Monday, September 22, 2008

Are You Offended by "Douchebag?"

THE BALTIMORE SUN'S free daily paper featured a cover story about "Douchebags," with 56 ways to tell if you are one.

Apparently, some people were upset to see the word displayed so large and prominent on the page, which was fronted in newspaper boxes all around Baltimore.

Is there anything wrong with running the word on the cover in 48 point, bold type like this?

39 comments:

Tony Azzaro said...

I can see how the word can be offensive since it is being used to insult people or place people in a negative group because of the things they like...if someone liked one or two things on this list they would most likely feel offended

marykinsley said...

i don't think there's anything wrong running this word on the cover. To some, it may be offensive, but using the word in this context is a part of our society. People commonly use it to describe those kind of guys. It is an adventurous and risky piece, but it puts attention on "douchebags" and reports on their most defining qualities.

jesss ach[olonu] said...

I can't really decide. On one side I want to say no, that it's just a part of today's society, just another adjective to descibe certain males who are assholes. However, on the other hand part of me thinks "hey...if it were bitch i'd be pretty offended" and that too is part of our every day societal vocabulary. So, regardless i'm a hypocrite no matter which side i choose.

Sam N. said...

Seeing the word 'douchebag' so large in print could be offensive, especially to people who aren't familiar with the term douchebag. But because that word can be synonymous with 'asshole,' wouldn't seeing 'asshole' in 48 pt. print be offensive? I was on the fence about whether the cover print was too much, but after I read the article, I decided it didn't appear to be offensive whatsoever. It was a funny article, and it obviously wasn't meant to be provoactive. Because the word was so eye-catching with the size of font, it actually made me want to read the article and see what those 56 ways were, which was obviously the paper's motive.

jessica lista said...

To have a word that many people find so offensive so huge and prominent on the cover of a newspaper is very shocking. I feel that putting such a bold word on the front of a newspaper is negative because several people do find offense to it and it could even cause people to stop reading that newspaper. I just don't find it right to put something so harsh on the cover.

Geo said...

Think about the children! Think about those mothers walking their innocent, young children down the street and they stop in front of a newspaper box revealing a paper screaming "DOUCHEBAG."

"Mommy, what's a douchebag?" the young child asks.

Now, how do you, young journalist, feel? You've just corrupted the eyes of a minor.

- George (the teacher who hates the Yankees, and therefore is not a douchebag)

mike maiden said...

I don't think it's offensive at all. Big deal, you're saying 56 ways to know if you are an asshole. Frankly, I'd be more offended if the cover said fatass and 56 ways to know if you're fat. Even then, you choose whether to read it or not. There not forcing you, and you can't force them to change this cover

Sophia Salvatore said...

I don't think that it's wrong at all! According to the constitution, we, as Americans, have the right to free speech. I believe that the word "douchebag" falls under this right. And you know that the mother walking with the little kid would not tell the child what a douchebag is in any case. She would just say something like: "Oh...it's nothing"
People in this country take censorship too seriously. They think that if children are exposed to bad language, it will corrupt them. I disagree completely! There is nothing wrong with a child seeing something like this as long as the parent tells the child that language like that is not good to repeat. Language like that is used in the world around them. Parents can't censor everything!

Colin K. said...

To my eye, this cover is not offensive at all. I actually find it to be quite amusing. However, when I take an empathetic standpoint, I can see how that cover could be very offensive. I know my mother and many other adults her age would find the cover to be inappropriate. The reason I find it amusing and she would find would not is the generation gap. Mass media has changed a lot in the past 25 years.

I also agree with Mr. Miller about children seeing the word 'douchebag' in 48 font. The pinkish color they use, draws your eyes right to the word. Mothers should not have to explain what that word means to their six year old.

Kelsey Doenges said...

in my opinion, the cover is not really offensive at all. i mean, douchebag is common language, used every day god knows that i use. should i? eh probably not, but knowing that it isn't the best word isn't stopping me.

however. i am sure that the magazine had something better to put on the front cover, such as the "dow drop" which is just an after thought on the side right of the magazine. but! this has created controversy, which is probably what they want, and i know that that is one article that i would enjoy reading.

Gina Osting said...

I believe that the magazine does hold the right to publish whatever they choose, and are more than likely catering to a niche audience (I assume this from the few mentions of Baltimore in the article), so they found it appropriate to publish such an article and display it how they did. The article will draw readers in because it is such a riske topic to address, and the manner in which they advertised the article will clearly draw readers in.

The bold face 'DOUCHEBAG' running on the front cover may attract some negative attention from people who are non-familiar with the word in this context, but at the same time, all they need to do is pick up the issue and learn what it is in a different light. And as someone mentioned before, the little kids who encounter this magazine inquisitively will all eventually learn swears and hush-hush words. The censorship
and discretion of the parents will determine how soon and how much they know.

danzee88 said...

I feel as though it begs the question: what makes something offensive? We've been raised to understand certain words as offensive, it could just as easily have been some other word that's considered offensive. I personally think it's fine to run that simply based on the premise that it could have been any word, they simply chose that one.

danzee88 said...

furthermore! i think their d-bag definition is way off the mark.

Courtney Schmidt said...

I believe it would be worse if a cover like this ran 30 or more years ago, but since it was published now, it is less likely to stir up as much concern as it would have then. Don't get me wrong, the word can definitely be seen as offensive because it is an insult, however worse things are put in print everyday. For example, I subscribe to a magazine that every month has the word 'fuck' written in at least one article. Granted, it is not splashed on the cover, however I think using curse words is less frowned upon now than it would have been decades ago.

Catherine said...

I don't think that the publication of the word is offensive. It's not picking out any sort of stereotype and pinpointing one group of people over another. However, bordering the appropriateness level? Yeah, I think so. But hey, I'm sure they sold a few copies. This is a business after all

bethany barton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Agreeing with what Geo said, I think it is offensive to run a word like that on the cover because of young ones who shouldn't be exposed to that kind of language. But then again, if it were hidden in the article, parents wouldn't know not to let children read it, so it somewhat acts as a warning that the article is not suitable for children.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, it's a word that our high school used on a daily basis. I remember saying it a couple months ago in a public place and my boyfriend gave me the evil eye. I asked George what I did and he told me that it was a nasty word.... Apparently my definition and his were slightly off. It's all a matter of opinion... if the Baltimore Sun published it, I'm sure they were comfortable with it. In Fact, where can I get a copy? =) Heck, I'd buy it.

Nikki Allen
Jour1111

Matthew Wargo said...

If you take the time to read the article it is just ridiculous. It almost feels as if you are reading a tabloid. The term "Douchebag" could be offensive to some, like someone said earlier about not knowing what it meant. However, I think that the picture complements the large font and pink backround very well and it absolutly grabs your attention. Whether or not it crossed the lines is questionable based on who you ask. It is definetly on the line. If you read the article and read the comments, apparently this journalist got his information from some bogus website and maybe even took some information that he claimed is his own.

Trish said...

Running the word on the cover is just to get people's attention, I didn't think there was anything necessarily wrong with it until I read the actual article, and I think the article itself is offensive; it's discriminating against people... So what if you like to spike your hair, or watch Dane Cook; I thought this was a free country...

Ashley Kormos said...

I could completely understand why it would be offensive to my grandparents, but I'm almost positive that this magazine isn't targetting the elderly audience. I personally don't find it offensive it reminds me of Cosmo which is constantly being filled with sex tips or how to please your man moves. Like how we learned in class there are so many niches in the media we can pick and chose what we want to look at and don't. Like it or not, accept it because its not going away.

Greta Tralongo said...

Honestly, I don't find it offensive, but I know that people that maybe older would. I told my grandmother about this and she was uncomfortable with the word, until I explained that it kind of lost the real definition, and is just another word for calling someone an ass. So I think that if people understand what is being said then it's funny and not offensive, but if you're thinking in the sense of the true definition i could see how that might be a little disturbing.

Sean Purvis said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the cover of this newspaper. Think of the demographic that the newspaper is being written for. I believe that George said that it targets a younger audience, the teen demographic. In this case, most people who would be offended by it wouldn't read this type of newspaper anyway. The younger generation says the word douchebag all the time. I don't see a problem with it because it is part of the lingo of the target audience of the paper. Although, I will say that it is most definitely for shock value and to get people to read the paper. And if we're talking about it and doing blogs about it, didn't those people who decided to put this on the cover do their jobs extremely well. I mean this is getting a lot of coverage, and not just from the area of circulation. Congrats fellas, you managed to do your job very well. You should be commended for it.

Katie Tully said...

freedom of speech, press, etc., i guess. i'm not offended at all, because it doesn't affect me in the least, and i really wouldn't understand why others would care so much.

Cara said...

Freedom of speech. whether or not its right or wrong to publish the word Douchebag on the cover of magazine doesnt matter. its still allowed. a word like douchebag will get you into a lot of trouble, however, if your reporting the news and claim someone to be one. i dont see anything wrong here.

Geo said...

Legally, you can run the word. No doubt.

But ethically, should you?

- George (the teacher)

Andrew Kirschenbaum said...

Call me ethically inept, but I really can't understand what's wrong with doing this at all. I personally don't view it as the responsibility of the journalist to censor themselves in order to placate the audience, or just someone who happens to walk by. Publications are, well, published in order to make money. I think the douchebag story is funny. Had I passed it at a newsstand, I probably would have stopped to flip through. George asks alot of tough questions in his class regarding ethics and censorship, and quite honestly, I'm not sure what to think; however, the examples that he's showing us have been printed and distributed, so how bad can they be?

Geo said...

The story about Hillary Clinton having alien babies was printed and distributed as well. Does that make it right?

- George (the teacher who will argue no matter what you say)

gabriellesc@temple.edu said...

I think its fine; but maybe because I`m nothing on that list. Maybe, maybe..

nancy barber said...

I think this article is hilarious. I don't think it's offensive, it's definitely obnoxious to run it so big on the cover, but it's just a word. Besides, worse things are said and done every day, this is so small in comparison. Not to mention the whole thing about children seeing it- children are exposed to the world everyday. The only way they would be safe is if they were to never leave their house, never turn on the TV or the computer. They're going to see "bad words" and hear them too no matter if douchebag is on the cover of "b" or not. And what about sex? What about the children who have walked in on their parents or see something on TV? Should everything be banned to save the childrens' innocence?

Megan McCue Journalism said...

I think using this word on the cover is extremely unnecassary. Freedom of speech should not be abused and this is an offensive word, whether some members of society approve or not. It does not make it right. There are alternate words you could put in its place.

Jessica Gizinski said...

at first when we talked about this subject in class i thought that it was harmless and satirical.
But after i read the article here i began to think that it was a bit over the line and offensive.
I'm not sure that it was right to run an article like this, but then again, i've never read the rest of the magazine. maybe thats the kind of magazine that it is.

summergirl said...

i think it's offensive. There needs to be some sort of responsibility and ethics in journalism. And I just don't think it's right to run a word like that in such huge letters on the cover

gina benigno said...

It all comes down to the company's strategies to sell as many magazines as possible. The word "douchebag" can definitely be interpreted offensively, (especially to older people) however, the attention the cover receives will make people want to read more! It's human nature. Now, maybe it's not the most poltically correct way of grabbing people's attention, but it works.

Geo said...

So did you read it?

- George (the teacher)

Stephanie Mullen said...

I believe that the actual article about being a douchebag was actually fun and cute. The article was not meant to be offenseful unless you were actually a douchebag. I think that it is fine to print things like that because it's the job of journalists.

Gina Benigno said...

Yeah, I did read it. If the magazine has the balls to publish the word "douche bag" on the cover, I definitely want to know what's inside.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bthesite.com/archives/2008/09/anatomy-of-a-douchebag/#comments
If you follow this link... the comments are pretty fun/brutal. Check it out. Don't be a loser.
Nikki Allen J1111

Anonymous said...

Is Bigfoot Genuine or bogus? For over 4 hundred many years, there are actually reporting’s of a guy like beast that is definitely wholly covered in hair.
[url=http://www.is-bigfoot-real.com/]sasquatch[/url]