Shortly before Christmas, I received another reminder from my RSS feed that I hadn't written enough posts in 2016. A story boomeranged and got recycled by lesser news outlets 11 months after it first made the rounds. Way way back in January 2016, a teenage hero named Charlotte Heffelmire rescued her dad from a house fire. How did she do it? Well, he was pinned under a car in his garage, so she found superhuman strength and lifted the car off of him. That prompted the editor at Jezebel (then still park of Gawker Media) to use this great headline, containing the F word.
I forwarded the story to my parents, who liked it, but my mom felt some reservations about the use of the word fucking in the headline. She shot an email back:
"...here's my complaint. Since when does the four letter " F " word appear everywhere?? It's a noun, verb, adjective, adverb ( just add an ly or an ing) etc. Serious stories and reviews often descend into vulgarity in the use of this word. It's lost all shock value and bite. The use of the word is supposed to be effective? Or a shock? Or describe something so harrowing that the word adds raw emotion and fierce meaning to the event? The overuse of what used to be a word, though vulgar, had a particular place in our verbal lexicon. The article that complained about the vulgar exchange between the public spectacle of Gervais and Gibson used the "F" word. Need I say more?"
Now this news story came out the same week as the Golden Globes. And in 2016, I believe Ricky was the first host to drop an F-bomb.
"What the fuck does sugar tits even mean." - Ricky Gervais
The word is powerful and should be used sparingly. I like the modern journalist standard of using it in a quote, but not in the copy or editorially in a headline. The late Gawker Media used the word liberally, so that's why we see it above in the headline.
The word has been with us since the 1600s. But I feel it went mainstream during the Nixon administration. The Vietnam war popped that bubble, and a Nixon official used the term "ratfucking" in the media.
I always liked Hunter S. Thompson's restraint. He used the word most often in quotes, often quoting himself. Those were his exclamations. But in describing things, he used very eloquent language. I always liked that mix. There was the character writing the story, and there was the story.
Fuck is a tool. Respect it and use it wisely. Like a cymbal crash.