Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Profanity

I've been late getting back to posting on my blog, but with good reason. We stumbled back into our new home at 1 AM this past Sunday morning, ready to fall into bed after traveling all day, only to be greeted by the sight of a portion of our ceiling sitting in the doorway of our bedroom, with water dripping onto the mess. Long story short, the air conditioner technicians installing our new system had disconnected and removed a humidifier from the old ductwork but had failed to properly seal off the end of the copper tubing, which had been dripping merrily in the attic for ten days or so. Fortunately, the air conditioning contractor stepped up to the plate and began putting things right the next morning. But it brought to mind what I heard a lot while I was growing up: "If it isn't one dad-durned thing it's another." Now if that's the extent of the swearing I did after going through this, I think I've done pretty well.
But that brings up the real subject of this post: profanity in the creative arts. Kay and I are absolutely hooked on the TV program, The Closer. The plotting is excellent, the action is continual, but amazingly enough, there is no profanity on the program, even though it's a cable show. (And we all know how cable shows, like some of those on HBO, like to show off their freedom of expression). Some of my favorite secular authors stray into the use of blue words from time to time, but the best ones are able to convey their meaning without that device. No, profanity is real-world, all right, but it's not necessary to add to what's already out there when we write to get our point across. And there are examples aplenty to prove it.

The device pictured above is a "swear box." The idea is that, when you swear, you put in a coin and the device gives forth with a bunch of bleeped-out profanity. Sounds like fun...for the first couple of times. After that, I suspect it would get sort of monotonous. But then again, conversation and writing laced with profanity falls into the same category.

Oh, well. I'm back at work, the repairs on our house are going along, and I'm about to watch some more politics on TV. There won't be any profanity from the podium, but before this election is over I imagine there will be a few choice words directed at the candidates over the morning paper by lots of folks. Every time that happens, drop a quarter in a jar. Then put the proceeds in the collection plate next Sunday. Better than a swear box.

4 comments:

One More Writer said...

Glad you are home--and look forward to seeing you in another couple of weeks in MInneapolis.

Ed J. Horton said...

I'm kinda scratching my head. My wife and I also like The Closer, but we can't let our ten-year-old in the room while we watch it. The TNT show that comes across our TV screen is peppered with profanity. How do I get your cable version?

Richard Mabry said...

Ed,
Maybe I didn't research it enough. Kay and I watched an episode of The Closer last night (from a couple of weeks ago--we're big on recording and skipping commercials) and I honestly don't recall hearing any regular use of profanity. There isn't any "grading scale" for profanity, of course, and in a perfect world there's none, just as we're admonished--"Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay." But this is a fallen world, and that stuff happens. I guess I was saying that The Closer, although there is an occasional (but not frequent) use of "d--n" and "h--l," avoids F-bombs and similar words. And it's head and shoulders above some of the cable programs I could (but won't) name.
Thanks for dropping by. See you in Minneapolis.
Richard

Ed J. Horton said...

I'm kinda scratching my head. My wife and I also like The Closer, but we can't let our ten-year-old in the room while we watch it. The TNT show that comes across our TV screen is peppered with profanity. How do I get your cable version?