Somehow, the former WWF superstar uttered one of the seven words you can’t say on TV on network television in the wee hours of the morning.
As a child, I knew that saying the word fuck was wrong. Saying any bad words were, well, bad. Hearing them had quite an effect as well. How else would I learn the basic bad words then graduate to compound curse words that involved shit, fuck or ass?
When I was five years old, I heard my dad call someone an asshole when they cut him off while driving. I didn’t know what that meant so I simply interpreted that you call someone that when something didn’t go your way.
The next day I tried using asshole for the first time. Some burly girl in our kindergarten class bumped me in line on our way back from lunch.
“You’re an asshole,” I blurted.
“Ohhhhhhhhhh,” she responded. “I’m going to tell the teacher on you!”
“For what?” I asked, very much confused.
“For what you said.”
I paid the price the following day. Instead of playing in the jungle gym and running around the playground, my ass had to sit on the bench.
That incident wasn’t my first run-in with profanity. In second grade, I witnessed a wrestling favorite of mine, Rowdy Roddy Piper, behaving badly.
I was an 8-year-old who was used to seeing Piper clash with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage and other titans of the wrestling world. One night I woke up around 3 a.m. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I made my way to the living room and turned on the TV. It was mostly infomercials, but channel 5 had a movie on.
A movie starring Rowdy Roddy Piper.
I found it weird that Piper was in a movie and not in a WWF ring. He strutted around in a dark film armed with guns. My wrestling hero wasn’t supposed to carry a gun. I watched it anyway, it was the last few minutes of the movie.
Piper was on a rooftop, aiming a gun at a woman while a helicopter hovered near them. The end result was shocking: Piper pointed a gun at some bizarre object and uttered, “Fuck it.”
What the fuck? Rowdy Roddy Piper wasn’t supposed to say fuck it. And at the end of the film he stuck out his middle finger. What was this chaos?
As I think back, how did network TV allow this to happen? Sure, it was 3 a.m., but what if second graders were watching? They would be exposed to fuck its, middle fingers and a topless female (yes, this happened at the end).
Of all the curse words I heard that middle of the night, one of the worst offenders of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on TV was shouted at the end of this film.
Those seven words are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.
With the exception of fuck and motherfucker, all of those other words have been said on network TV. Shit is a rare word to hear.
Back in Carlin’s time, movie characters didn’t yell obscenities at one another with the same frequency as modern films. The cussing in “Goodfellas,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Superbad” would have been unheard of.
It turns out this Piper movie was a John Carpenter film entitled “They Live.”
One of the funniest and cheesiest lines ever came from this movie when Piper walked into a bank with a shotgun and specialty sunglasses that allow him to see aliens. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass … and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
To this day, I still don’t know how “They Live” was aired unedited.
Oh, well, like Piper said, “Fuck it.”