Thursday, June 27, 2019

All those books with F*ck in the title are going to look timid someday

Eric Brunetti

      Before I had a blog, I had a name for a blog: It wasn't exactly an edgy name, but it wasn't bland either. Some people were offended by it, and at the start I felt obligated to explain the name, and that it was not only as a statement of purpose—there would be something new here every day, a lure in a time when web sites sat for long stretches, untended by their hosts—but a kind of filter. Not everything is for everyone, as Robert Crumb said, and if you don't like the name of the blog, that's a subtle hint that you won't like the writing either, and maybe you should take your business elsewhere and, please, don't let the door hit in you in the ass on your way out.
     It isn't so much that I'm a fan of obscenity, per se, so much as I like to have as many arrows in my writer's quiver as possible. I also like to explore the full range of topics. The post exploring Amy Winehouse's use of the word "Fuckery" in "Me & Mr. Jones" is one of my more popular among readers.
     So I have to note with pleasure that the United States Supreme Court on Monday took the government out of the trademark vetting business, striking down a federal law forbidding the registration of "scandalous" or "immoral" trademarks.
    Just the words "scandalous" and "immoral" have a fusty, 19th century butter churn and coal scuttle bonnet feel to them in this era where the president of the United States is a vile rapist and Russian catspaw married to an East European stripper, a leader who describes our impoverished neighbors as "shitholes." . Compared to that, how can a clothing line called "FUCT"—which prompted the case—be considered anything but trite?
     I distinctly recall walking through the first floor of Macy's and seeing "FUCT" on lucite panels six feet high. (Though in my memory, it stood for "French Union Clothing Trade" or some such thing, and not "Friends U Can't Trust," which was the trademark Los Angeles artist Erik Brunetti tried and failed to trademark in 2011, setting the case in motion.
      I remember thinking that we'd come a long way from ladies in white gloves serving tea in the Walnut Room, but also that there was something twee and disingenuous about the fake explanation of the acronym. It seemed vaguely insulting.
     So now we see what the market will bear. Will Whole Foods start selling tubes of Cunt Salve? I somehow doubt it, as we need to keep certain words in reserve to express our more extreme moments.  If we have a six-pack of Fuck Cola in the fridge, what will we say when we hit our thumbs with a hammer?
      The unspoken irony in all this is that, in our age of internet behemoths, it's going to matter less-and-less what the government permits or forbids, and more-and-more what the online corporate overlords allow. The government letting you to sell Cocksucker Lollipops won't matter much if Facebook won't post your ad and Amazon won't sell them.
     Though, if there's money to be made, not much risk of that.
     Whatever happens, we'll get used to it. My old friend, the New Yorker cartoonist Robert Leighton, once wrote a whimsical piece for the National Lampoon—not available online, alas—about how the word "fuck" will become a daily part of ordinary commercial communication, starting, if I recall, with a newspaper mistakenly publishing a play reviewer's enthusiastic immediate response, "fucking fantastic" or some such thing, and ending with cheese-flavored Pepperidge Farm Fuck-a-Ducks. I'd buy those, for the name alone, and that probably means we'll see that kind of thing on store shelves sooner than later.


  1. In the matter of "Iancu, ... Director, Patent and Trademark Office v. Brunetti", Trump played a roll. Both his Supreme Court nominees sided with the majority, ruling against the government's position.
    KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, GINSBURG, ALITO, GORSUCH and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. ALITO, J. filed a concurring opinion. ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, J., filed opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BREYER, J.,joined.
    So far Gorsuch has been doing a good job of supporting our Constitution, the Bill of Rights in particular.

  2. There's a 2007 Canadian movie titled "YPF", the original title was "Young People Fucking". Having seen it, it was awful, never really lived up, or down, to the title, despite the sex & nudity.

  3. You my friend are on a roll. What are you looking for trouble?

  4. Cunt Salve? My first wife attended one of those "female sex products" parties...a lot like a Tupperware party...almost forty years ago. Her roommate hosted it, so it was in her own townhouse. Among the items for sale was something labeled "Penis Butter"...maybe the salve and the butter could be sold together in a twin-pack...or as a BOGO offering.

  5. And on that note, I am striving (somewhat) to overcome my penchant for robust and colorful swearing on a regular basis. And just listening in the car to old Firesign Theater stuff, my new oath will be "What the Duck?"

    Trying to straddle offensive/edgy/odd in my days.

  6. I think you're recalling the FCUK clothing line.

    1. I had black framed glasses with FCUK in white letters on the temples. Many people did double-takes when they saw it, and quite a few were appalled that I would have "that word" on my glasses. It was pretty amusing. Said a lot about those people that read it wrong.


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