It is amazing how a phrase can emerge seemingly out of nowhere to become the statement du jour -- used, overused and ultimately abused. Last year, there was "low-hanging fruit" everywhere. Today, everyone's being "thrown under the bus."
Sometimes, it's just one word. "As a writer, you're always reaching for a more potent way to call somebody a jerk," Dan Harmon, the creator of the new NBC sitcom "Community" told The New York Times. In a surprisingly controversial front-page story Nov. 14, Times reporter Edward Wyatt tried to identify the zeitgeist by one hot "potent" word for jerk: "douche."
In total, the word has surfaced at least 76 times already this year on 26 primetime network series, according to research by the Parents Television Council, which compiled the statistics at the request of The New York Times. That is up from 30 uses on 15 shows in all of 2007 and just six instances on four programs in 2005.
Harmon explained: "This is a word that has evolved in the last couple of years -- a thing that sounds like a thing you can't say."
The word has "evolved" so much that the excuse-makers for trashy talk are suggesting that hip teens today don't even mean to toss the word in a vulgar way, since they probably don't even know the word's feminine-hygiene origins. Which raises the question: Then how would it "sound like a thing you can't say"? How would it have any naughtiness attached to it?
Bloggers and trashy gossip sites scolded The Times for using a scold like PTC in its story. One even implied The Times should hire its own staff to watch the five broadcast networks for nine months at a time to avoid any association with annoying pressure groups who scandalously fail to love all the vulgar words. But the story was another fascinating episode in Hollywood's ridiculous attempts to explain itself when this kind of raw data is exposed in the nation's most prestigious establishment newspaper.
When confronted by questions about D-word-employing shows in the "family hour" like her network's "The New Adventures of Old Christine," Nina Tassler, the president of CBS Entertainment, commented that the "family hour" was antiquated and CBS shows "merely reflect a different family dynamic."