Monday, January 31, 2011

Nick - Observations On Obscenity

There were a hundred more relevant titles for this post, but I chose the one that had assonance.

My family has really weird priorities. My opinions were always more-or-less respected by my parents, they were pretty lax and gave me a lot of freedom, but god help me if I ever spoke any vaguely offensive words around them.

Not that I ever did; that's my brother's job. But in all seriousness, I never wanted to use curse words, or any words or phrases that might offend anybody. Growing up at Blessed Sacrament, a strict Catholic school, cursing when the teachers weren't around was the only act of rebellion most of my fellow students had. And I always wondered if they knew how stupid they sounded.

As I grew up, I was more understanding that obscene words are often necessary. But still, it's not at all uncommon for people to abuse them. And when a taboo word is used often enough, it loses some of its power.

Something I've learned during my time with The Titanic Players is that some characters need to use obscenities; however, if you rely on curse words all the time, they'll lose their edge. And then when you pull out a well-thought-out and obscene character, it won't be as funny. A politician who debates a very kind and noble opponent while making a  speech about "that shitty health bill" or "those damned libs" could be really funny, but only if you haven't been throwing shit and damn around the rest of the show.

Anyway, back to talking about me. I took it upon myself to not get into the habit of throwing around curses all the time. (or ever, when possible.) And I feel like this really long and probably not-worth-it experiment has taught me a lot about the power of language.

When you throw around obscenities too much, they lose their power. When you don't use them at all, you miss out on some great jokes or ways that things could have been worded. Language is a careful balancing act; finding the right balance where you can use that power without abusing it.

That balancing act, and the power of language, is really the take-home point I wanted to send to everybody. But I've got one more thing to say on the subject before I sign my name. This is something I've been waiting to say for a long time.

If you've ever mocked me for my reluctance to use obscenities, or quietly sneered at my always family-friendly improv:

FUCK you.




  2. I like how I got to read this like 4 days ago.