Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Episode 62: Keepin’ It Nasty

Why do curse words get rendered as F*** or S#!@? “I always thought punctuation should have its own lobby in Washington,” says Jessica, who discusses the relationship between design and profanity. Profane outbursts from President Donald Trump and short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci are of a piece with the “nasty” aesthetic of pro-Trump and the alt-right, she says:

The bigger story here is that the wanton disregard of respect for people and respect for language has led us to have these public figures using words that we don’t associate — many of us, perhaps most of us — with the kind of leadership we expect.

Also mentioned this week:

Alan Burdick, The New Yorker, Why Swearing Makes You Stronger
Kristin Wong, New York Times, The Case for Cursing
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon
Strong Language, Mapping the United Swears of America
waxing scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin
Jason Kottke, Maps of the United States of Swearing
Charlie Warzel on the “shit aesthetic” of Trump supporters and alt-right
Charles Blow, New York Times, Trump Savagely Mauls the Language
Monica Hesse, Washington Post, Did a 9-year-old called ‘Pickle’ really write that letter to Trump? Yep, he’s real.
Megan Cerullo, New York Daily News, 9-year-old boy who had Trump-themed birthday party to tour White House
Fast Co.Design, Nest Founder: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?
Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten
Products of Design program, School of Visual Arts
John G. Morris obituary
Diana Budds, Fast Company, Donald Trump’s Drawing Is Even Worse Than You Think

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Posted in: Arts + Culture, The Observatory

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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