Gene-Gene made a machine -- it seems
At first I thought I had misheard the flatulent episode, but then reference was made to it. I was astonished. When did we cross the ‘breaking of wind’ barrier in the sitcom world? Mary Richards never once farted in all the years of Mary Tyler Moore; even crusty and crude old Archie Bunker, who might have made reference to an accidental expulsion of flatus, never actually did the deed, nor was it ever referred to by it’s basic name. In the sitcom I watched, it was. The guy actually said, with a satisfied grin: “Hey, did you fart?”
I know that television programming has become increasingly basic over the years, and some of that is good. But I must ask, where is the crudity bar? Do we need to know about people’s bowel activities in order to find humor?
I guess in a way a body would have to blame Mel Brooks with Blazing Saddles. Everybody remembers the cowboys eating the beans scene, and the violent eruptions that ensued following the repast. But, that was Mel Brooks. He’s able to handle that sort of thing with a certain élan. Men thought it was funny. Women of the day thought it was disgusting.
But, I guess the times do a-change. I mean, my mother thought that even the word ‘fart’ was, if not exactly profane, crude enough that it wasn’t to be used in polite company – like around her home. I don’t think it was until I was married for the first time that I was even aware that females too, inadvertently of course, could ‘let one go.’ Young girls, when I was growing up probably left themselves wide open to all sorts of intestinal distress by holding back the wind at all times.
Fart humor is, of course, part of the general realm of ‘potty humor’, all of which is considered to be extremely juvenile. Children love fart jokes, and pooping jokes, and peeing jokes. The assumption is that we grow past that and find our humor elsewhere, like with sex.
So, I can only imagine that this retrograde humor ties in with an item I read concerning a Midwestern college in which the students in certain fraternities and sororities have taken up a fad in which the loser in a competition must wet his or her pants. They even film each other and post the clips on You tube. Now, this is truly reversion to the basics of juvenile incontinence.
Now, these are college kids, you understand. These are potentially our leaders of tomorrow, the crème of the intellectual de la crème. What the hell is this all about?
When I was in my late teens and early 20s I was desperate to be taken for an adult in all my endeavors. I had to learn to drink scotch neat, discuss the writings of Camus and Sartre (even when I hadn’t read them), and take up various causes to make the world a better place. I also wanted to be intimate with sophisticated ladies and chat somebody up in a nice piano bar with cool jazz riffs playing in the background. I no longer wanted to tell fart jokes.
Anyway, this isn’t so much a judgment call as an observation about how the concept of shame no longer seems operative. Maybe it’s better. But, somehow I don’t think so. I’ll still take the jazz in the piano bar.