Pissed, pissed, PISSED. There, I’ve said it and I feel so much better. But Ben Ratliff can’t say it in the NY Times. The music critic wrote a review of a rock concert that contained one of the oddest locutions I’ve ever read in a newspaper. A picture of the lead singer printed the band’s name thus: ****** Jeans. Here’s what followed:
His band, from Philadelphia, has a name that lies just on the other side of what’s printable here; it describes a basic bladder-related humiliation, something that happens to the drunk or scared or infantile. As it happens, that described some of Friday night’s crowd at the Silent Barn, a little performance space in Ridgewood, Queens.
Has it really come to this? The Times can’t publish the world “pissed” in print?? What is God’s name is wrong with pissed? Is there a problem with acknowledging the human function of micturation in a family newspaper? I’d like to ask a Times editor what is so bad about this word. And further, this Google search of the Times site brings up scores of references to the word ‘pissed’ in the Times. The difference is that these seem all to be quotations from books in the Times Book Review. But seriously, what’s the difference?
I know Jon Stewart is going to have a field day with this one on his show. This is one of the things that makes me happy I’m a blogger and not a professional journalist. In case you’re interested–Ratliff liked the concert.
This incident reminded me of a column from the L.A. Times a few days ago by Gustavo Arellano, So who the *#% & $+ wants to know?
The Times ran [an] article…about its new owner, Sam Zell. A photographer at one of his other newspapers had asked Zell about the type of coverage he expected from reporters. In responding, Zell apparently became angry because she turned her back on him before he was finished, so he directed what the paper called a “two-word obscenity” at her.
…The Times’ coverage of its loose-lipped boss is…hilariously dowdy. Seriously, Spring Street: a “two-word obscenity?” What on Earth did Zell say? “Darn tootin’? ” “God dammit?” (Or is that one word?) “Mitt Romney?” If the story deserves to be written, don’t we deserve to know what it’s really about? The Chicago Tribune did a slightly better job describing Zell’s snafu, describing his jab as a “four-letter” word — and as weak as that description is (was the offending term “poop?” “Hell?” “Hola?”), it’s still much better than what The Times allowed.
…The silliest part of all this? Anyone can easily find the unexpurgated Zell and Butz quotes on the Internet in about three seconds. Curious readers like myself will merely forsake The Times and other such prudish newspapers and go directly to news organizations with no such compunction. The Times doesn’t have to insert bad words in every story to remain relevant; just print the news…
The fact that I can’t print…Zell’s f-bomb in a Times column criticizing The Times for not printing them in the first place is ridiculous.
Hey, Zell: I hear you love to curse. How about making this paper reflect your saltiness, you (same word Zell uses to insult reporters, no doubt appreciated by him, but that can’t appear in the Los Angeles Times — yet)?
Say Amen somebody.