Let’s talk about the F-bomb

Opinion, in my opinion swearing when appropriate is just that, appropriate.  You bang your toe and you say something.  Whether you drop the ole F bomb or something more benign, like Monkey Farts, that is an appropriate time.  Sometimes you are surprised and you let out swear of surprise, or a string of obscenities when you are mad.  I get that. 

As someone who grew up in the late seventies and early eighties, yep the dreaded gen X, you did not hear the F-bomb often.  Before you think I am a prude, no, I use the word too much and that is what I am writing about today.  In the eighties, if you heard the word in a movie, it was a big deal.  “ooooh, did you hear that? WOW.”  Heaven forbid you got caught by your parents dropping the big bomb.  You used it around your friends to show how cool you were.  The word Fuck has lost its power, it lost its danger.  It has also become, again in my opinion, a cop out to real dialogue. 

 Now before you say, “Hey Shawn, you never talk to anyone, so how can you make such a statement,”  I reply with “screw you man, I have friends, I swear,” then I run away crying. 

No, wait I wasn’t going to share that. 

What I am talking about now is in movies and unfortunately lately books.  It is every other word sometimes but without context.  Your hero or villain’s gun jams and they say, “Fuck, the fucking thing is fucked.”  You understand right away they are pissed at the gun’s malfunction.  However, when most of the dialog is “Fuck, I don’t fucking get this fucking shit Fuck.”  and the other person responds with, “well fuck, this is fucked up and I am fucking tired of this fucking shit.” Yeah I guess you get the meaning but was it really necessary? “What, i do not understand where he got the equations to re-animate the giant zombie rat with the plague.”  “Yeah, I know this whole thing is exhausting, I wish he would give up.”  Yeah it took me a few extra seconds to come up with the alternative dialogue, but my characters don’t sound like uneducated thugs.  I am not saying anyone who swears is uneducated.  As mentioned I use the word myself.  I just don’t use it for every sentence or activity, nor do I tend to sterilize or make it “cute” “Oh F” Makes me fucking want to stab someone.  “Oh the Fing guy is mad now.”  UGH, if it is important enough to say then use the word.  If it is so bad then let’s let it have its danger, its role as king of the bad words back. 

I was at my someone’s house and their thirteen year old was casually using it.  He also calls his parents by their first name and that is when I put on my old man hat and think, “Back in my day, you never swore in front of Mom and Dad.  We called them Mom and Dad, we had respect, no get off my lawn.”  I think that might be a rant for another day.  

So my main point here is, let’s try a little harder with dialogue in movies and books.  Instead of:

“Fuck!” Tina shouted

Tina’s fury at Steven’s remarks boiled her blood.  Red faced and sweating she swung around.  He was inconsiderate and a jerk and she had enough, looking straight into his eyes she exploded.  Steve, took a step back, stunned at the outburst.”  

We took this from meh, to visualizing Tina’s anger, and you the reader imagined what she said to Steve.  It could have been as nasty or even humorous as you wanted.  I have been angry while driving and strung several insults together to the point I laughed.  “You cheese weasel fart knocker son of a motherless donkey.”  makes me feel better than shouting out one little word over and over.  

Let the reader use the terms most appropriate for them.  And Movies, just think how your film is going to sound when edited for TV.  “Flip you, you flipping Hot dog”  “Oh, flip me, I’m a hot dog?  Listen popcicle, I’ll fix your dog house.”    Sadly some of the previous dialog was used in the censored version of Scarface on network TV.  Yep the flippin hot dogs at the network really got that one right.  Now I have another rant in mind, if you have to cut out stuff, don’t air it.  Especially with music, don’t beep it, don’t play it scrambled, wait, let me save that for another time.   

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