28 March 2008

Shutting Up

Growing up, my sisters and I were forbidden to say certain things. Not just slang that my parents didn't like, but also a few more common expressions. In the interest of being polite, and learning to speak like someone who had more than 3 brain cells to rub together, they strictly enforced good grammar.

"Shut up!" was one of those things we weren't allowed to say. Too rude. I thought it was dumb, but complied and didn't use it in front of them. (Which is not to say that I've never said 'shut up'! I did, and I still do from time to time.)

These days, there is commercial running on television for one of the fast food joints. It uses the phrase, "Shut UP" and it irritates the living shit out of me. It is offensive. And annoying. And loud. I finally understand why they didn't want my sibs and I to say 'shut up'.

To get around it, we'd say 'be quiet' or something similar. After I learned Swedish, I'd use the very vulgar phrase in Swedish that meant something along the lines of 'keep your damn mouth shut' just because I could.

But now, I think if I had a child, I'd probably enforce the same rule.

I'd like to put on my Spinster Grammar Aunt hat (oh, wait....I never take it off, so no need to search for it) and write a letter to the offending fast food joint. It might go something like this.

Dear Multi-National Conglomerate and Perpetrator of Obesity in America:

Your current advertising campaign for the double super-huge bacon cheeseburger with enough fat for an entire village in one serving is offensive in the extreme. Having the actors shout "Shut up!" at their growling stomachs makes it appear as if this phrase is acceptable in polite society. You should not need the Spinster Grammar Aunt to point out that this is not the case.

Additionally, the growling stomachs sound quite a bit like belching; again, not acceptable in polite society. The Spinster Grammar Aunt is forced to wonder if your marketing and advertising departments, and indeed the executives who approved this campaign, were raised in an outdoor environment with lupine companions. This would seem the only plausible reason that this commercial runs nearly continuously on both network and cable television.

Please, before Western Civilization completely deteriorates, remove this commercial from the airwaves forthwith.

Very Truly Yours, et cetera,

The Spinster Grammar Aunt


Unfortunately, sending such a missive just might get me committed to that mental institution that takes in such cranks as those who insist upon good grammar, good manners, and the like.


John said...

OK, since I've opened the language can over at my place I must say I read this post with a bemused thought and amused grin. "Shut up!" is leading to the "Complete deterioration of Western Civilization" (yes, I understand hyperbole...) yet your not-so-infrequent peppering of ill-mannered words is ok? *chuckle* Maybe we can check in to rooms across the hall from each other at that institution for cranks who insist on "good grammar, good manners, and the like."

Lest I leave the impression of being "holier than thou," I exercise the use of "strong (?)language" but I try and limit it to hitting my head or correctly identifying idiot drivers. Also, I attempt to be keenly aware of any potential audience.

As I often tell my children, "You may live among them but you don't have to talk like them." Granted, this most often refers to grammar issues, but it has reasonable application here.

As always, blessings!


Lucy Arin said...

John, you always make me smile. Yes, I see how insane that makes me look...shut up = not good, swear words = completely OK. Kind of like how I'm a liberal who supports the death penalty, no?

I just like to think of it as one of my lovable foibles.

John said...

Yeah, what the hell were you thinkin'? ;-)

MotherMe said...

Hey, Lucy- shut UP!!!

(couldn't resist)


Dawna said...

Amen, sistah! My kids are forbidden to say things as "shut-up", "stupid", "retarded"... those are on the top of my head at the moment. But essentially it is our (Hubster's and I) rule that one must be colourful with our words. Unfortunately, the grown-ups in the house to say some not so nice things, but the girls know damned well that they are NOT to say the same.

It is unfitting of a civilized child to say "shut-up". It lacks manners. "Be quiet, please." ^_^

Emily said...

Oh, I hate that commercial. Despise it. Always mute the TV over commercial breaks, largely to avoid commercials exactly like that one.

SHUT IT UP. Gah. Awful.