Today’s Bizarro, with a very distant pun:

As with other distant imperfect puns, this one works only because of all the heavily determining context, ” ___ Savings Time”, which allows disco and daylight to count as equivalent even though they share nothing significant beyond the initial /d/ and their disyllabicity.

As it happens, I’ve had disco on my mind recently, thanks to the arrival of the gussied-up DVD of Saturday Night Fever (1977) a couple days ago. Yesterday I played it twice — once straight through in the original (R-rated) version, then in that version with running commentary from the director, John Badham.

So: John Travolta, two female leads, the Bee Gees’ music, a complex plot with compelling but flawed characters, lots of extravagant disco dancing, lots of Brooklyn working-class English (whose authenticity I’m not capable of judging), lots of simulated sex (including a gangbang that turns into a rape), two vertiginous scenes on NYC bridges (the Brooklyn Bridge is virtually a character on its own), and tons of “coarse language” (taboo language and slurs, much noted at the time).

The cover of the DVD I viewed yesterday:

On the language front, we get

asshole, fuck [in a huge number of variants], shit, bullshit, piss, cunt, pussy, jerk off, tits, cocksucker, dick


spic, nigger, faggot.

And the Wikipedia entry, quoting Badham, describes SNF as the “first mainstream Hollywood movie in which blowjob was used”.

Badham and the screen writer Norman Wexler saw the language used by the young (19-to-21 year-old) working-class Brooklyn men in the movie as an accurate depiction of the milieu (though they didn’t pretend to be cultural anthropologists). It seemed shocking at the time — and was largely excised for the PG release for television — but isn’t far off ethnographic reports of street language at the time (or now). In fact, a number of critics found the R version to be much superior to the PG version.

One Response to “Disco”

  1. Thomas A. Limoncelli (@yesthattom) Says:

    Not totally related but…

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