Not Your Average Prom Queen: Does FCKH8 Go Too Far?
Whenever I’m really riled up in an argument I try to remind myself to control my voice and to avoid dropping F-Bombs. Yelling and swearing, I tell myself, are ways in which people who cannot smartly make points or communicate emotions make up for that lacking.
It’s not really that I have a problem with the words themselves; I swear in conversation or in my writing to emphasize a point or make a joke. However, in some situations, using “foul language” in anger can be aggressive, immature, demonstrate lack of control and often hamper communication. I can’t count the number of times I have been a part of an argument that has come to a screeching halt because one of the participants refuses to listen to a curse-laden diatribe. Most of us don’t react well to violence or aggressive language, especially those of us who have experienced it in the past.
Cursing is also often favored because its shocking and aggressive. It gets people attention. Ask any kid who has accidentally muttered “F*ck you” to a parent or older sibling because even young people are aware of how damaging those words can be. Language is power – and there is no doubt that foul language holds power – but what is the right way to wield that power?
What about GLBT Groups trying to harness that power to speak out about hate against gay people and bullying in schools? A friend of mine, who is a school teacher, sent me the link to a video which she had received from a student. It was an anti Bullying video from the FCKH8 Campaign. I wasn’t able to view to video on my phone due to some content restrictions, but when I eventually had a chance to watch it I found myself pretty turned off. I did a little research and found that at the end of March The Advocate reported that the FCKH8 campaign donated 300,000 dollars to GLBT Charities such as the Trevor Project. That’s awesome, but, as Davina Kotulski pointed out in January on Bilerico, “Is having children yell ‘fuck you’ to people who are against gay marriage on recorded video exploitative of children?” After thinking about it, that wasn’t the only question the campaign raised for me.
I am supportive of many movements that aim to “reclaim” opinions or terminology ABOUT minorities FOR minorities, but using angry and aggressive words to fight anger and aggression doesn’t work for me. The FCKH8 campaign has gained quite a bit of popularity, perhaps with young activists who believe that tooth and nail is the best way to reach equality, but there is also something to say for the desire of a minority group to reflect the morals and values that they desire others to exude toward them. In situations like this one, I tend to think that fighting fire with water is much more effective than fighting fire with fire.
Conversations and peaceful sit-ins don’t always move fast enough or even accomplished the desired goals at all, but creating an ad campaign promoting equality that can’t responsibly be taken into schools, churches, offices or family parties doesn’t do us a whole lot of good. If we can’t be proud of our message in front of our teachers, our pastors and our grandparents, how can we be proud at all? Our message needs to be sharable, mature and inclusive. To communicate an important point we should be using important language. I wouldn’t use the F-bomb in a business meeting, or making a hotel reservation, or explaining why I’m pro-choice or anti-death penalty. Why would I use it to help people understand gay rights? If President Obama appeared in the State of the Union address and said, “F*ck Terrorism,” would you be inspired or offended?
What do you think of these videos and this message?
You can view the FCKH8 FCK Bullies video here. Due to adult language you have to sign into YouTube and be at least 18 years old in order to view it, so it could not be embedded here. A powerful message for/by youth, restricted from youth? Something about that seems ineffective.
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