Profanity and Language Play (Blog Post 2 of 3)

On September 13, 2010, the BP Public Relations fake Twitter account(@bpglobalpr) tweeted:
“Someone told us @KanyeWest gave a toast to us last night. It’s nice
to be appreciated Mr. West. #bpstreetcred”

This tweet is referring to Kanye West’s song “Runaway,” in which he sings:

“So I think it’s time for us to have a toast
Let’s have a toast for the douchebags
Let’s have a toast for the assholes
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast for the jerk-offs
That’ll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Runaway fast as you can”

What do you think is Kanye West’s objective in excessively using profane words with the same meaning in his lyrics? Keep in mind Pinker’s discussion of euphemism (making something sound better) and dysphemism (making something sound worse) in your response.

(Visited 153 times, 1 visits today)
This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Profanity and Language Play (Blog Post 2 of 3)

  1. shmannybumbah says:

    Kanye West is being ironic in his words. He is basically saying that everyone that hates him is stupid. He is naming all the people that have hurt him, or dislike him, and saying, “Let’s have a toast to them.” It’s kind of like he’s saying, “I really don’t care that you dislike me, you suck. I’ll make a toast to you being terrible.” This is similar to Mayor Emanuel’s fake account because it is a type of mockery. @mayoremanuel is not Rahm Emanuel’s real account, but it expresses emotions that he may be feeling. It’s funny because everyone has an inner monologue they wish others could hear. Twitter allows us to express this as long as it is written in 140 characters or less. Mayor Emanuel’s account is notoriously obscene and inappropriate—the public likes that. That is why Kanye West added in those lyrics to his song. Not only does he get back at those who have hurt him, but he’s also pertaining to his general audience.
    I have done things like that before; you have a bad day, or maybe someone hurts you and you are frustrated and can’t get them off your mind. Your best bet is to mock it in some way to ease the pain.
    A great example of this inappropriate angst-like mockery would be, “Let’s have a toast to the people behind the bomb threats; I hope they find you and hurt you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. #fuckbombs”

  2. blogposter2012 says:

    I think that by using excessive profane words Kanye West is doing what Pinker may call dysphemism and abusive swearing. He is using the curse words to give a poetic ring to his song. This is actually the only part of the song that I know which I find interesting because it shows that although there is profanity at the end of every line this repetition is actually working for Kanye and not against him. As shmannybumbah pointed out Kanye is giving a toast to everyone who may have hurted him and uses the curse words to “express his inner monologue”. This is dysphemism swearing because it goes beyond a point of politeness but instead is calling out each individual and ridiculing them.
    Music is a form of self- expression, which I think that Kanye makes clear in this section of his song. I also think that twitter, facebook or blogs are a form of self-expression. Yet, I sometimes think that celebrities or people with some sort of fame or authority are made to put on a show and hide their use of self-expression. In the fake Rahm Manuel twitter account so people referred to it as being a “caricature “of Rahm. It’s a caricature because we would not expect the real Rahm Manuel to use curse words or appeal to a young audience which is what twitter seems to be made of. I wonder how presidents or mayors would be perceived if they openly cursed in public as Kanye West does.

  3. jay_leu says:

    I agree with blogposter2012, who states, “I think that by using excessive profane words Kanye West is doing what Pinker may call dysphemism.” I believe that Kanye is using obscene words as a means to grab the audience’s attention. Through my own personal experience, I have observed that people are more accustomed to pay attention to things of vulgar natures. Vulgarity often results in feelings of tension and conflict, both of which humans seem to have a strange fascination with. By continuously using obscene words, I think Kanye was hoping to draw attention to the true meaning of his lyrics.
    First off, I would like to point out that in my opinion, Kanye’s use of words, such as “douchebags, assholes, scumbags, and jerk-offs” within this song is merely sarcastic. If you recall, just a year prior to the release of this song Kanye was seen on national television making a rude comment to Taylor Swift as she was on stage receiving an award at the VMAs. As a result, he was criticized by the public for his actions, and was often equated with negative terms including the ones aforementioned. I think by implementing these profane words within his song, Kanye is actually poking fun at himself. He realizes that he previously messed up, and therefore uses self-deprecation to evoke laughter within his audience and hopefully gain some sort of redemption.