Okay, maybe it says something about the kind of day I’ve had, but tonight my thoughts turned to cursing.
Specifically, the kind of cursing people do in movies, suitable-for-radio songs and (especially) TV shows.
A recent example of what I’m talking about: The Cee Lo Green song “Forget You,” which isn’t really called “Forget You.” But thanks to the censored version — which probably gets more play than the uncensored version, except in strip bars — Cee Lo is a household name and star of a TV competition show.
In a time when bleeped expletives on TV are commonplace — and don’t take much effort to figure out — the made-up variety of cussing is a lot more entertaining.
So here’s a sampling of imaginative, imaginary cursing.
“Rassin-frassin-rassin …” Once-popular cartoon favorite Yosemite Sam, who appeared in 45 Warner Brothers shorts beginning in the 1940s, popularized this garbled style of cussing. Sam was kind of a daring character, really. Daffy Duck was a bitter little mallard but he didn’t swear. Just the fact that Sam muttered expletives in cartoons was testimony to how the Warner Brothers classics were made for adults as well as kids.
“Frak” and “Felgercarb.” In the original 1970s “Battlestar Galactica” series, characters routinely cursed by uttering “Frak.” We knew what what they meant. The 2000s revival of “Battlestar Galactica” brought “Frak” to a wider, hipper audience. Really, how cool was it when characters on other shows, including “Veronica Mars,” started exclaiming “Frak!”
“Felgercarb” — a euphemism for crap, according to the Battlestar Wiki — however, never caught on. Which makes sense, I guess. People could say crap on TV. They didn’t need a euphemism.
“Motherless goat of all motherless goats.” Don’t recognize it? That’s because it was uttered, in the original Chinese, on the much-missed Joss Whedon 2002 series “Firefly.” The series was set in a future in which China had a huge influence on human culture so, ideally, some of the best curses would be uttered in Chinese.
@%$#@! Okay, anyone who’s read comic strips and comic books recognizes what’s sometimes referred to as “cartoon cursing” or “comic strip cursing.” The fun part is that you can apply almost any string of curse words to it. And any random combination of top-row symbols.
“Oh, fudge!” One of my favorites. It’s from “A Christmas Story,” the 1984 classic that’s become a holiday season TV fixture. Fans remember that Ralphie blurts out “Oh fudge” when he drops a hubcap full of lug nuts. Except he doesn’t say fudge, of course.
Soapy mouth-washing-out ensues.