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lostnbronx is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: White Mts. of Arizona
Okay, I finally got around to listening. Now, admittedly, much of the examination of this topic was an extension of the "Tropes" discussion, from the previous eps (and very interesting stuff, that), but some important points are brought up independently, and I think they're worthy of more discussion.
Essentially, the nature of appropriate swearing revolves around context and the intended audience. In my own show's case, there are certain words which are never appropriate for my characters to use. While these characters are generally quite "free" with their language, there are, nonetheless, hard and fast lines which are never crossed, because, in the context of this style of broad humor and buffoonery, these words can only damage the comedic moment, not add to it. Other shows will have their own sets of internal logic and/or moral construction, and as such, my personal list of banned words will likely be different than those of others -- even if those writers make similar use of the vernacular.
To put it another way, my characters can say certain swear words, and be seen only as boorish clowns (the intended effect), or they can say other words, and immediately be seen as morally corrupt, or even "evil" (definitely not the intended effect). Racial epithets, by and large, are all on my banned list, as are many of the bigoted and sexist words Julie illustrated in this episode of TD. Now, some situations may prove to be exceptions, but, by and large, these are rules that I write my show by. If I was writing a character who was supposed to be "bad" and unlikeable, though, then these words are suddenly up for consideration.
For instance, if I were writing a Klan member -- a character type that most modern listeners would find repellent -- certain words become open to this character that other characters would never use. It is the context -- exactly who is saying what to whom, and to what end it is being said -- that determines the appropriateness of both the language and the subject matter. I don't find Holocaust jokes funny in any way, yet I might write some for that same Klan member to say, simply because he's the kind of character he is. "Evil" characters get to say the "evil" words. And even that list is mailable, as the words may change over time, and are subject to cultural filtering.
As writers for audio, we're naturally concerned with language in all it's stripes, but I believe the subject of swearing falls into the broader discussion of what, exactly, is perceived as offensive. By and large, I find graphic violence to be far more disturbing than graphic language, or graphic depictions of sex. But, trumping all, I find certain kinds of ideas, certain beliefs, to be the most repellent things on Earth.