Watching the Times attempt to cover profane bands, songs, and social phenomena without offending their august readership by actually using profanity remains a great joy of ours, so it is with great happiness that we announce that they’ve finally weighed in on… a certain song. By Cee Lo. Very popular on the Internet recently. You know the one:
The singer is peeved at a girl who has left him and concludes that “If I’d been richer, I’d still be with ya” and though “there’s pain in my chest, I still wish you the best …” followed by a certain crude phrase, and an “ooh, ooh, ooh.”
OH YOU MEAN “FUCK YOU.” Yes, under the headline “A Hit Song on YouTube, Unnameable on the Radio,” here are 1,078 words, 11 of which are “you,” none of which are “fuck.” Radio stations can only play it in its sadly neutered “Forget You” iteration, is the gist. Hilarious. But the New Yorker‘s news blog (!) takes umbrage, running down the paper’s long history of linguistic gymnastics and chastising it for such prudeishness:
Times reporters’ ingenuity in curse avoidance is usually guaranteed to bring almost as big a smile to my morning commute as their contortions in describing a source’s reasons for requesting anonymity. But I got much more pleasure from Cee-Lo’s exuberantly profane song than from Cohen’s playfully indirect disquisition on it. Even though I grew up in a home where mouths were washed out with soap as a punishment, it was more than just Cee-Lo’s transgressiveness. (On repeat viewing, I counted sixteen “fuck”s, as well as ten “shit”s, two “ass”es, and–a taboo of a different sort, but one respected by and much discussed in the Times–two “nigga”s.) It’s the counterpoint between the words of a spurned lover and Cee-Lo’s chipper, churchy falsetto over uplifting throwback R. & B. His rage is gleeful, honest, maybe even redemptive. The Times, meanwhile, is indirect, impotent–and delusional.
A proposal: How about the Times start using the word “fuck,” and the New Yorker stop styling it “R. & B.”