Felonious Use of Carnal Knowledge 2: The Word Salad

...and a lot of people apparently DO let the words hurt them.

August 17, 2011

It’s no secret that the words and language we use color our perceptions of the world. Having grown up in Mexico, my thoughts often start out in Spanish even though I speak more English than anything. That syntax and sound are the things I use to measure beauty in speech. I think, though, that there is no better recent example of this ability for early language to shape our perceptions than this little article.

In short, Johanna Gohmann talks about how her parents used euphemisms for certain words, especially things pertaining to sex or bodily secretions. From her article:

Perhaps not surprisingly, my parents’ modesty spilled over into s-e-x terminology as well. To be fair, we didn’t exactly live in Berkeley, Calif., with 9-year-olds openly shouting, “Mommy, my vagina itches!” This was the ’70s and ’80s in the suburbs of Indiana. Many families employed a certain slang with these words, and not just because “rectum” is a difficult word for a toddler. For many, it’s a given that girls have their “coochie” and boys have their “weiner.” But not us, thank you very much. A brief dictionary sampling displays words that were all our own.

Boo (verb) — to defecate: “Mom! The baby just booed in his pants.”

Tink (verb) — to urinate: “He just tinked into a root beer can while driving!”

Tote (noun) — both the male and female genitalia: “Jo kicked Marty in the tote!”

Bo (noun) — buttocks: “Where’s the Benadryl? A bee stung Graham on the bo.”

Giving him elbows (verb) — breast-feeding: “Mom is busy. She’s giving the baby elbows.”

Did you catch all that? It reminds me of a child a coworker once taught. He didn’t know any words for animals or numbers. He knew the baby words. Instead of dog, he’d call said animal a “bowwow.” A seven? That was a “stick w’nother stick.”

My niece, being all of six years old, is actually a very eloquent young lady who can speak a few English phrases and has near-perfect Spanish diction. Why? Her parents never baby-talked to her. I’m assuming my boss and her husband did the same thing with their daughter, a precocious little thing that has syntax down.

Imagine all the people. by ~audreymarlett on deviantART

I hope you’re seeing the problem with raising a child knowing euphemisms for common, everyday things the rest of us freely discuss. I understand a person might be uncomfortable with certain images and topics, but to alter the word itself will not get rid of that image or that topic.

Check this out. I’m going to substitute the word “Funyun” for “spic,” and all death-related verbs will be switched with “splooge.”

Okay, you see those Funyuns over there? They come here, they steal our jobs, and leave us with nothing. I’m not saying we need to splooge them. No one is saying anyone needs to get splooged. I’m just saying that something needs to get done about the Funyun problem or some of the more radical elements in this country might splooge them if they feel they’ve been pushed too far. And it’s not that I’m racist. My best friend is a Funyun. I just don’t want to see splooge on the streets of this great country.

Back in the third article ever posted here, I said that words have power when we give them power. Unless you have synesthesia, changing one word to another will not take away the meaning of a word. It might make it silly, but it doesn’t mean your subject’s changed.

Don’t be afraid of using the correct words and terms for something. Granted, there is such a thing as being polite in casual conversation, and certain words are funnier than others, but don’t sugar-coat the conversation because the topic upsets you. If the topic is what bothers you, don’t even talk about it. Be honest with yourself. Words have meaning for a reason.

Stop blaming the phonetics and start confronting the vocabulary.

And now, I present to you the only good thing to come out of Final Destination 5. You have to admire the self-awareness these actors and actresses had towards the entire project. They’re comfortable making fun of their movie even before it comes out. Enjoy the campiness!

Where Genres Go to Die

He sees you when you're sleeping...

May 12, 2011

Did we forget how to do horror?

Look, I’ll be the first to say that watching a bunch of dumb white kids go after weird noises and die ironic and elaborate deaths at the hand of a lovable sociopath is fun. I’ll be the first to say that a creepy sound in a quiet room can make most of us jump. I will admit that a well-done horror movie gets the blood pumping and the adrenalin going. A really good horror film can be an exercise in suspense, drama, and character growth.

This, I guarantee you, is none of those.

Yes, the franchise that just won’t die, even with a Mozambique Drill, napalm, and a kryptonite shiv in its back, is back for another installment. This time, it seems as if Death collapses a bridge and the survivors must once again try to outrun Death much the way trees outrun winter. This time, if the trailer is to be believed, the rules have changed!


Maybe Death got a gun and became more efficient.

Seriously, though, I remember when the first movie came out. The idea seemed interesting, if claustrophobic. If Death is after you, game over. How do you escape something like that? Well, according to the movie, you don’t. Big whoop. Even Ali Larter, who managed to survive in two installments, finally met her fiery end.

Death Is Only A Game by *wyldraven on deviantART

This film series, along with the many Saw remakes, are part of the reason torture porn is getting such a bad rep. Pretty much any slasher film will contain violent and gory shots, but that isn’t tension. I love a gory shot… if it has some sort of context. The Final Destination movies are really just a series of scenes wherein everything from a pebble to an escalator can kill you. There is no tension. You know people are going to die. The only question is the how. If we focus on one character, hey, guess what? That character’s dead. There is no getting around it.

Oddly, one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in the last few years is gorier and bloodier than the Final Destination films. Hatchet has about as clichéd a set-up as possible. Tourists go into the New Orleans bayou and encounter an undead hulk that butchers them with everything from the titular hatchet to a sander.

The difference? There was an actual sense of drama as to who would die and when. People had options. They made plans that didn’t actually depend on a deus ex machina coming in and killing them in the most contrived way possible. I know, I know. In most slasher films, you have to assume virtually no one will survive, but Final Destination takes away any pretense of drama and just shows us people being tortured because Death is far too much of a dick to just give you a heart attack or drop you out of a window.

It has to take you out with Freddy Krueger-like flair.

Well, link time.

  • Cats are agile stalkers, athletic paragons of grace… or are they? This one certainly isn’t.
  • And finally (yeah, short list today), in case you wanted to get the gist of the entire Final Destination series, here is every death in the movies set to some… appropriate music. See you Monday!