Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Wendy Leece Objects to Weekly Using "Motherfucker" 17 Times in Article

motherfucker.jpg
Wendy Leece's marked up copy
As Gustavo's editorial assistant, I never have a shortage of angry calls and letters from the public complaining about our content that offended them one way or another. But it's not often that an elected official reaches out on the behalf of their constituents and complains for them. Yet that's exactly what Costa Mesa councilwoman Wendy Leece did in January.

You might remember Leece as the Know Nothing who supported former mayor Allan Mansoor's anti-Mexican pogroms in the city, or her recent reinvention as a champion of the city's public employees. This time,
Leece called about one particular story in our January 18 dead-tree issue--and, surprisingly, it was not our cover story with Klansmen on the cover.

Nope, she had a problem with Joel Beers' review of the hit play The Motherfucker with the Hat at South Coast Repertory.

Her problem with Joel's review was that it proudly used the word "motherfucker" a full 17 times--and that doesn't include the amount of times "fuck" was used as a stand-alone exclamation. Oh and there was the part about the photo we used, a publicity still provided to us by South Coast Rep: the main character sliding between his girlfriend's legs in tighty-whities somehow being caught off-guard by the audience.

Leece, who doesn't read the Weekly, says a Costa Mesan grandmother brought the article to her attention. "She was just outraged that her grandson [a teenager] picked up this magazine," Leece said.  Leece demanded a meeting between Gustavo, her, and a bunch of concerned mothers regarding the issue; instead, Gustavo asked I meet on his behalf.

We gathered at Costa Mesa City Hall.

"I think this is purposefully, almost trying to annoy conservatives," Leece began.

 "It is," I offered.

She laughed.

"I just wondered what the editorial reaction is and what the answer is to parents who are offended because it's available to minors," Leece replied. I explained that we had used curse words in the article not just because the play is called The Motherfucker with a Hat, but also as a retort to The Daily Pilot; a month earlier, Michael Miller had written about the play and commented that only this infernal rag could publish the full title.

Leece understood, and her calm attitude and willingness to listen was actually a nice surprise.  However, and unsurprisingly, once the mothers, Jessica and Angela, arrived, a few handfuls of sass were thrown around the room.

Angela opened with her research. "Before I came I thought, 'I know what pornographic things are,' but what does the dictionary say?" she began. "Depiction, photographs, or something in writing, and I thought, 'That's that,' and you're putting pornography out there." Me arguing that the review was not pornography, nor that her teenager could get a way-sexier read by picking up Anais Nin at the public library seemed futile.

"We understand how detrimental it is to educate your children in something erotic before they're ready for it," Angela explained. And the Weekly couldn't agree more. Yet the argument that kids say and hear worse things during lunch break didn't matter much to them. Nor did the argument that the Internet could be far more detrimental to kids. And the old conservative argument about parental responsibility did not sit well either.

"So, you're telling us basically, that we can't go out in public," Jessica asked.

"There is pornography out there, but it has black covers and is kept away," Angela piped in. "But your magazines are out there for anyone to pick up."

The matter ended calmly and the women requested that I bring the issue to Gustavo with a plea to think of the children. This could mean being more mindful of stand placement, covering up our especially sexy issues, or just toning back the language in general.

"You can say these words, but do you have to?" Leece asked (she's still awaiting a response from the Segerstroms about why they hosted the play in the first place). Actually, we do, especially when THE WORD "MOTHERFUCKER" IS IN THE FUCKING TITLE OF THE FUCKING PLAY.

Oh, and I guess the moms and Leece weren't offended by Joel's reference to anal sex in the play, 'cause they didn't bring it up...

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26 comments
edwardhunter714
edwardhunter714

Wendy,

You've inspired me to clean up my language. I said the F-word 48X yesterday, only twice so far today. Thanks for always trying to advance and help Costa Mesa.

Gusatavo, You gotta like her much more than Riggy and Mensy!

wendyleece
wendyleece

Actually I DO read the OC Weekly. Not every issue.  Not for the ads for the boob jobs. I am not some old fuddy duddy, but I like the food/restaurant edition, especially when Costa Mesa eating spots are mentioned. I read, "ask a Mexican" sometimes and other features.  I don't care for some of the ads of course, and the focus on all the pot shops, but Costa Mesa being eclectic with a wide variety of ages and cultures, I like to stay current on events and that's why I do read the OC Weekly.  The article by Ms. Hastings was fair and we had a good stimulating chat about being a citizen of the Costa Mesa community and what that means. Afterall, OCW offices are in CM.  Is there any moral responsibility to work together to improve the community and "protect" kids from reading material that is not age appropriate? BTW,my kids (5) say the f-word and then quickly apologize.  I just think the f word creates a toxic environment. The article stepped over the line, in my humble opinion. That's all.

lianapadilla
lianapadilla

I am a Republican, but at the same time I believe in free speech.  I am not a big fan of the F word, but will use it occasionally. 

Jason Alton Mize
Jason Alton Mize

I did read it. I am a reader of the OC Weekly, and it's true, the investigative pieces are still there which I'm certainly grateful for. Thank you to all the writers that work hard to produce these works. Are the people of Orange County into poll dances? Yes, many are. Are the people of Orange County into porn? That's a no-brainer. Do we like our weed and bigger boobs? We do. Do the hard-hitting (well-written) investigative pieces get their heads above all this glitz and glam around it? That's where I wish the answer was a confident "Yes", at least from me. Even the nature of this Facebook post feels a bit reactive and overly sarcastic. Granted, the Councilwoman Leece's comments do warrant a sarcastic retort. However, it just doesn't invite much conversation into the issue being discussed. It's more of a reactive rally cry to the troops to defend the relevance and honor of the Weekly. Sincerely though, keep up the good work you're already doing OC Weekly and for continuing to publish.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

I wish conservatives (or whatever you call these Tipper Gore type folks) wouldn't react to you at all. It evidently just gives you the frisson of being transgressive.

You guys aren't Lenny Bruce getting arrested for profanity. You're not even George Carlin doing his 'seven words' schtick. 

Of course there are words that you could get into hot water for printing...we all know what they are, and you won't. 

edwardhunter714
edwardhunter714

Ever since the Righeimer takeover, Leece has seen the light and done everything she could to keep Costa Mesa from becoming a complete OCGOP colony. She deserves a pass.

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Jason: Gracias for your concern. We actually used to run far more augmentation and escort ads back in the day. And mixed in with the porn-star columns and DAILY Poll Dance questions is the same hard-hitting investigative stories we've always published—you did read our cover story this week, right?

Kathryn Knox
Kathryn Knox

I've seen parents with a ton of money treat their child like a possession. Money does not equate to stellar parenting.

Brian J. Arra
Brian J. Arra

Lol. You have people that have kids that can't even support themselves. What makes one believe they can be a good parent with no money.

Jason Alton Mize
Jason Alton Mize

I guess one question that comes to mind is whether or not the OC Weekly has seen a rise or fall in its readership over the past few years. The shortage of angry calls and public complaints could be because the types of readers that gravitate toward the OC Weekly are not offended by colloquial language because the offended have just gone elsewhere. I do often wonder if the standards of journalism at the OC Weekly have dropped at all in recent years. From weekly "Poll Dances" to Porn Star Columnists to the ever-increasing augmentation and marijuana adds in the Weekly, some of what's printed does feel like it's getting close to lowest-common-denominator territory. But if what the OC Weekly gives is what the people want, then print away.

Brennan King
Brennan King

The children get to watch people being blown up, losing limbs, blood covering sidewalks and children dying on the news today. I don't think a few "fucks" are going to hurt them.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

She thinks her grandson doesn't already know all those facts of life? Oh honey, denial ain't just a river in Egypt...

LPHastings
LPHastings

Leece was actually pretty cool towards me - but eh, I guess you have to prove that you're on the council for something!

victor62
victor62

She clearly never read OCW when Buddy Seigal wrote for the paper. Buddy made Joel's piece look like a flyer for a church picnic!

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

@Dave_Lieberman The facts of life?

I don't know what they teach kids in New Jersey-- but mother fucking is frowned on here. In fact, it might be illegal.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@victor62 She clearly doesn't read OC Weekly, period. Time to change that by writing about HER...

jobeers
jobeers

@victor62 I miss buddy. He once railed on me for saying that seeing a Springsteen show was like an orgasmic experience. he wrote a rebuttal and said I should really think about the people I dated...

jobeers
jobeers

@wendyleece just the 17th time, however. The first 16 were absolutely essential.

jobeers
jobeers

@wendyleece and if kids are reading theater reviews in the OC Weekly they're already long past redemption...

jobeers
jobeers

@wendyleece the point of gratuitously using the word, besides using it gratuitously, was to underscore--by using a sledgehammer--the fact that while publications can print all kinds of stories about atrocities and murders and rapes and other horrible stuff, we're still hung up on naughty words. As Carlin once said, wouldn't it be great if we substituted all the uses of the word kill with the word fuck? Even South Coast Repertory declined to use the full name of the play in its promotional material.


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