Profanity as heard on TV or in music is exponentially more acceptable today than it was years ago. In the early ‘80s, for example, if you heard any of George Carlin’s seven dirty words in music, chances were they were garbled in some underground punk song that FM radio didn’t even know existed. Occasionally, an F-word would find its way on a rock song and occasionally that song would find its way in rotation. Who can forget Roger Daltrey bellowing “who the fuck are you?” in The Who’s “Who Are You”? That was rare air in 1978.
But a song where the C-word was uttered? Even today, and even with gangsta rap, such an utterance is considered beyond the pall. Somehow, though, The Police managed to pluralize the word in their song “Rehumanize Yourself,” and get away with it controversy free.
Two-thirds of The Police, of course, were reared in Great Britain, where the word “cunt” isn’t nearly as offensive as it is Stateside. That said, The Police were already a huge act in the U.S. when Ghost in the Machine was released, so there should have been scrutiny a-plenty when their penultimate album was released. Amazingly, there wasn’t. It helped that the song, itself, wasn’t a single and buried on side two of the 1981 album. Still, its inclusion on a triple-platinum album without any fanfare remains of The Police’s most unheralded feats.
The song was featured in Tom Hanks’ first feature film, Bachelor Party, appropriately enough during a scene at strip club.