Saturday, March 5, 2011

You Blankety-Blank

I saw a story this week about the film "The King's Speech" being edited in order to have its rating changed from "R" to "PG-13." I loved the movie and, although not a fan of the "F" word, it did not turn me off in the context that it was used in the film. In fact, I think it is kind of silly that changing the number of uses of the word from 15 to, let's say 6 or 7 should make the difference in whether or not it gets an "R" rating.

It brought to mind the old argument for those of us who think cursing should not be part of one's conduct - is it ok to use cursing in your writing if it is necessary for the story? Is it ever really necessary for the story?

I recently finished reading "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner, a dystopian tale of a group of young boys forced to live in a place called The Glade, an enclosed structure with no way out except perhaps through a maze with boundaries that change daily. Mr. Dashner took an interesting approach to the language dilemma by inventing a new slang language for the boys, with some terms very similar to contemporary curse words. This artistic choice still led to some controversy.

When it comes to swearing, one of my favorite characters is one who wouldn't curse, but was even more frightening because of it - Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's "Misery." The words "dirty bird", "Mr. Man," and "cockadoodie" may not seem too bad in isolation, but just wait till you hear them coming at you from a frumpy middle-aged woman who is holding you captive and wielding a sledgehammer.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with Annie Wilkes. Great character.

    I think the key with language in a book is consistency. I read this series where the girl started very wholesome and didn't like using bad language, but then by the end of the series, she was dropping the F-bomb regularly. I just didn't buy it.