The slur dick

On Language Log a little while back, I posted (in “Retitling Strunk & White”) a Scenes From a Multiverse cartoon about the phallic pejorative dick. And now, in a New Yorker piece about tv sitcom producer Chuck Lorre — “A Simple Medium” by Tom Bissell, in the December 6 issue — a tale about taping the show “Mike & Molly”:

Lorre’s attention was soon consumed by another editorial legacy of the run-through, when a Standards and Practices representative from CBS refused to allow Molly to call Mike a “dick” in a moment of anger after a date. Molly’s line had had become “You big knob!” It got a big laugh from Lorre during the camera run-through earlier in the day, but hearing it now, he seemed frustrated. Nothing about it worked, he decided, because Molly’s motivation did not line up with her reaction. “She’s been charming,” Lorre said of Molly. “It’s his problem; he’s an asshole. But CBS won’t let us call him an asshole.”

Ah, the subtle difference between a dick and an asshole, as in the Multiverse cartoon.



2 Responses to “The slur dick

  1. Ian Preston Says:

    To me the distinction in meaning between “knob” and “dick” is so subtle as to escape perception and the two are equally (in)offensive. I think that would be a common British reaction – see p.81 here.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Yes, a common British reaction. But not American, where this use of knob would be seen as creative insulting, while dick would be an off-the-shelf insult. The tv program in question is American, as is Lorre.

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