painter, a songwriter, anything), doesn't it help to sometimes step outside your comfort zone and see how the other half lives?  Whatever that other half that is, I mean.

So, I'm a writer.  Meaning, I write things.  Very often, I write fictional things.  Sometimes, these fictional things are only thinly veiled retellings of relatively mundane events from my life.  More often, however, I like to mix things up and see where my overactive imagination can take me.  I might want to write about monsters, about Europeans, about drug dealers.  Being none of these things, I wouldn't be doing the story justice if I were to be myself and write what I know.  Because I know next to nothing about most subjects I chose to take on - at the outset, at least.  I do research.  I draw from media, sure.  I make up my own rules.

And you can't do any of that by sitting back and being yourself.


Unless genuinely moved to tears or sincere laughter, I reply to everything and anything with wry humor.  Dry wit.  Sarcasm.  I don't know any other way.  So, I'm very sorry if I've ever said anything that stung a little, something that didn't seem to show the right amount of gravity to fit the situation.  Sarcasm is my fallback.  Making light of something makes it less scary.  If I can joke about it, I can alleviate the awkward, the sad, the general negative feelings.  And if I can make you laugh about something terrible in your life, bonus points.  You can face whatever the hell it is that's getting you down with a chipper new outlook - or, at least, knowing I'll always be here to listen and make you laugh again, whenever you need me.  But, if you ever need me to be serious, tell me you're upset by my cavalier attitude.  I can change my ways.  For you.


While listening to the radio one day with friends, one friend asked why they changed the words "fuck you" in Cee Lo Green's song to "forget you."  I told him, automatically, that they have to.  It's the law.  You can't say some things on the radio.  The words need to be changed - they just have to be.  But I don't really know why.  I couldn't give him a reason beyond they're too offensive to some people to play on the air and they have to be changed.  That's just the way it is.  Some words are bad, wrong, dirty, sickening.

Why?  Why do we force people to stifle their creativity, rephrase what the mean, change their words and meanings and emotions to fit our sensibilities?  The joyful, powerful, bittersweet yelling of "FUCK YOU!" makes that song what it is.  "Forget you" is shit.  It's weak and has none of the same impact.  There are times you really just need the expletive.

Censorship.  Burning.  Shame.  Why do these words exist, these actions occur?  Why are book burnings, lyric changes, and ridicule allowed?  If it's offensive and you feel the need, then slap a warning on it.  Works are a product of their time - study them as a part of history to avoid feeling offended.  Loosen up and see where the future takes us.

Because there's hope.  They allow some curse words on TV - bullshit, asshole.  I heard "fuck," once, early in the morning, and my mind was blown.  There's better and best; there's shitty and shittier.  Same growth, same progression.  It isn't rational to fear words.

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