Just What The F#©k Is Going On With All This Filthy Language?!

CrunchSo I’m walking down the street the other day, minding my own business, when out of the blue I get called a motherfucker by a local gym. Well, wait a minute. I’m sorry. What they actually called me was a “muthafu©&@” which I’m guessing shouldn’t be offensive at all because they changed the “K” to a “&”. However, because I’m not completely without the ability to connect the simplest of dots, I managed after much scrutiny, to string together the word that was being implied. The promotion was on a bus station billboard. I did not find it online while seeking out their services or view it as a commercial during Pulp Fiction. It was square in the middle of the sidewalk as I was looking for the Scaredy Cat store in Park Slope of all places. Home of a million strollers.

I don’t understand what’s going on with boundaries these days but it seems like they’re being worn away at every turn and in my opinion, nowhere is this more evident than when they are blatantly absent from an advertisement like the one above. Aren’t ads supposed to embody the epitome of professionalism seeing as they represent a business? If shouting out “motherfucker” on an ad is acceptable, then where isn’t it?

Before I continue, let me just say that I’m not opposed to profanity in the right environment. I don’t even mind the word motherfucker. In fact, I quite like it. It serves a multitude of purposes from expressing disdain, to when used properly, conveying camaraderie.

I also understand the playfulness of what the fitness center was trying to do. It’s not like I think the gym is being hostile towards me. Yet anyone with even a modest amount of common sense knows that you don’t just walk up to a complete stranger and say “Hay motherfucker!” That’s the kind of familiarity which is reserved for friends who have taken the time to get to know whether or not that behavior is cool with you. Not bus posters with whom you have never shared so much as a beer. Crunch is not your friend, so why do they feel it’s OK to assume the privilege?

And they’re not the only ones. Every day on my commute home I see this when I’m getting off the train:

Grubhub ad

I don’t mind the image. I actually think it’s kind of adorable. But won’t some people mind? Most of us have agreed that “shit” is a “bad” word. It’s one that a lot of parents try at all costs to avoid having their kids repeat. Grubhub knows this, otherwise they wouldn’t need to substitute an exclamation point for the letter “I” in an effort to somehow disguise what’s actually being said. But they do it anyway and then post it right where any five year old can view it and say “look at that shit!” If Grubhub wants this kind of cheeky humor to set the tone of their operation, then they should put it on their website for people who are specifically interested in having a witty food delivery service, not on the train platform for everyone to view as they’re exiting the subway.

Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of it than it is, but I was twenty-one before I ever heard my father say a bad word, so to me they pack more of a punch and it just seems like they’re everywhere now. I would be floored if I saw ads with foul language in them when I was growing up. Can you imagine flipping through a magazine in 1987 and seeing this?

Hunt Ad

Your parents would have a heart attack.

And it’s not just in ads that we’re being bombarded with vulgarity. I was taking a spinning class the other night and the instructor put a song on that was repeating the lyric “but tonight I’m fucking you.” over and over again. Am I crazy or is this wildly inappropriate? I’m working out with thirty people of all ages and from different backgrounds. How is it OK to assume that every one of us is cool being told twenty times in three minutes that we’re going to get hammered by some douchebag for this evening only?

I just went food shopping to take a break from writing this and what do I find on today’s cover of The Post?


The grocery store should be a relatively safe place for those who don’t want to imagine an asshole at four o’clock on a Sunday, yet here it is, right on the front page. After I picked up the paper, I headed to the check-out line where one cashier yelled to another “Stop stealing my pens, bitch!” as he was ringing me up.


What I’m saying is that profanity has its place. I expect it when I go to some movies or read certain magazines or turn on the TV after nine but its presence in my life should be my choice. I shouldn’t be ambushed by it as I’m walking down the street or into a deli or off the train or at the mall. Advertisers and people in general should ask themselves one question before presuming that barking obscenities at a person is acceptable and that question is “Do I know this motherfucker?”

If not, then keep it civil.


  • Lisa

    I miss profanity. I miss it being in everyday conversation, I miss saying it, and not stopping myself mid-sentence because I feel like a jackass. LOL You’re right though spin class is probably not the best place, some religious Muslim or orthodox Jewish guy probably doesn’t appreciate it like I do.

    • Kelly

      Like I said, I don’t mind it! It’s just weird to me that I can be walking down the street with Cairo and a gym as yells out “Look at me muthfucka!” What do I tell my kid about that?

  • anonymouse

    Mike Hunts tomato sauce, my once a month favorite!

  • Oma

    totally agree Kelly…. besides the word Mother..(. you now what) turns my stomach. I had a conversation
    once with a Person who uses this words and was told: it is just a word, so what! Well not to me!!!!

    • Kelly

      I think I know that person.

  • Gabriele

    I think this article should be posted on XO Jane…and see what kind of a response you get! Would be verrrrry interesting. So many people would laugh, and so many people would be offended just by you! Too funny!

    • Kelly

      I was thinking the same da#n thing!

  • Rochelle Migliore

    Yep, agreed.

    Overusing profanity takes away its impact, either as humor (like with old folks-my favorite peeps, especially when it comes to swearing) or to accentuate a point (i.e. the American who has spent the most time with the nuke-craziest kid on the block is Dennis f*#%ing Rodman?!?!).

    I love that you wrote this :)

    • Kelly

      Haha! Absolutely. I like my profanity to be peppered for effect. It’s best when it’s not expected.

  • Antonine Amisial

    You are so right!

  • diane

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Kelly. I don’t like being inundated with it wherever I go. Both your father and I were brought up in a household where profanity was never used and our father was proud of that.

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  • Tabatha

    More agreement! Public profanity is not cool. It feels like our culture is not very classy, and getting less so.

  • http://gainstead.com/website-seo-consultant-specialist-an-overview/ suzann

    This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

    • Kelly

      Well that just made my day. Thanks so much Suzann!

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  • http://naomihattaway.com/ Naomi Hattaway

    I actually wrote about this recently, but it was in terms of business coaches and the well known girls who are teaching other women to “live a life of more” that can’t seem to stop using the profanity … I cuss like a sailor, but … it’s just a bit over the top. I haven’t seen it like this though in public … at least with the online stuff, I can choose to not click over …

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Are business coaches using lots of profanity? I wouldn’t know but I could see it being used in sort of a lame way of trying to be one of the boys. Like I say curse a lot so I must be tough. I use profanity quite often but I like for it to mean something. When it’s every other word it’s just less powerful and ultimately boring.

      • http://naomihattaway.com/ Naomi Hattaway

        Yep. That’s it – hitting the nail on the head … it needs to mean something. I just reread my piece and it was more leaning towards the f bomb, but it just doesn’t feel classy. http://naomihattaway.com/2013/10/the-fk-word-why-is-it-all-of-a-sudden-so-popular/

        (now, don’t mind me as I spend the rest of the afternoon reading your stuff!)

        • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

          Thanks for linking to your post. This sounds interesting. I’ll definitely check it out. And thanks for reading mine!