Martha Thomases Is Talking Dirty

Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases brought more comics to the attention of more people than anyone else in the industry. Her work promoting The Death of Superman made an entire nation share in the tragedy of one of our most iconic American heroes. As a freelance journalist, she has been published in the Village Voice, High Times, Spy, the National Lampoon, Metropolitan Home, and more. For Marvel comics she created the series Dakota North. Martha worked as a researcher and assistant for the author Norman Mailer on several of his books, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Executioner's Song, On Women and Their Elegance, Ancient Evenings, and Harlot's Ghost.

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12 Responses

  1. Hollie Buchanan says:

    I’ve wondered if SF helped open those doors. On Red Dwarf, everysmeggingbody cursed and spoke in everysmegging way they could imagine while always saying “smeg.” On the Galactica, everyfrellingbody did the same with “frell.” Farscape was more creative (as was so often the case) with an inventive vocabulary of blue language. Firefly just used Chinese. On each show, potential censors might’ve been mollified, but since everyone knew what was intended (and civilization managed to refrain from collapse) shows without the science fiction reasons for avoiding the language of common speech just decided to stop avoiding. On the other hand, what the frell do I know?

    • Jonathan (the other one) says:

      On Farscape, they said “frell”. Aboard the Galactica, they frakking well said “frak”. That’s one mark against your nerd card…

  2. The Heavy Seven have always been taboo on broadcast TV, but cable is not overseen by the FCC (but MAN have they tried), so they can say anything they like. Most basic cable channels hew to the same rules as broadcast, but voluntarily, if only out of courtesy. The pay channels have no such compunctions.

    But we’re seeing more adult language slip in after hours. Comedy Central has started running unbleeped concert specials after 11PM or so, festooned with disclaimers that poo-poo words were coming.

  3. Jarrod Buttery says:

    The word “shit” can be spoken 162 times in a half-hour episode. Inclusion of written occurrences raises the limit to an even 200.

    Parents used to write and complain about “damn” being written in comic books? Seriously? You’d think people would have more important problems….

  4. Frank Miller says:

    I’ve been watching downloads of the Australian (translation, “civilized”) Masterchef Allstars. Normally it’s rated G, but the week a contestant said “shit,” it went up to PG. Apparently the show is quite popular with children, but they didn’t blip it out at all. Gotta love them Aussies! And the accents are damned sexy.

  5. Luigi Novi says:

    I don’t care, but I was surprised when I noticed that Conan O’Brien was allowed to say “shit” on his TBS show. I don’t know if it was in his contract, or if he felt a bit looser because the TBS higher-ups told him that they wouldn’t be bleeping the word because of the late hour at which the show is broadcast, or to be competitive in the ratings war, or what.

    • mike weber says:

      I remember when Dick Cavett did a special two-part panel discussion on a recent Supreme Court ruling on obscenity that included the “local standards” language.

      Can’t remember if he was on ABC or PBS by that time.

      Anyway, it was two shows, which, though they ran on consecutive nights, were taped back-to-back.

      On the first night, Cavett asked a question about something to do with “oral-genital” sex. (Portrayals, maybe or description…). Then he said something else, which got bleeped.

      At the beginning of the second program, Cavett was obviously furious. He explained that, during the break between taping the previous segment and the current one, he had been informed that he had been bleeped when he clarified his question.

      (I had assumed he’d said “cunnilingus” or “fellatio”. )

      He said that what angered him the most was the insult to his viewers’ intelligence that the bleep implied. He said that all he could figure out was that the Standards & Practices people figured that the viewers would be able to figure out what “oral-genital sex” meant, but that they’d be able to understand what he had said next.

      And he said “…and what did I say? I said ‘mouth on sex organ…”

  6. George Haberberger says:

    Oh, so you’re the one who saw Frank Miller’s Spirit.

  7. Sid Wood says:

    As the late great Redd Foxx said, “Yes I said Shit. I’m an adult now, I don’t say doo-doo”.

  8. Paul1963 says:

    Hey, I’m a fan of Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis. I don’t get shocked by harsh language in movies or TV shows or comics…but sometimes it surprises me, and that’s a different thing. I was surprised to hear “bullshit” used on the new “Dallas,” which is of course on TNT (and at 9PM ET at that). It didn’t bother me, it just surprised me. The novelty of hearing “asshole” and “bullshit” and (seriously) “dickfist” on “NYPD Blue” in the ’90s wore off pretty fast.
    10PM seems to be the point where Comedy Central will let “shit” air unbleeped (except for “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” probably because they get rerun several times during the day and early evening), but “South Park” reruns airing between 8 and 10 gets theirs left unbleeped.
    I recall a “Daily Show” where an entire Jason Jones segment hinged on the word “bullshit.” The initial 11PM airing was unbleeped, but when I ran across a morning rerun the next day it was bleeped.
    Using “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” as an epithet seems to depend on the broadcaster. Fox allowed “Sweet Zombie Jesus!” to be used in “Futurama” at 7PM on Sunday–twice!–but Adult Swim cut it (“Sweet Zombie [dead air]”) when they ran the show. At Comedy Central, it’s back in.

  9. Mindy Newell says:

    Shit, Martha, why the fuck didn’t I think of writing this?

    About two months ago I hurt my finger at work. Nothing bad, I broke a few capillaries, which caused my *ahem* middle finger to swell up. And goddamn, it hurt.

    Anyway, I had to write an incident report, so I went to the boss’s office to do so. The boss is from the Midwest, and the outfit that owns my ambulatory surgery center reflects that “What’s the matter with Kansas” mentality. So I’m sitting there trying to write, which was extremely difficult because said middle finger was on my right hand, and I’m a “righty.” (The only thing about me that is “right.”)

    And I said, “Fuck, that hurts.”

    And my “What’s the matter with Kansas” boss looked very disturbed and said “Don’t use that language. It’s not professional.”

    And I said:

    “I’m from New York.”