When did saying the f-word become so common? Why are movies and plays so loaded with vulgar language the plot and characters become secondary?
I’m hardly swear-free, and even had a swearing jar myself when in 8th grade, created by my friend Kathy. I think the fine was a quarter and I’m not sure how long it lasted.
Profanity has crept into speech like a pervasive parasite, particularly in films and contemporary theater, and I don’t like it.
A blurb about a new play about Civil War re-enactors interested me. My husband loves all things Civil War and discount tickets were available. The play, “Row After Row” by Jessica Dickey, occurs during the re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. Two friends, one playing a Union soldier, the other a Confederate, meet in a bar after the “fake” battle and meet a young woman who had also participated in the event. Therein lies the problem; she’s dressed in unauthentic attire, pretending to be a soldier when women weren’t allowed on the battlefield. The issues of their lives unfold—job woes, relationship troubles and so on, alternating with flashbacks to 1863, reliving the battle. The language in the modern day scenes was so replete with swearing and f-word hurling, I became distracted from the plot and annoyed I’d wasted time and money on this play.
Who’s to blame?
In the tweet/text world, abbreviations for f-wordisms run rampant: WTF, LMFAO, etc. I don’t even know what most stand for
For young people, who may sprinkle these like salt into texts and speech, learning to code switch on a job or in school may become more difficult. Where’s the line between what’s acceptable and what isn’t?
Obviously, one can communicate quite well without swearing. In the play, the historical scenes, filled with emotion and pathos, included nary an obscenity. Instead lyrical passages conveyed the messages, holding my attention and respect.
Classical theater abounds with great writing portraying the spectrum of human emotions without use of profanity.
Here are a few examples of Shakespeare’s insults:
“He is deformed, crooked, old and sere, Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere; Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind; Stigmatical in making, worse in mind. “ The Comedy of Errors (4.2.22-5)
“More of your conversation would infect my brain.” Coriolanus (2.1.91
“Away! Thou’rt poison to my blood.” Cymbeline (1.1.128)
“’Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle, you stock-fish! O for breath to utter what is like thee! You tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile standing-tuck!” Henry IV (2.4.227-9)
“You juggler! You canker-blossom!” A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.293)
And if that isn’t your thing, there’s an App. http://swearjar.ideabasin.com/
So am I too prudish? What about you? Does hearing profanity bother you?