Monday, April 26, 2010

BAD words and bad words

I don't watch reality shows because I don't believe in their reality.
That said, while recently channel surfing I happened upon one, then another reality show that was disappointing in its, well, reality dialogue.

An abundance of beeps highlighted the dialogue of both shows. Often the beeps outnumbered the words, so the viewer must decipher/read lips/guess the conversation.

I know a beep could have masked the A-word, the B-word, the C-word, the D-word the E-word... (well, maybe not E). However, I get the sense that the F-word won the count.

I don't completely disapprove of the F-bomb, as it's often called when used in an "oops" moment by politicians and celebrities. It's an effective word that gets to the nitty-gritty of the matter. Psychologists at a British university did a study which found the use of expletives strengthens one's endurance to pain.

Yes indeed. Stub a toe and find out how true that is.

However, I find that overuse dilutes the effectiveness of any cuss word. To me less is more. I'd rather see a show with a few bombs used in strategic--shall we say explosive--moments instead of tossed away like fluff in every other sentence.

Ditto in books. If I read a book in which a character goes overboard with the reality dialogue, it becomes a big yawn. But a judiciously placed pained/frightened/horrified/grievous/excited detonation bursts off the page and gives an effective single-word stress moment to a most dire (or alternately, most loving) event.

Disclaimer: Some fictional characters are defined by the language they use, so it's necessary to salt their dialogue in an appropriate manner. Some real people, too, have a limited vocabulary and can best express themselves by fixing on the single descriptive word they know.

That's reality for you.


Bad words

My five year old grandson on a recent visit learned a new bad word.

It was unintentional.

I don't know what tv show he was watching, but he said, in true five-year-old righteous fashion, "That's dickless!'

Uncle, knowing the boy's mother would never abide her child using such language, kindly took him aside and told him dickless was a bad word that should never be repeated.

Grandson looked perplexed. Could it be that other members of his family used this vulgar term?

He agreed never to say it again.

Later, Uncle told the boy's mother about the event.

She laughed and laughed. Uncle was now puzzled.

It was the boy's way of saying ridiculous.

Uncle, no doubt slapping the side of his head and calling himself a dickless wonder, had to admit to the boy he'd been mistaken about the word, it wasn't bad at all, etc.

No doubt Grandson was even more puzzled by this revelation.

He probably doesn't know any true bad words.

Give him a few years.

Learning the language is like a rite of puberty. And reality tv.