Wednesday, March 25, 2009

There are so many ways to measure how old I'm getting: there's my number of gray hairs, my increasing disdain for popular culture, dollar amount spent on imaginary cats, wisdom (har har), etc.

I now have a new one though: number of words that were acceptable to say when I was a kid but are now offensive.

When I was a kid, your main arsenal of insults primarily consisted of explaining to people either how stupid something was or how gay it was.

"Mom, I hate my brown shirt! It's retarded!"

"I don't want to see that movie. It's so gay."

Any variation on those words got the point across: queer, tard, gaywad, gaytard, etc. They all meant the same thing: does not meet my impeccable standards.

I stopped using the word 'gay' as a synonym for bad after trotting it out around actual gay people a few times. It took a while to unwrench it from the deep recesses of my brain since I had been using the term long before I even knew what a homosexual act was. I'm entirely out of the habit now, although I often fantasize about using it in a particularly politically correct environment, like slipping in a "The PTA Budget is $10,000 in the red this year, which is totally gay" into the PTA minutes. So far, I've abstained. At this point, it's been decades since I've offended people by clumsily equating their sexuality with things I deemed idiotic.

Retarding my usage of the word 'retarded' has been tougher because I'm personally friends with plenty of gay people, but not so much with the mentally handicapped. Plus, I get that the meaning of the word gay really has nothing to do with something being stupid, whereas the meaning of the word 'retarded' is at least related to the topic of brain activity. That being said, I get that many people are offended by the word and so it's not really appropriate unless I'm trying to be offensive.

But, man, what can I use? I mean, are there any groups of people left that we can all agree can be made fun of? Polish jokes are passe. Blonde jokes have run their course.

I need a go-to group to make fun of. Could we all agree, perhaps, to have a rotating nationality, or eye color, or hair style, that would be the designated target of our scorn and humor?

One year it could be the Luxembourgers, and the next year it could be people with curly hair. Something like that would really fill a void in my life.

10 comments:

The 4th Sister said...

since you are the man that can write about anything I do not know whay you do not post every day...

Bones said...

I have recently learned that "Leroy Jenkins" has become the new hip term for someone or something exceptionally stupid. You can look it up on YouTube, but to save the trouble, it refers to a moment in the online game World of Warcraft. Evidently the team spends several minutes painstakingly planning their strategy for attacking the monsters in the next room. Before they are ready, one of the players shouts his own name 'LEEERROOYY JENKINS!!!!" and runs out of the room and into the impending battle. His teammates follow and all are slaughtered. Thus, the PTA budget is completely Leroy Jenkins!

meg said...

My daughter Emily says we are still free to make fun of Nazi's.

Avery Gray said...

Koreans. Definitely Koreans.

Mike said...

4th Sister, write about anything? It takes time to come up with these subtle gems. :)

Bones, I like it, but I'd prefer to make fun of actual groups of people, like maybe special effects engineers.

Meg, I think the Nazis already get enough press with comparison to Nazis being a standard Internet rhetorical technique.

Avery, that's what I'm looking for. Get everyone else to agree and we'll run with it.

Jen said...

What about people with red hair? There's the term "gingers," which has that gritty quality I look for in an insult. Then there's the fact that red-haired people are not to be trusted.

Mike said...

Jen, no can do. I've had a lifelong crush on Ginger from Gilligan's island.

Ms.PhD said...

This may require more brainstorming, but I think it's a worthwhile pursuit.

yajeev said...

how about bloggers?

Mike said...

Yajeev, bloggers are the pinnacle of modern culture. I will NOT be making fun of them.