I want a new cuss. I want something really spiteful, pernicious even. Thing is, I like “cunt”. It’s punchy, fun to say, succinct, brutal and hits like a mean hook. I really do enjoy throwing it out vehemently, but with all this behind it, it still doesn’t quite do enough for me to make it into my vernacular Rolodex. I resent the connotations of the ultimate evocation of hatred we can come up with being a slang for female genitals. I dislike that we’re imbuing the word with notions of weakness, timidity, inferiority. A vagina encapsulates none of those things, so for me the word doesn’t quite cut it. I want the word, the sound, I don’t want the meaning. This is no new argument, but neologisms are flooding the internet all the time. Can’t we come up with something more offensive, less gendered?
What would hurt to hear? That you were pathetic, worthless, unnecessary? If your death would be a positive development for the people around you? If you actively brought sorrow to those you interacted with? If even your family resented your existence? In the abstract, I like the notion of calling someone’s birth a waste of an orgasm, but it doesn’t hit like it needs to. It’s still far too comical. How could you distil that idea into a nasty four letter word? Hivemind, do your thing. The world needs this.
Why am I thinking about this in the first place? Well yesterday I was thinking about watching a film, but I couldn’t decide what to see. I realised that I never got around to watching True Grit all those years ago. I thought about how it had that young girl Hailee Steinfeld in it. I then recalled I never watched Beasts of the Southern Wild, which also starred a young actress, Quvenzhané Wallis. I then remembered The Onion’s infamous tweet and chuckled. I then remembered how there was the whole clusterfuck about the offensiveness of the tweet and tried to figure out where I stood on the whole thing. The tweet (so nobody has to go searching through the interwebs):
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?”
Obviously it’s offensive, it’s meant to be. Obviously calling a 9 year old girl a cunt is abhorrent if it was truly meant. It should be obvious though, that it wasn’t in any vicinity. It’s funny to me at least because it’s so far removed from any valid reality that could exist. You’re placing the most vicious insult onto the frame of someone who in no way could deserve it. She’s talented, enthusiastic and seems grateful for her success. Of course she isn’t a cunt, she’s a 9 year old who’d be more than hard pressed to assume any fault or blame for her actions. Even if she’d erred it’d be symptomatic of the people and environment that’d raised her. There’s no reason she would’ve been deserving of that level of vitriol. The sheer notion that she could is so far removed that to me, the intent of the tweet seems funny.
If for a second we remove the specific word and what it actually means, throwing the most offensive term possible at a fucking child is hilarious, because there’s no way it doesn’t just slide off harmlessly. How could it stick? There’s nowhere that the idea in reality would gain purchase. It’s got meta levels of Hollywood diva-ism and snark that are in every way pointed at the industry, not this child. It’s a pity the tweet couldn’t work out, but could it have if things were changed? If it was a young boy? I don’t think it really matters. If the word was asshole? Dick? Fucker? None of them work, they don’t have the sting that’s been associated. What if we changed the perspective? What if it was her calling the director, a fellow actor a cunt? If we directed the vitriol away from the victim, does the joke hold up? Children swearing is rarely not hilarious. Is that enough to make it work? That word though, the stigma is still attached. This is why I want a new word. I want something offensive to say that has nothing to do with gender, with sexuality. I want a word that debases someone’s entire existence, infused into a neat four letters. In a world where that could happen, maybe we could’ve kept this tweet.
Who knows? Who cares? Why am I still thinking about something that happened 2 years ago? First Revolver, now this. Where’s my head at?