Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cougars and MILFs and Man-boobs, OH MY!

About 15 years after a supposedly "funny" slang term becomes popular, and about five years after it stops being used, it makes its way onto crap shows like Morning Joe. Outdated slang is the last refuge of the stiff news anchor.

Slang has always existed, but I submit that many of these modern "funny" slang words are plagues particular to our age.

Back in the '50s, what were camel toes called? They were probably called what the hell is wrong with you stop gawking at my crotch! They did not generate four-page articles in Cosmo. If you'd gone around chatting about camel toes you would have been regarded as a pervert, not the "funny guy" at the party.

How about moobs/man-boobs? Old pictures make it seem like moobs were less common, but still, they existed. And back then men were almost always dressed up. There were far fewer clothing choices; men didn't get to lounge around in comfy jumpsuits and the plus size concept didn't exist. What this means is that 1950s man-boobs must have been flapping freely. But evidently people didn't feel the need to turn them into conversation pieces. Not true today: just last week I saw an anchor on a financial news show discussing his "moobs."

I think the word MILF was a turning point. I was surprised how quickly that grew from meathead lingo for 20-year-olds to accepted mainstream "witticism." It appears that once MILF was embraced by people over 30, all bets were off. The floodgates opened, and suddenly it was far less stigmatized for an adult to utilize high school banter. Now the virus has spread to where ostensibly serious outlets like CNN sound like they're using graffitied bathroom stalls as teleprompters.

Of course crass slang has always existed. It was called locker room talk. That name tells you all you need to know; it was reserved for the locker room, not political talk shows. So while (much milder) terms like sugar daddy may have been in circulation, they weren't to be found in the New York Times*. Today much more juvenile slang than sugar daddy permeates all corners of the media, and as a consequence, standard conversation. Hard to see this as a win for society. There is a difference between having a youth culture and having almost no part of the culture that is strictly for adults.

When it comes to things like camel toes, they don't ignore them like they used to.


I bet another catalyst is that there is simply so much more media these days - digital world, 24-hour television -, which creates a need for so much more content people resort to the lowest common denominator of the lowest common denominator just to fill space.

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