We’ve come a long way from censorship.
Though we may have forgotten there used to be a time when exercising our freedom to speak was not as forthcoming as it is today, it seems that since, we’ve taken the notion of “freedom” a bit too literally.
“I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that is bullshit.”
– Mel Brooks
When I was a kid, my father used to say, “il taut tourner sa langue sept fois dans sa bouche avant de parler”, which roughly translates into “think before you speak”. Today, thinking is no more. What’s worse is that the current age of media is a spectacle of overbidding vulgarity.
Not so long ago, people were shocked by Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMA. I have not seen it, but I’ve surely heard about it, and it begs the question: was this widespread state of shock real, or was it, in fact, disingenuous? Can we still, as a society, be appalled by anything? Hasn’t a long line of escalating scandals made us numb by now? Do we merely express outrage because we feel we should?
Cyrus isn’t the only example of gratuitous obscenity to which we’ve been made witness, although not all who have had similar behaviours misguidedly declared they were “about to make history”. At some point in history, however, similar demonstrations used to pave the way to a Sexual Revolution, trailblazing a change in standard practices. Today, in the Western world, the new way of thinking pushed forth by these previous generations is the norm, so what is it that we are still ‘fighting’ for?
This brings forth a more important question: has freedom of speech turned into a giant wasteland for vulgarity?
If I am allowed to say whatever I want, if I can cuss and use a large array of profanities, does it mean that I should? Am I free because I can show as much skin as I want and fuck any guy that strikes my fancy? We’re so drunk on freedom; it has left our judgement impaired. Now is the time to carefully ponder: when will we have had enough of this aimless freedom, when will it start serving us, rather than make us its fools? When will we start using freedom in a way that serves a purpose higher than entertaining the lowest common denominator? Because I ask you: if the larger part of contemporary media doesn’t address its regurgitation to the likes of me, who then does it cater to?
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”
– David Foster Wallace
But can we pause long enough to remember it?