Ezy Reading

Evan Kanarakis

The 'controversial' documentary 'The Aristocrats' will open in wider release this week across the United States to the kind of uproar and dissent I'm sure most Americans are getting used to.

In their film Paul Provenza and comedian Penn Jillette (of 'Penn and Teller' fame) recorded the telling of one very dirty joke, as told by a hundred comics on stage. It's a well-crafted view into the often rarely appreciated craft of comedy, and the brilliance of these stand-up story tellers who, with the basic tools and essentials of a single set-up and punch-line, are each able to create their own vastly different 'and hilarious' versions of the one joke.

Naturally, and in quite typical fashion of late, there has indeed been an incredible amount of hot air fuss cast over the release of the documentary, and indeed the AMC Theatre chain announced that it would not be showing the movie in its cinemas. Certainly the flick isn't for children, and perhaps, not for everybody, but in a country so eager to espouse the importance of free speech we've certainly seen dramatic limits placed upon such freedoms in the post 9-11 and Patriot Act world. Much publicised nipple-dramas involving Janet Jackson, and suspensions, fines and criticisms for the likes of Howard Stern from a monolithic Clear Channel Communications have only contributed to the mess.

This isn't to say that Australians are the most open-minded people in the world, either, and we're certainly still a ways away from reaching European levels of ease about a great many things, however I'd incredibly surprised to find a movie like 'The Aristocrats' receiving theatrical bans upon release there later in the year, regardless of recent surprisingly severe (and well-publicised) film ratings handed down by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Let's not forget, after all, that Australia is the country whose former Prime Minister once announced to the nation in a drunken stupor that any boss who sacked employees for being late to work on the day Australia won the America's Cup was 'a bum'.

Furore over the language and subject matter considered in 'The Aristocrats' got me thinking, though about how little is left 'beyond the more obvious and erroneous efforts to make racist or wholly politically incorrect remarks' that can truly offend our sensibilities. Since the spit-polish shine of the 1950's we've just about seen and heard everything, and certainly in terms of language there isn't much left 'at least for the moment' that can raise much of a stir. Certainly profanity is still something that is frowned upon, and certainly well-kept from our children, but most everyone nowadays makes frequent use of words like 'shit' and 'fuck' so much that their original meaning and power is swiftly evaporating.

Perhaps the only word left that makes some folks still shiver is the dreaded 'c' word. That said, I'd like to think not all of my friends are complete thugs and ruffians, and within circles of generally young men in Australia (but still rarely around women), the use of the 'c' word is not only now common, but easily substituted as a term of endearment, much as someone might call someone 'a good shit', 'a lucky shit', 'a funny shit', etc... As friends quickly rushed to warn me upon arrival in America, however, the 'c' word hasn't made such dramatic inroads into circles here just yet. Rather, its out'loud use would likely put you on a fast track to social expulsion, a punch in the face and perhaps even arrest. But it's only a matter of time, surely, and for right or wrong, my use of the word seems to have begun to rub off on a few locals I've met who now enthusiastically greet me on the phone with a 'Hey Evan, you c**t, how are things?'

Breaking down barriers and pulling society one step closer to the gutter. That's me.

Go see 'The Aristocrats'. You'll love it and thank me later, you silly c**ts.

Ezy Reading is out every Monday.