Home > Musings on diversity > George Carlin Would Have Had no Career in Japan

George Carlin Would Have Had no Career in Japan


For some reason or other, some folks on the radio were talking about George Carlin, perhaps best known for his bit called the “7 Words You Can’t Say on TV”. George was fascinated with the power of words and how a word like ‘cock’ could be perfectly ordinary and in a barnyard context and send censors scurrying for their bleepers in another.

This reminded me of a conversation I once had with my cousin, who was a pretty good Japanese speaker in his day (and still holds his own – should he happen to read this blog) about the fact that you can pretty much say anything you want on Japanese television – there being no list like Carlin’s, of prohibited words. He (my cousin) decided to test my theory by trotting out every offensive and ‘dirty’ word he could think of in Japanese – ain’t it strange that obscenities are almost inevitably the first words a new immigrant learns . . . maybe it’s only the people I hang out with – and I weighed them in my mind, turned them over, and assured him that ‘yep, you can say that on Japanese TV’. Truth to tell, I have never heard the ‘beep’ of a censored word on Japanese TV – something you hear all the time on TV in North America.

Lenny Bruce used to do bits where he would take offensive words, like the ‘n’ word (don’t have the courage to even type it in this blog for fear of offending someone . . . everyone) and repeat them and roll them around his mouth until they became nothing more than nonsense syllables, robbed of their power to hurt and offend.

The work I do with the DMIS (Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity) has trained me to look at the things that push my buttons, including language and to look within myself for the source of my response. I’ve found that if I take a second to stifle my knee-jerk reaction and look deeper into what is actually causing my knee to jerk, I find that what used to cause my blood pressure to sore and often resulted in angry confrontation (or worse, stifled anger with its resulting frustration and stress) is not worth even a second thought.

Categories: Musings on diversity
  1. Nick Carefoot
    12 January 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Carlin started clean so if he began in Japan he would have just been a people pleaser to the grave. Its the LSD, DMT and peyote that made him go beardy counter-culture.

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