Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Curse Words at the Oscars

I have a love-hate relationship with curse words. First, they’re pretty fuckin’ fun to use, but I feel like they cast a shadow of lower class crassness over me that is specifically distasteful. Further, I feel that when other bitches misuse curse words, either due to the improper situation or actually, literally, misusing a curse word (“You shitting head!” or “Your ass is tits!” or any of a number of amazing ones I’ve heard come from foreign speakers’ mouths), I feel the same shadow creep up, and I hate it.
"Man, look at that beautiful fuckin' sky."

Curse words have become too acceptable in media. There was a point in time when using one meant that shit had truly gone DOWN, and that someone was about to get fucked up. They were still strong and sturdy phrases to use when the circumstances were right. But now, any old piece of shit can say them for a laugh, but they’re usually not funny. The infixes are still pretty un-fucking-believably funny, but that’s about it.

And that’s about all. See all of those I just used? With the exception of my infix, do any of those truly add to the experience? Does it make me sound clever? Am I edgy? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but that’s my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Basically my mom.
I’ve recently managed to see many of the 2014 Oscar Best Picture nominations, and I was appalled at how violently expletive most of them were, even when the subject matter didn’t call for it. I was not able to see Nebraska, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, or Philomena, but I did see the rest of them. American Hustle (long and boring) and The Wolf of Wall Street (long and hilarious) I expected to be curse heavy, but Her (long and interesting) and August: Osage County (long and depends on your mood – good performances, though) genuinely surprised me in their usage. I’m not entirely sure why, but whenever Meryl Streep curses, I cringe. Actually, I know exactly why: my mother is her doppelgänger, and my mother doesn’t curse.

I was raised not to curse, not because they’re bad words, but because they can make you look like a fool, or like someone not worth speaking to. Others’ perceptions of you change when you curse (outside of the correct situation, anyway). Obviously, I curse. My brother curses. So do my friends. Just about everybody curses. But I only curse for effect, or in a fit of anger or passion, never casually. Not since college, anyway.

But my point is that I would have enjoyed Her more if there had been no cursing, or less of it. It’s kind of a cute love story (that exactly parallels the primary subplot of Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind, perhaps accidentally on purpose) with cute, somewhat naïve characters, but there was so much casual swearing in it that I couldn’t appreciate much of the dialogue, especially when the main character is lauded for being so excellent and tender with words, but sounds like an idiot when he curses for no reason. Cursing demeaned the movie. It lowered my opinion of it.

But there were times when cursing would have helped, too. The primary conflict and the ultimate conflict ended up being entirely different, but it would have felt more natural if, during the climaxes of those few scenes, there was some cursing. Whereas in the other, lighter scenes, it comes out of the blue and personally makes me go, “huh, that was dumb.” It made me like the character who said them much less. And it made me like Joaquin Phoenix's character a lot less, just for his having anything to do with people like that. It all really comes down to poor writing, poor direction, or poor ideas. Which is too bad. But it won't win the Oscar, anyway. And that's good.

I couldn't not use this.

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