Saturday, March 8, 2008

Facetious Vulgarity

Upon learning that the DWADs were publishing my critiques/reviews/analyses/pisstakes of their work, my mood was comparable to that Robot Chicken sketch where Palpatine gets a collect call from Darth Vader and learns "a bunch of teenagers" in an "alluminum falcon" blew up the Death Star - Palpatine curses Vader, reminding him of "what a whiny bitch he was over Padme". Then, in a mixture of shock, amusement and pity, he turns to his friends and whispers, "Oh my god, he's actually crying!"

That sums up my view. I'm not sure how to react? Should I marvel at their lack of smarts by putting up reviews by "Ben Chatham"? Grudgingly respect them for putting up reviews that exist SOLELY to show them for the arrogant bastards they are? Or pity them for being so desperate for reviews of ANY kind they'll put up kneejerk offensiveness like the kind "Ben Chatham" peddles?

Since the puritanical DWADs have stern views on swearing, I decided to slightly censor my work (hey, if Steven Moffat does it...) to remove the words "fuck" "shit" "piss" "wank" and on certain occasions "bastard" (if referring to the author or producer of the play in question) so to ensure when they inevitably turned down putting up the reviews, they couldn't mutter something about it being 'too offensive' and would have to admit they didn't like reviews that didn't portray them in a good light.

Well that plan sure backfired.

However, I was amazed to discover that the handful of curses I had removed still left the reviews looking like they'd been written with someone with Tourette's Syndrome - the finished products are full of *****ing asteriks! My prudish standards have nothing, for they still included the following offensive terms:

"damn" "bastard" "moron" "tosser" "hell" "arse" "Jesus Christ" "bitch" "ass" "bloody"

I was certainly surprised at censoring the first word, since it was actually used by the Master in the story I was reviewing, and "arse" for example was not descriping a body part or even stupidity, but meaning "bothered to do something".

You know, back in 2005 I got quite a bit of kudos for suggesting that the TARDIS telepathy translator has a swear filter (and guess what, in 2006 the exact same thing turns up in Only Human - Gareth Roberts, you copycat!), which explains why people in Cardiff swear whenever the Doctor isn't around. Though until recently, Jack Harkness himself has not fouled his mouth (ahem) with the language of the gutter and, bar innuendo, the rudest he's been is to question the size of Owen's testicles. But then in Something Borrowed he too starts swearing, and I notice that Martha Jones never descended to it either.

So, what swearing is acceptable in Doctor Who?

Damn: well, the last episode I saw was Voyage of the Damned, so yeah, I think it's acceptable
Crap: as long as you mean "rubbish" rather than anything to do with bodily functions, well Grace Holloway made it OK to say...
Bitch: the DWM comic strip showed that at moments of extreme tension it is permissable, from the brain-shattering climax of Wormwood ("I never liked you, ya bitch!") to Izzy's nervous breakdown while engaging in the biggest multi-species all-girl mudwrestling finale in skimpy bikinis ("I'm gonna kill you, you bitch!"). I admit when Cancer used it to describe Soolin in Blake's 7 I was surprised, but then, that's probably down to Cancer herself. If you've seen her "acting" you'll understand.
Hell: Used innumerable occasions, but the Ninth Doctor says "Bloody Hell" in The End of the World. And the Third Doctor in The Monster of Peladon.
Bastard: Infamously, this appears in three novelizations, and twice to describe the owner of the TARDIS. That's The Enemy of the World, The Gunfighters and The Invasion. Most notable is Ian Chesterton shouting, "Dr Who, you bastard!" in R. Shearman's "Deadline".
Cunt: well, the Eighth Doctor puns about it in Invaders from Mars...
Shit: No way.
Fuck: Uh-uh. (Unless Charles Daniels is involved anyway)

As to MY views on swearing, well I can only agree with a bit of advice Ben Elton's mother gave him - swearing can only ever be funny as an exclamaition, not a comma. Never a truer word spoken. Anyone who watched Team America World Police can see the writers, dizzy with freedom to swear and be vulgar, ultimately lose any dialogue between the oaths. South Park requires the characters to be wittier, simply because they'll be censored otherwise. Notably, DAAS Kapital manages to be the most disgusting thing EVER in its second year, and not swearing on screen once! I limit the oaths in The Youth of Australia (and nearly always it's Nigel).

Indeed, if you want to learn something about swearing, check out Shameless. In one of the most brilliantly executed moves ever, it shows a family who are vulgar, rude, swearing, promiscuous, drunken, drug-taking dole scum. But the whole point is that, after an episode or so, the reality comes through. Frank Gallagher is not "bad" or "rude" because he drinks and swears, he's "bad" and "rude" for the way he treats his children with contempt and lies to everyone for his own ends. He's not nasty for shagging a jailbait girl, he's nasty because he KNOWS that jailbait girl is his son's girlfriend. Shameless forces you to look past the surface, and once you do that, you realize how silly it all is, worrying about swearing...

And I admit, this whole post is just an excuse to avoid talking about the latest Torchwood episode...

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