Cool Tone?

December 2, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston

Two and a Half Men is funnier because it dances at the border of acceptability. “Can they say that on network television?” Most of us, it seems, cheer for the naughty boys to sneak in the dirty word and get it past Standards and Practices.

A similar games goes on at the DMV. The Smoking Gun has a list of over 1500 requests for vanity plates that the New York DMV has rejected. New York prohibits any plate which “is, in the discretion of the commissioner, obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic or other group, or patently offensive.” That includes hostile messages like UPYOURS (also UPURS and other variants). I guess nobody at the DMV got very far in French class. I saw this one on Broadway last week.

TON CUL – literally, “Your ass.” But I think “Up yours” better captures the sense and spirit of the phrase. (Native French speakers, please correct me if I’m wrong here.)

This one probably wouldn’t have gotten off the press in California. “A California vanity plate request, for example, is thoroughly reviewed by several people with both foreign language and slang dictionaries.”

For hundreds of vanity plates, most of them from NY and most neither offensive nor amusing, just personal, go here. (I did recently see, but didn’t photograph, an older man getting out of car (Lexus?) with the license plate SONZADOC. I guess MY SON THE DOCTOR wouldn’t fit.)

Surely, there must be some sociological research on vanity plates. I just don’t know of it.


Josh said...

I haven't done sociological research on vanity plates, but I do have a sociological vanity plate.

Jay Livingston said...

Josh -- Do people ask you if you're related to Salma?

Josh said...

My friend from home's first reaction was "Why would you get a license plate referring to Salma Hayek's dad?"

maxliving said...