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by Dina Gachman

Culture Rant

August 20, 2000

Ever heard the shrewd observation that goes something like this: "Most people talk a lot and have nothing to say"? Well, take a second, and apply this adage to the good old US of A. Imagine America , for just a second, as an awkward, insecure, but nonetheless fantastic-looking junior high school guy.

Close your eyes if you have to. OK, so this young, smart ass guy's already gone through the "rebellious phase" of sneaking out, stealing cars, shooting squirrels and other small animals with BB guns, etc. Now he's moving into the power jock phase, one foot in the mainstream, and his bravado's shifted to topics like cheating on exams, ridiculing the freaks and nerds, and going off about all the girls he's (never) screwed.

And our anti-hero talks - a lot. He blabbers incessantly, throwing out words for all to hear, but he's not saying anything. This is how I see America: a painfully verbose ex-rebel who can jack off like a champion, but he doesn't know how to shave yet. The Revolution's over (the Revolutionary War, not "the 60s"), and in its current state, America's looking good, but, this kid of a country is full of pent-up aggression and many, many over-inflated words is full of, well, tepid, but dangerous, air.

Look at the PC (politically correct, remember?) craze. America went nutty for PC, carefully changing the language so no one's offended, but who makes these things up anyway? Did Joe Buck from the fillin' station walk in and demand to be called a non-offensive name like "economically challenged"? I don't think so.

The PC craze was the country's attempt to band aid all of our social ailments, like racism, sexism, homophobia and the like. It was, for the most part, a gallant attempt, but a totally clueless one. It's like the junior high kid realizing, in secret, that saying things like "you fucking homo" won't get him the girl, so he curbs his lingo.

I definitely don't think everyone should go around saying loaded, offensive words to each other. If someone calls me a kike I'm not going to applaud them for their honesty. But does the alternative have to be so syrupy sweet and ridiculous? And does it have to be so damn serious?

Take Howard Stern. He's a great example of how to tweak language, to amp up its power. He's got his New York accent and hell-if-I-care opinions pushed right into the artery of America, right along that fine line between pop culture and NPR.

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