Cable TV gave me a potty mouth: Pop culture's influence on adults

People worry about the influence TV has on children. Forget kids, I'm worried about myself. This week I said $%^&#* for the first time in my entire life. I promptly followed it up with #&!+$%.

I generally don't curse much. However, in my defense, I think I know why I've started to talk like a trucker. I've been spending way too much time with Tony Soprano.

OK, yeah, I know The Sopranos has been off the air for years. But, I don't have HBO so I never saw the show in real time. I did, however, spend the last seven weeks watching all six seasons back to back. I had more than my fair share of murder, nudity, and profanity all condensed into a 50 day period. It was bound to have an impact, right?

Advocacy groups are always saying, "What about the children?" or "We have to protect kids!". Yeah, ok, that's true. But, frankly, thinking the provocative stuff on TV doesn't have an affect on adults is silly. I, for one, am far more impressionable than I realized!

Sure, grown-ups can make more educated decisions than minors, but being subjected to questionable language or behaviors can skew people's reality. Push the envelope far enough and extreme behavior can seem tame in comparison to something more outlandish.

The company we keep, the music we listen to, the TV shows and movies we watch shape us. How we perceive things, how we talk, and our sense of morality. Pop culture has squatter's rights in our brains and it knows no age boundaries. For better or worse, I'm apparently no different than a seven-year-old when it comes to picking up and repeating bad words.

Now, tell me what you &#@+$ think about all this, you #%&*@! In the meantime, I'm gonna go wash out my mouth with soap...


  1. I think I can count the number of times I used any kind of profanity before I met my husband. I try not to get too mouthy, but you probably wouldn't want to be in the passenger seat if someone cuts out in front of me while I'm at the wheel. I'm just sayin'.

  2. Put you and me in a room after spending a weekend with your hubby and Tony Soprano and there would be nothing sacred! :-)

  3. I think TV has an amazing subliminal influence on us, and especially in how we think about gender roles. The early generations of t.v. shows (I love Lucy) may not have such foul language but perpetuated women as pretty helpless housewives!

    What he %&#@$ is up with that! ;) By the way your blog title really caught my attention!

  4. No wonder The Mary Tyler Moore show was so well received, right? An independent working woman making it on her own!

    Thanks for the comment, the compliment, and the read. You #$%&* rock, Melody! :-)

  5. I can relate. I never watched 'Buffy' when it was on TV so when I finally watched it I think I knocked over about 3 season in a couple of weeks. For the next little while, every time I turned a corner I felt like someone was gonna jump out and attack me.

  6. Ha ha! Buffy was a great show. I didn't watch it the first few years, but got hooked on it later on.

    That show had a lot of it's own slang, too. I remember using a few Buffy words in my everyday vocabulary. Can't remember what they were, though.


  7. This is hilarious, Amber! We had a similar conversation about the F word on Spin Sucks after the Chrysler tweet debacle. I made the comment that I don't think that word belongs anywhere online or in business, for that matter (not that I'm some angel who never says it). And I got SKEWERED. The interesting thing is it was men who fought me on it, not women. But I stand my ground. And I agree with you...what we see on TV seems to make it OK. But my rule is, if I don't want my to dad to see it (boobs) or my grandfather to hear me say it (F word), I don't do it.

  8. Snoring Dog StudioApril 6, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    I've become addicted to "Dexter." I doubt seriously that I'll become a serial murderer with a taste for hacking up bodies into parts. There is cursing on that show, but I can't focus on it for all the blood...

  9. I have to monitor what is said constantly at home, but when I hear what my kids are subjected to on a daily basis in even kindergarten is scary!
    Could almost use it as an excuse to say whatever- those kids have SERIOUS potty mouths. But we don't because we are GOOD parents!

  10. I personally don't see a lot of influence from media affecting me. I was brought up in the public school system and heard all of it long before cable and was using and doing it. So most of what I have seen or heard in media I had already experienced.

    Now there have been exceptions to that, shows such as "All in the Family". Archie was a bigotted fool and I wasn't experiencing that in my life outside of that show, but Norman Lear also made sure to make Archie a fool because of his bigotry. Who knows, maybe that actually did have some influence on me.

  11. I'm not the greatest cussor in the world but I bet I could hold my own on a dare. The funny thing about cussing though, it's much MORE effective if you don't cuss and then in a heated discussion to make a point you come up with a rousing F%$#. So my favorite cuss word and I have absolutely no reason as to why. Pop culture might excuse my use of the word, but it's utterance from my BYU educated mouth is solely a decision I can only blame myself for.

    My direct supervisor, before he was promoted to his current position in the company I work for, told me one day in a one-on-one after I had probably said the F word a few times in normal conversation that he wanted to talk to me about something. I said Okay. He then went on to say You have such an angelic looking face and then you open your mouth and I hear Truck Driver (no offense truck drivers)! I promised he would never hear me use the word again.

    On his next visit, which didn't happen very often by the way, he borrowed my office to take a telephone call but soon I needed to retrieve something from my desk so I knocked softly, opened the door and pointed to the item. He nodded yes so I entered just as he said to his caller, oh that's just turned into a huge cluster F%$# ! I smiled at him and closed the door behind me. A few minutes later he came into the store and found me in an aisle. He told me to whom he had been talking and added that he told the caller right after I closed the door: OF ALL PEOPLE TO HEAR ME SAY THAT, it had to be Cheri! I smiled and replied that sometimes a well placed F%$# just seems to illustrate a point really well.

    We never talked about it again. But I still try not to say it. Not too often anyway. lol

  12. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Gini.

    Everything on my comment section is completely open and uncensored. However, there are two words I have blacklisted. The f word and the "ing" version of the f word. I agree with you. It has no place online or in business.

    As for your dad "seeing" it, does that mean he can't see the WORD? Or he can't see the REAL THING???? ;-)

  13. Yeah, fortunately I haven't whacked anyone since my Sopranos marathon, either. Not saying I didn't want to though...

  14. Good for you, Todd.

    I gotta say, I am SHOCKED over what I hear kids say. I still don't talk like that and never ever did as a child.

    What becomes a societal norm has that kind of impact, huh?

  15. Hey Tim. I'm sure that show DID have an influence on you. If only to reinforce what you already thought. TV can be powerful that way.

    I guess I was a bit sheltered growing up. No one around me in my formative years ever really cussed.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  16. Great story, Cheri! Thanks for sharing it here!

    If I didn't drive, I'd probably never cuss. Sometimes it just happens when someone on the road is a jerk.

    I guess I think that cussing is kind of like slang. There has GOT to be a better word to use.

    The other day, for example, I read an article about a kid using video to ask this girl to the prom. He said something like, "it would be clutch." I had to Google clutch to see what it meant, which was "cool". Geez. Whatever happened to "it would be fun"?

  17. I'm pretty sure if he saw the real thing, he'd DIE. But he'd be really mad at me if he saw me write the word. I totally see naked girls on TV or in the movies and say, "How do you think your dad feels about now?" If my dad doesn't want to see it, you don't get to see it either.

  18. Oh @#$T! I have very $%*&ing little to say on this B#%&*T topic....

    Have I told you today how F#$&*ng much I LOVE your F#$&*ng blog?

  19. I gotta say, I've never seen so much nudity as on The Sopranos. The setting of the strip club guaranteed lots of girlie parts.

    Now, go give your daddy a kiss Gini ;-)

  20. You always make me smile, Rachel. Thank you very much for that ;-)

  21. Ok Amber I will tell you exactly what the &@+$ I think about all of this through the echo chamber of a hearty chuckle. =D

    Lady-like or not sometimes I do let loose with a couple of choice words, usually when driving. I'm with Gini I don't think cursing has a place in business although I have heard some folks do it and am not really offended by it.

    As a child my very well meaning dad thought he could swear in Italian around me and I wouldn't understand. He was partially right, at age 2, 3 or 4 I didn't understand but that doesn't mean I didn't repeat it! My maternal grandmother was not Italian and was puzzled when I began to repeat what my dad said. One day she asked my mom what I was saying, mom's mortified response was "It's part of an Italian nursery rhyme." To this day I don't know for sure whether or not my grandmother believed it or not; if I had to guess I'll say she didn't but chose discretion as the better part of valor.

  22. Great story, Katie! Sounds like your mom is a quick thinker!

    I wouldn't mind knowing a few choice Italian nursery rhymes myself. Seems like them might come in handy ;-)

  23. Yes mom can be quick on the draw sometimes.

    If you go back through those Soprano episodes I bet you could string together some Italian nursery rhymes pronto. ;-)

  24. So true, Amber! I totally laughed out loud at your recap of squeezing 6 seasons of the Sopranos into 50 days...that's like some sort of weird assimilation project into an entirely new culture. Sounds like it worked!

    I have a similar situation in that a client of mine is a bit on the 'edgy' side...she's a Chef with a mouth like a sailor. I found myself blushing during our first meetings as the F bomb flowed like water. Fast forward 7 months and my vocab sure is different around her now! So much so, that my husband has noticed and suggested I tone it down a bit! :-)

    Good luck taming the profanity beast!

  25. You're right! It was like being embedded with my favorite crime family!

    Your chef story is interesting. It's amazing how easily we can pick up the traits of others sometimes, isn't it?

    I find that to be the case even with accents. I had a college friend from Texas who had a real twang. After a few weeks of us hanging out all the time, I had a twang, too!

    As for your profanity problem, sounds like your hubby would be smart to bring a swear jar into the house. Perhaps you'll pay for your next vacation in no time flat. :-)


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