Actually, it’s been a very good year for every iteration of the A-word. According to the media-news site Romenesko, which pays attention to such things, “ass” has appeared 22 times on NPR in the last year, only three times “in reference to the animal.” And there’s been little objection among booksellers to the barely taboo-avoiding title of linguist Geoffrey Nunberg’s latest book, released in August.
Book cover with wall of assholes.
The subtitle—“Assholism, the First Sixty Years”—makes it clear that Nunberg’s A-word is “asshole,” a word Nunberg says originated among American GIs during World War II and entered everyday language in the 1970s.*
I haven’t (yet) seen “asshole” in brand language, but—as noted in this space on several previous occasions—“ass” has been steadily gaining ground in the marketplace. In fact, “bad ass,” noun and adjective, has become practically a badge of brand honor.
“Yes you can drink rosé and still be a bad *ss.”
The winery’s own website, however, compares the taste of Charles & Charles rosé to Jolly Ranchers, which seems kind of candy-ass to me.
Down in Los Angeles, there’s a food truck—excuse me, “gourmet mobile burger concept”—that puts “badass” right up front in the name: Baby’s Badass Burgers.
(Hat tip: Michael.)
Nasty Gal takes its name from the album by Betty Davis, “the patron saint of badass women,” according to the About Us page.
In other news, a movie called Ass Backwards, starring Clueless’s Alicia Silverstone, is currently in post(erior)-production. The film’s writers raised more than $50,000 in funding on Kickstarter but haven’t sent updates to backers in more than 15 months, which sounds downright A-wordish.
And because if I don’t include it I’m sure to hear from several of you, here’s your Big Ass Fans mention. The company, whose logo is a donkey’s behind, is based in Lexington, Kentucky; the ad is in the September 17 issue of the New Yorker and may represent the first time “bespoke” and “ass” have appeared together in a commercial context.
* I heard Nunberg talk about Ascent of the A-Word last month at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, where his interviewer was Robert J. Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule. Because the event was being taped for public-radio broadcast, both gentlemen had to sidestep actual A-words in favor of “A-word.” It was an impressive exercise in forbearance, although Nunberg did slip in a D-word.