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F bombs

I’ve been watching quite a bit of the Battlestar Galactica series (the most recent one). One of the things I find intriguing is the character’s exclamations. There are plenty of polytheistic versions of common epithets, “Gods damn it!” “Oh gods!” etc. By far my favorite bit of swearing on the show is “Frack!” Frack is used as a quite obvious substitute for “fuck.” “Frack you!”, “Frack me!”, “Motherfracker”, and my favorite so far, “We are well and truly fracked!” The word has a certain charm to it, I believe that it was introduced in the original show from the 80’s. That show was quite a bit more kid friendly and was almost completely dominated by Mormon symbolism, so the characters didn’t swear much, and when they did, it had to be pretty innocuous language.

The current show is quite a bit more violent and darker. There are plenty of chances for the characters to swear, and they do. The writers have succeeded in having the most swearing in any network program that I can think of and manage to get everything by the censors. By making up words like “Frack” and by using the plural “gods damn it” there isn’t a single bleep in the show despite the fact that the effect is exactly the same. Here’s an interesting experiment, imagine that the writers wrote in the usual swearing and allowed them to be bleeped out, would it be more or less effective in getting across the character’s state of mind than the made up words? I’m not really sure, but I am sure that it would have a much different feel to it, and I’m sure that parents would bemoan the “strong language” if the show were filled with bleeps…

It’s all so silly of course. There is nothing magical about the word “fuck.” Nor is there any point in allowing “___ damn it” when we all know full well what got bleeped. I am always amazed by how people miss the real power of language. The act of swearing is far more powerful than the actual words used. Personally, I find the verbs frig and sod to be far more offensive although I’m sure that just about all the networks would allow them to be said in prime time shows. I wish to God that the FCC and other “concerned citizens” would realize that there are no magic words with special powers. Banning certain words regardless of the context leads to silly things happening, like the invention of frack. This show has scenes of people getting killed all the time (sometimes in rather grisly ways), lots of sex, and even an attempted rape, but the characters are not allowed to say fuck. As a matter of fact, one of the incidental characters was allowed to refer to a guy getting laid as getting his pole greased. You tell me what is more descriptive or offensive, getting fucked, or getting you pole greased… If you are going to censor anything, you should censor things that will disturb people, not individual words. A word has never warped anyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if exposure to violence, rape, and sex could indeed affect kids’ thoughts and actions. SIGH, I guess I’m just fed up with silliness, you’d think I’d be used to it by now…

Isaac

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