Have swear words become a part of the vernacular?

I find it very chilling when a dance student of mine has complete knowledge of adult swear words. Many times, I will explain to a kid that these particular words do not belong in our dance class. And it baffles me that I even have to address this problem when parents should be in charge of this. Words and phrases that are generally censored in our public media have somehow made their way into the brain of an 11-year old. When I was about that age, it was absolutely FORBIDDEN in my family to swear. My parents didn’t even accept “Shut up” as an exclamation. Looking back, I feel as though it helped me understand the meaning behind the word/phrase so that if I really did need to use it, it would be for an appropriate reason. But that wasn’t even until I was in my teens.

It begs the question that maybe swear words have lost their intensity? Maybe, these words and phrases have no meaning anymore and are similar to the way we use the word “the”. If that is the case, we should probably do more to make sure children are aware of the definitions of these curse words so that they can use them properly. Right? I mean, you wouldn’t want a kid to be calling another one a… nevermind.

Pop songs are generally targeted to a specific audience with the interests of the listener in mind. When Eminem raps about being a young father, he wants to reach out to the 20-somethings that deal with similar experiences. But, he uses swear words A LOT. Currently, I am very interested in this kind of expression because when I am with my friends, we use swear words to liberate ourselves. It’s f**king awesome. However, I didn’t particularly listen to Eminem until I became the age of his target audience and I think that was because my parents refrained from playing those songs. I am not saying every household should be doing this, but I recognize that young kids are not able to relate to mature songs. Their concept of sex and alcohol is very different, having less experience with it. So, if they are learning from the music they listen to, it will change the way they speak. I find myself having to always find a “clean” version of Top 40 Songs to play in my dance classes and that saddens me. Where did the innocence go? Are my students being influenced by music that is making them age too quickly?

It is important to realize that the words children hear can be interpreted however they choose. Ultimately, it would be impossible to censor everything but we should do our part as role models and think about how we use our words.

Calm down, it’s pride.

This Sunday, I had a horrible temper waking up. I was even annoyed with the sunshine. I turned on my robot mode and did everything I had to do that day without enjoyment. There was only a job to do rather than moments of living. Who wants to live like they’re working everyday?

Then it suddenly dawned on me. It’s pride here in Toronto. I was reminded of this by groups of people wearing neon colours, flower power-invested outfits, and holding peace signs up for photos. And I suddenly remembered I’m so lucky to live in an era where LGBTQ2+ is celebrated, not ridiculed or criminalized. Our generation has accepted people’s preferences and that is something to smile about. That is something to live freely about and not let the monotonous pace of working a job hold you back.

Seeing heterosexual parents bring their families to normalize the stigma is absolutely something to smile about. They didn’t use to be a time and place for discussion, at least in my household there didn’t happen to be, so it makes me feel happy inside to know that there won’t be a discomfortable tension about topics like sexual preference, gay marriage, etc.

What a nice time to be alive. Never thought I’d say that again. Huh. Nice.

Why The Try Guys are exactly the channel we need right now.

I heard about The Try Guys when I saw a BuzzFeed video featuring guys contouring their boobs. Naturally, I was convinced that it was some kind of joke, but I clicked and was excited to see adult males being open to trying new things. This is what I’ve been wanting from YouTube. I’ve been watching every video that these four guys make since then and I couldn’t be more satisfied. This is what we NEED to be watching and it mostly has to do with the level of representation on this channel. Take a read.

Firstly, this group of men is 3/4 white. This comes across as being not diverse when you look at the stats, but it is completely okay in the context of their brand. Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, and Zach Kornfeld are three white men who frequently comment on how bland they are. They want to learn about certain topics that would usually go in the hands of coloured people and I think that is perfectly legitimate. If our society is dominated by white men who stereotypically live through their day, we aren’t making any progress. It is awesome to see white men trying to change the racial norms that currently stagger us. Examples of these videos would be when they try K-Pop, cosplay, BDSM and more. 

Looking at sexually orientation, again, it is three-quarters straight. When the men discuss topics like fashion or body image, it is clear that they look to Eugene Yang, the one racially-diverse and queer member of the group for guidance. Eugene helps to tie up all the loose strands when it comes to videos that need representation of all groups. He offers insight of what it actually feels like to be from a minority group so that it doesn’t just look like the other men are making fun of these topics. For example, on December 7 2014, BuzzFeedVideo uploaded “The Try Guys Try Drag For The First Time”. We see the process that these men go through of getting tucked, putting on full face make-up and working the runway—all things that many gay men are doing for a living. With help from professional drag queens, The Try Guys learn about this intense kind of job with complete openness. Videos like these and many others help to break the stigma of who can appreciate drag and why it doesn’t have to be labeled as “a gay thing”.

Now, it is true that they are all men. This wouldn’t seem acceptable in the context of today’s MeToo movement, but like I mentioned before, it is part of the brand they are trying to put out. They want other men like them to experience what women go through including labour, fashion expectations, and even boob weights. In my opinion as a woman, they do a really great job of trying to make it an authentic experience. Kudos to them! 

All the other videos that they produced and continue to create take from all aspects of society and politics. Keith, Zach, Ned and Eugene keep the internet from being one-sided and narrow-minded by simply trying new things. It really doesn’t require a lot of effort to go into a new experience with the mind-set that it could be the best experience of their lives. We are all allowed to be whomever we want, and try whatever we want. This is why I am grateful this channel exists on YouTube and I hope more people gravitate to their videos. 

Current Sexual Harassment “Trend”

I’ve been really pondering the sexual harassment “trend”¹ that we have been hearing about. Instead of being mad at the accused persons, I want to acknowledge the intense psychological impacts that are brought onto the victims and all victims of assault. Here’s goes:
Artists are the best kinds of people. Sorry, but it’s true.
1) If you ask an artist what their favourite song is, usually they will answer with, “I like all music.”
2) If you ask an artist to create something, it will never be produced half-heartedly.
3) If you tell an artist that they are not good enough to be an artist, they will most likely agree with you and will refrain from bragging about their accomplishments because have no brain capacity to do so.
4) If you were to walk up to an artist on the street, you will find that your first impression of them is that they are not a copy of someone else.
5) If you question an artist on their beliefs or values, they won’t question yours in return. 6) If you admire an artist, in all honesty, they probably admire you as well.
Thus, with all these statements I have made, the proof lies in my own relationships with other artists. A very impressive mentor of mine is Linda Garneau, and she clarifies the first and second statement with ease. The next statement, having to do with selflessness, reminds me of two people: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julie Andrews. Further down, my good friend Kaelin Isserlin is a perfect example of someone who dresses and acts like a unique version of a human.² Statement #5 is close to my heart because when I work with certain dancers as a choreographer, I feel comfortable to create and analyze movements in a safe space. I hope that they feel the same when working with me.
The last statement has been on my mind recently, as we hear from famous actors, producer, directors, writers, dancers, singers, performers, etc (!!) about their experiences of sexual assault. If you are a true artist in you blood and soul, you would NEVER take advantage of other artists’ feelings or body. As a community, our goal as artists has been to nurture the sadness and doubt that comes with this form of expression and to push all that pain aside to grab at the hearts (and p*ssies) of other humans is just NOT fair. It brings out the dark side of Hollywood, and shows the faithful audience that making art isn’t safe anymore.
It makes me not want to be an artist. I don’t want to pursue a risky career such as Entertainment/Performance if I am destined to be treated in a indecent way. Get those circumstances out of sight from young artists.
The lesson we can gain… Teach your children, nieces/nephews or students that treating others like objects to utilize for fun is never acceptable in society. We have a vital job as a generation to put this behaviour to extinction. Now is the time.
¹I use the word trend so very carefully because it is not to say that sexual harassments are trendy in a popular kind of way. I use it to explain the frequency of sexual harassment cases popping up recently in our daily news.
²More posts about these fascinating influences in my life will come. Stay tuned.