[personal profile] forsyth
So, let's talk about fuck. Not the act, just the word. One of the many and varied joys of working retail with music is dealing with parents who want to make sure their wee ones don't get exposed to any kind of naughtiness. My reactions vary from helpful to bemused, partially because I remember being a kid and the kind of language I heard every day, especially at school, and I barely ever fucking swear.

As a writer, even a wannabe, saying something like "They're just words" is a little bit hypocritical, or at the very least endangers all the self-justification that lets me pretend tapping things out on the keyboard is a valid use of my time. But I mean, dudes, they're just words. Hearing somebody say "fuck" isn't going to scar your kid for life any more than Janet Jackson's nipple is. Americans are so fucking uptight about sex. That's the only reason the word "fuck" has any power.

And that's the real reason not to overuse it. Or other "obscenities". The only reason they have any power is the power to shock, and they lose that if you overuse them. If every other fucking word of your fucking sentence is the word fuck, then it's going to fucking stop meaning anything, so fuck it. And I've known people who've used words like that, where other people would say "uh" or use punctuation, they said fuck. That gets you nothing. As a writer and a gamer, one of the things I know is you don't use up all your best stuff right off the bat. You've got to save the big things for when they'll be the most useful. And changes from routine can really get people's attention, so if you have a character who never swears, then crosses that line and yells "FUCK!", then it's a lot more emotional and draws more attention than if it's a "tough guy" who swears all the time to show how tough he is. Because in the first case, there's a boundary, and the effect comes from crossing it. Sort of like quantum states, only not at all similar.

And I guess that's a decent reason to keep kid's exposure limited, until they're old enough to understand the power of words and know when it's worth using things for effect. But that's not really based on the kid, it's based on other people, where you pretend the words are bad because other people think they're bad. I know for a fact back when I worked at the game store and we discouraged "foul language" we didn't do it to protect the kids, the kids hear worse at school. We did it to not have to deal with the parents or grandparents or strangers who'd be wandering the store and overhear something and get all offended on behalf of the kiddies. Who didn't care. Hmm. I wonder how much of "obscenity" isn't really people being offended, but upset because they figure other people will get offended. If I have kids, I don't think I'd try and "protect" them from language, just teach them how to use it and why it matters. I mean fuck, it's not like those four little words cause some kind of magical mental damage.

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Forsyth

April 2017

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