Sunday, 1 February 2009

In praise of fucking swearing.

Once again mindless viewing of prime time TV (it may even have been the One Show again - what's happening to me?) has sparked the latest diatribe.
Apparently we all swear too much and civiliasation is coming to an end as a result. We know this because of the ubiquitous random talking heads in a busy high street segment. "There's too much of it. I don't like hearing it. It's the sign of a limited vocabulary."
Well thank you, Captain Eloquent. Pointing out the deficiencies in the vocabularies of others using one of the biggest clich├ęs of them all, the old. 'People who swear do so because they don't know any other words' tripe. Hey, I used the word 'the' seven times so far.. well eight now. Does that make my vocab limited? Fuck cunt bollocks shit wank twat bastard cock. Is it any more limited now?
Some of the most eloquent voices in recent history have been the sweariest. Bill Hicks, George Carlin? Both famous for two things: 1) Absolutely foul, disgusting language that takes your breath away even when you're expecting it and 2) Some of the most incisive, sensitive and poetic examples of the English language around. Check them out. Their vocabularies were not limited; the minds of people who tried to supress them because of their choices of words were. Severely. Carlin was arrested for indecency after his "Seven Dirty Words" bit was aired on a local New York Radio station in 1973. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices ruled 5-4 that the sketch was "indecent but not obscene," giving the FCC broad leeway to determine what constituted indecency on the airwaves. The Seven Dirty Words bit, as well as being funny, critiques the reasons that certain words are banned from the airwaves. The reaction it got actually changed the law.
Today, I'd say one of the most eloquent writers and performers around is Charlie Brooker, who gave us the glorious new word 'Cunthive'. That's not a limited vocabulary, that's genius. In fact, it's fucking genius.
Billy Connolly described the way Glaswegians use swearing as a form of punctuation, a rhythm which adds momentum and force to the conversation. I think that's pretty valid. Every other word being 'fuck' doesn't mean that the other half of what's being said isn't eloquent. It's just being intensified. It's at worst a dialectal tic, but I don't see anyone sending complaints in about Lloyd Grossman or Johnothan Ross's idiosyncrasies (actually, scratch that last one...) However Gordon Ramsay (not my favourite person admittedly) makes the national news because his latest Kitchen Nightmares show had a "fuck" every 20 seconds (insert porn joke here). Well, no shit, Sherlock. the man is more famous for his love of saying 'fuck' than for his cooking. His last show was called the F-word, for fuck's sake! Complaining because Ramsay swore? That's like complaining that Graham Norton is too Irish and gay (although I'm sure that's been done.) Click the fucking remote over to the One Show if you don't like it. I'm sure you'll get all the vocabulary you can handle there.
WG

3 comments:

  1. Thank you! That's one great thing about my job...I have a boss who wears jeans and swears.

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  2. How do you wear swears? Is it like sweats?

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  3. Hahaha! Very funny. I think you wear them like hats ;)

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