The Onion Takes a Stab at The F-Word

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Last month, I wrote a lengthy post in response to South Park’s The F-Word episode. Siding with GLAAD, I offered that South Park’s overuse and attempted desensitization of “faggot” did not rise to a level of satire that made it obvious enough that such a word cannot be desensitized and still has hurtful ramifications for the gay community.

The Onion LogoYesterday, The Onion, experts in satire, took their own turn at attempting to uncover the inherent damage the word causes by blatantly and unabashedly using it. The short Onion article uses the f-word half as many times as the half-hour South Park episode, so the effect is even more concentrated. But where the South Park episode fell short of using the vehicle of satire to make its point, I think the Onion succeeds.

I encourage you to read it. It addresses the word well. It shows how the word is used because of insecure masculinity and conformity to patriarchal values. It demonstrates how even though people don’t use the word to always mean male homosexuals, that is exactly who it hurts. And it does in fact hurt both physically and emotionally—that is the intention of the word. It also does a good job of belittling people who use it. It’s truly wonderful satire.

Here are a few highlights:

Perhaps the most crucial faggot determinant is whether the person in question is clearly not a member of our group or party and we do not recognize him. This rule is applicable in almost every situation, from a sporting event, to a crowded bar, to a McDonald’s parking lot, to a moment in which we are feeling not entirely secure in our masculinity. It is a good rule, and may be applied liberally.

You always have to be on the lookout. It’s a fun self-fulfilling insecurity!

To be clear, I am not referring to male homosexuals—although they certainly count as faggots and are probably among the most faggoty of all the faggot categories. I am speaking of that most nefarious breed of know-it-all mama’s boys who think they’re better than you and threaten to destroy the comforting self-image you’ve spent your whole life constructing to conceal your deepest fears and vulnerabilities.

Even if you’re not talking about a homosexual faggot, homosexuals are still the faggotiest faggots. That makes sense.

After making it known to the faggot that he is a faggot, our task is essentially done. He will likely retreat homeward, in tears, made newly aware of what a faggot he actually is, and that he should, unless he’s a total faggot, stop being such a faggot immediately.

Noooo, “faggot” is not a hurtful word at all!

If you are a faggot, you should shut your fucking mouth and stay out of the way of non-faggots such as myself.

Because we don’t have the time or the inclination to deal with your shit, you stupid fucking weak-ass fag. So fuck off, faggot, and go back to faggot-land where you belong.

I don’t know if GLAAD will issue a statement about this article, but if they do, I hope they give it more credit than the South Park episode. Instead of ineffectively downplaying the word, The Onion reveals it for all its hurtful potential.

After I posted my blog about the South Park episode, I had a number of arguments with other gay folks who don’t think it’s a big deal. Some even went so far as to call me a fag in their defiant (and in my opinion, foolhardy) attempt to redefine or reclaim or desensitize the word through its overuse. I really felt disrespected by their insensitivity, and stand by my understanding of how the word impacts society.

It’s an ugly word, and there isn’t a way to use it that isn’t hurtful. I commend The Onion for not trying to sugarcoat the term in their satire. I still worry about the ignoramuses who will read it and think it sounds great. The last thing I want to do is use the word and thus suggest that it’s okay to do so.

I read enough hate crime, bullying, and suicide stories as it is, thanks.

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