The Triumph Of The Vulgarians
Miley Cyrus's "Twerking" isn't edgy anymore.
Consider one of the Goldberg family’s favorite shows: Bravo’s Top Chef, in which the “cheftestants” compete in various culinary challenges for the title of — duh — top chef. Surely, a cooking show should be safe viewing for all ages. But for ten years running, the cast has cursed nonstop. Worse, the profanity isn’t really bleeped out, merely “bleeped at,” in the words of the New York Times.With tramps like Miley Cyrus wiggling her ass against men's crotches on television these days, it's probably hard to imagine that television networks used to block out Elvis Presley's wiggling pelvis.
In 2008, head judge Tom Colicchio rightly chastised the cast and posted an apology on the show’s website for all the “gutter language.” Nothing’s changed. Defenders of the cursing insist it reflects the reality of culinary culture. I’m sure that’s true. But journalistic accuracy is a pretty hypocritical defense for a show that has chefs making haute cuisine from vending machines amid egregiously staged product placements. (Also, the cursing is utterly gratuitous. I, for one, have never concluded a delicious meal with the exclamation, “Wow, the guy who made this must be really foul-mouthed!”)
And such hypocrisy gets at the core of the problem. Vulgarity has become cultural shorthand for everything from seriousness to rebelliousness to “keeping it real.” But it’s closer to the opposite.