But Mom-That’s What It’s Called!

June 3, 2011

Have you noticed the proliferation of popular book titles with words that once didn’t  circulate in “polite society”?  The latest that caught my eye is a humorous adult picture book called Go the F*** to Sleep! by Adam Mansbach, a “bedtime book for parents who live in the real world” according to Perseus Publishing.  I ordered a few copies recently.  Since there were two customers with the nerve to request this without lame asterisks like I’m using, I wasn’t about to refuse them.  Now, it seems this one might be taking off.

Last year, of course, there was virally popular Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern, and before that Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullsh*t (2005), which I think is where this trend kind of started.

Am I being overly skittish to wonder when this all became acceptable? When was the meeting of publishing execs who decided it’s OK to start labeling and marketing titles with swearwords?  Was Laura Bush consulted? It’s not that I’m against the use of such language in literature between the covers.  When everyone’s forced to use crude language just to reference a book clearly, though, it seems a bit invasive, as if designed to draw out the uncomfortable, squirming prudes among us and force them to distinguish themselves unnecessarily from the cool kids.


5 Responses to “But Mom-That’s What It’s Called!”

  1. Anne Says:

    It’s a funny line to draw, isn’t it? On a semi-related note, there are a number of bands these days with variations of the F-word in their name. F’ed up is my favorite, and I love them dearly, but still can’t say the name out loud to my 16-year old son (despite telling him he should listen to them).


  2. David Says:

    I also like how Best Seller lists are printed, depending on the nature of the publication. The New York Times will usually only give you an “F”, but the New Yorker will sometimes give you the first AND last letter. And please, a moment of pity for those of us who’ve had to enter these titles into inventory — if I change it to “Stuff My Dad Days”, will anyone be able to find it in our database?

  3. David Says:

    Well, no, they won’t find it with the typo! I meant “Stuff My Dad Says”…

  4. Jim McCluskey Says:

    Halpern’s @shitmydadsays started on Twitter which has a whole different set of expectations about appropriateness. @stuffmydadsays would still be funny, but not nearly as memorable, or as clear about content as @shitmydadsays, which pretty much let’s you know up front, this isn’t the kind of stuff Ward Cleaver told to Beaver.

    And BTW @shitmydadsays is still pretty darn funny, here’s a recent if somewhat tame tweet, “No. Aliens exist, I just don’t think they came millions of light years just to see earth. Be like driving 1000 miles to go to an Arby’s”.

  5. Darren Says:

    Great music and wise counsel all. I guess we blushers will all just have to get over it, then-thanks!

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