Archive for November, 2013

In Context Or?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I just received an email from the CEO of a domain name auction site. I had used the services of one of their competitors a year or two ago to try and sell a web site or two, albeit unsuccessfully and keep on their mailing list because they do send out interesting info from time to time and today I received this missive.

“Hey Perry,

We’ve got more kickass shit for you.

When XXX and I first started building niche sites we made a huge mistake. During keyword research, we accidentally targeted keywords by “Broad” instead of “Exact Match.”

Oops!  You can guess how that ended up…”

I read no further than the first line of copy. I replied to the CEO asking him if ‘kickass shit’ was working for him as it certainly put me off reading any further. So, am I an old geezer at 52 or someone who fails to see the value in using profanity to persuade people to buy whatever I am selling? Am I being over sensitive to a couple of words that are in pretty much widespread use, particularly in American society? I note Americans, despite many being openly homophobic, do seem to have a disturbing interest in other people’s buttocks. ‘Kickass’, ‘kick yo ass’, ‘own your ass’, ‘beat your ass’ and the telling, ‘your ass is mine’ spring to mind as being rather common dialogue choices both on the screen and in real life, if one differentiates between Hollywood and YouTube as source material providers. He replied pretty promptly:

Hey Perry,

I’m gangsta…what can I say? :-)

You’re right – we could probably avoid using such words in our copy, on our podcast, etc.  I’m not sure that would be a good idea, though.
Our thought/guess is that by using those words it helps us filter out readers/listeners that have a serious problem with it.  That’s fine…they probably wouldn’t be good customers for us anyway.

I wonder why those with a ‘serious problem’ wouldn’t be good customers? Is my problem serious? I’m not offended by the words themselves. I have used them in various combinations myself (although an ass to me is either someone behaving badly or a kind of donkey), though not usually in polite company and only in print when I firmly believed it would be appropriate and in context to do so. So is he using them in context? If so, what does that say about his client list, or at least his evaluation of those he markets to?

I am writing a novel at the moment where, like my previous novel, ‘Twenty Seven Seventy’, I ensure I use profanity sparingly and completely in context and avoid obscenity at all times. I do like writing obscenity though, I have to confess. I enjoy exploring the full, rich range of the Anglo-Saxon end of the English language and basically writing as many I know speak. But only when my audience is of a similar bent. When I write for a wider audience, especially minors, I keep it ‘language appropriate’. But then what does that mean these days and is a far more casual regard to the lexicon what the market accepts, even demands? What do you think?