It once meant offensive, but now it seems to be a primary tool for driving up popularity. Actually, there’s nothing new about it. The Internet just makes it seem like it.
Speech has characterized the true nature of people since the beginning of time. The Bible account of creation shows Satan taking the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. He utters the first lie, a specific type of vulgarity. Deception. The high price of vulgarity resulted in Adam and Eve disobeying God. They were expelled from the Garden.
Another Bible example is recorded on the evening of the crucifixion of Christ. The apostle Peter is warming himself at a fire among those who are clamoring for Christ to be executed. Repeatedly he’s being pointed out as one of the disciples, but each time he denies even knowing Christ. Finally, as though it would serve to prove his innocence he begins to curse. (Matthew 26:74) Vulgarity served its purpose. I’m sure the folks around that fire figured, “He’s one of us.”
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s foul mouthed comic Lenny Bruce made headlines by being profane and vulgar. From 1961 to 1964 he was repeatedly arrested for violating obscenity laws. Some have argued that he was a man before his time. I’d argue that he was just a profane man before vulgarity became chic. Today, his act would likely get lost in a sea of stand-up comic acts more vulgar than anything he created. Can you be a standup comic today without vulgarity? (Bill Cosby and Sinbad notwithstanding).
The Parental Advisory warning started in 1990. 2LiveCrew’s record, Banned in the USA, was the first recording to earn the non-removable sticker. In that same year, 1990, the Motion Picture Association Of America instituted the current rating system which escalates from G to PG to PG-13 to R to NC17. We’re so protective of our youth that we won’t allow a 16 year old to view an R rated movie without an adult or parent. They can’t drink alcohol until they’re 21, but we can begin corrupting their mind much sooner.
Video recorders began to hit mainstream America in the mid-70’s. The first big content provider? The porn industry.
The Internet began its march into our lives in the mid-90’s, a full twenty years after most of us had seen our first VCR (video cassette recorder for you young folks). The first big content providers? The porn industry.
Blogging was picking up steam by the late 1990’s. You were as likely to run across some profanity laced filled content as anything, with accompanying photos.
Sure, the vulgarity has become more sophisticated. Well, that’s the term some use. A better term might be the phrase “socially acceptable.”
Browse through a random Flickr account and you’ll likely see countless photos of people flipping off the photographer. Visit just about any YouTube channel and scan the comments. Odds are the first comment will have a bomb front and center.
Remember when you were young? When you heard somebody at school cuss for the first time? Okay, I’m showing my age. I’m guessing today’s kindergartners have heard most every cuss word known to man before they enter the classroom. Many of them have grown up hearing mom and dad talk that way. Innocence doesn’t remain very long. We’re speeding toward vulgarity so our kids can become fluent by the time they hit 3rd grade.
The middle finger is now the title of a “project” that extols the value of F-bombing. No, I won’t link to it, but you can figure it out and see for yourself how debased we’ve become.
And now it has come to this.
Decency is scoffed at, ridiculed and mocked.
Shocking vulgarity does garner attention. No doubt about it. If you’re tempted to join the insanity of vulgarity, resist. Find encouragement knowing that profanity-filled content won’t bring you more honor, respect or trust.
And if there are no children in your life, then take a look at just two of the ones who are part of my life. That’s Jake and his big brother, Max, pictured above. They’re my grandsons. Max is in pre-school. He just turned 5. You don’t know him, but if you were around him would you watch what you said? I’m hoping you’ve got enough decency to answer, “Of course, I would.” (Note: Almost 5 years ago I wrote this post on Max’s site about men who influence boys.)
Vulgarity, indecency, profanity…they all contribute to greater immorality. In our lives. And in our children’s lives.
Moral bankruptcy creeps up on us. Adults, just like the kids who bullied the bus monitor with round after round of vulgarity, find themselves saying and doing things they may have once never imagined. The high price of vulgarity must be paid.
No one’s life is improved by vulgarity or profanity. Everyone’s life is improved by decency. You decide which one you’ll embrace and serve. Little pictures have big ears, but big pictures do, too.