Crazy Like a Foxx

Obscene language and graphic descriptions of all bodily activities are popping up everywhere—books, films, cable TV, records, magazines, ad vertising. Editors no longer cross out an expletive if they feel it's germane to the story. In the 1984 presidential election campaign, one public interest group headlined their ad with the word "Bullshit!"

Blue vocabulary isn't shocking to young urban blacks and Hispanics because it's'their street language. It could be said (colorfully) that the shocking blue language of Redd Foxx and many of his colleagues is intended to shock lily whites and unite blacks against red- and yellow-skinned immigrants.

People tell me that they're disgusted with my kind of language. So I ask if I can take 'em out to the parking lot and slam a car door on their hand. Then, they'll say both "shit" and "motherfucker." — Redd Foxx

Foxx needn't have been so selective. You can hear the same language on a golf course when you pick up the wrong ball.

There's straightforward logic for using obscenities, when appropriate. Humor doesn't lead society—it follows. Humor pokes fun at human antics and that includes our language. In everyday life, we use shock words to get attention, so while obscenity isn't synonymous with humor, it's certainly an important ingredient.

A lot of humor serves as communion among members of a specific social, political, or ethnic group. It reinforces group solidarity. If the audience is prejudiced, so is the performer's humor. For instance, the retort of the red-neck factory manager to a civil rights investigator:

What do you mean, 'Am I respectful of equal opportunity for women?' Of course I am. We have a lot of broads working here.

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