Fucking Businessweek

A special bonus post. This was something that occurred to me while I was working on the Hyperloop post. I tried to fit it in, but it just wasn’t working, so you get it as a side dish.

I was a bit startled to see that Businessweek quoted Elon Musk’s use of the word “fucking” in full.

I’ll grant that Businessweek isn’t exactly a staid, stogy venue. I’ll even grant that this was on the web rather than in print, but it still surprised me.

It turns out though, that this isn’t the first time that word has appeared under their title. Quite the contrary, in fact. A check via Google shows over 14,000 hits for “fucking” on businessweek.com.

I did a quick sampling to get a sense of how many of those hits are in reader comments as opposed to actual articles, and came up with about a 50/50 split. I suspect that’s skewed, but even if we assume it’s 90% reader comment, that’s still a lot of fucking going on in Businessweek.

Am I really that far out of the loop, or does this surprise anyone else? Has the word really lost that much of its power to shock?

Where’s it going to turn up next? The New York Times (6,190 hits)? USA Today (1050 hits)? The Wall Street Journal (572 hits)?

Sigh.

People, can we raise the level of discourse just a smidgeon? Please?

8 thoughts on “Fucking Businessweek

  1. SO tempting to say something rude, here, because it’s clear I can. Resisting temptation, like the gentleman I try to be, I’ll just say that “the ‘F’ word” appeared in the urbane and understated pages of “The New Yorker”, a few years ago. It was startling at first. It is not difficult to imagine William Shawn’s response to the word appearing in any form, in a submission. Life has gone on- a perplexing phenomenon to those of us who believe that Western Civilization is preserved, almost singlehandedly, by The New Yorker’s resistance to change. Personally, I consider resorting to language of that sort (in print, anyway), a failure of imagination; there are certainly better ways to provide emphasis. In the case of Businessweek, it’s just another marker in the ongoing collapse of civil society- a collapse, I must say, to which many readers of the publication have been contributing for decades, with their rapacious business practices- but, that’s another rant. Thank you.

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    • It is pretty much the most emphatic modifier you can use. I don’t necessarily object to its use in print, but it does seem overused. There’s probably also a rant about the overuse of superlatives lurking in this discussion.

      PS to all: It would be hypocritical of me to ask y’all to restrain your language in any comments on this post. I do ask that you consider this an exception, though, and try to keep things generally safe for all audiences outside of this post.

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  2. Am I surprised? No. Has the word lost its shock value? Yes. A few years ago, a reader asked why I needed to drop (an occasional) F-bomb in my novels, and my answer was that that’s what would’ve come out of certain characters’ mouths at certain junctures in the story. I told him I could walk along sidewalks in Seattle, and hear volleys of F-bombs, as if being shot from verbal uzis. He looked shocked, and said he had never heard a single F-bomb on the streets of his home town…which happened to be New York City. No further comment needed.

    As to your closing request, I guess I brung you up right, I did. For the readers of this blog: Casey’s mother and I told him and his sister they were free to use any word they wanted, anywhere, any time, so long as they knew what it meant. The first time I heard Casey drop the F-bomb, I asked him what it meant, he told me, I said OK, and it was rare, very rare, thereafter Ithat heard another. The outstanding exception in my mind was when he was moving to Texas, pulling a trailer, and the transmission went out and stranded him on a doorstep somewhere on the Oregon Coast. Casey called and said he was going to junk the car and rent a truck, whereupon I had the temerity to suggest he might have the transmission repaired. His answer: “Dad, I’m not pulling that fucking trailer one more mile” was spoken in a tone perfect for the content. The kid always has used words well, and with proper respect.

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    • No matter how much I try, I shall never be able to forget that trip, capped off as it was riding through the redwoods in the cab of a tow truck pulling the car with the trailer still attached.

      Damn trailer also did in the car’s shocks, which meant a couple of hours sitting at a service station near the Grand Canyon.

      I still maintain that it was all U-Haul’s fault. Their instructions were to put the heaviest items in first at the front, rather than balanced over the axle. Let that be a lesson to you all: don’t assume that someone is competent in a field just because that field is the core of their business…

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      • I think U-Haul also reckoned without your mother’s preternatural packing abilities. I still remember the looks on the faces of the folks at Atlas Van Lines as we started unpacking (and unpacking and unpacking) the trailer — after they’d already signed off on a quote based on what they thought it could hold.

        U-Haul’s packing instructions weren’t the only good advice to afflict us on that trip. The guy who replaced Gil’s transmission noted that the new automatic transmission fluid (conscientiously added in deference to some “preparing your car for long trips” guidance) had a detergent effect that may have dissolved the crud that had been holding the transmission together…

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      • Ah, yes. “If you had just not done proper maintenance, you would have been fine.” Also known as “You can’t win.”

        It was an adventure that–in retrospect–I’m glad we had. Sure wasn’t much fun at the time, but it’s a source of humor we can mine for decades.

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