Saturday, July 25, 2009

To Swear or Not To Swear--Is It Even Worth Asking?

Last night I watched recorded episodes of a program on Bravo called Top Chef Masters. The show is a spin-off of the popular show, Top Chef, a reality cooking contest that pits a number of chefs against each other as they take on cooking challenges. Each week, the losing chef packs his knives and goes home. The winner is the top chef of the year.

The master show brings four well-known (in culinary circles) chefs together for a one-time challenge. The winner will compete for the title against five other winners from other shows in the series .

In an episode I watched last night, from the moment he was introduced one of the male chefs had a potty mouth. It didn't matter if it was during his cooking, which I presume to be unscripted, or in the head-shot interviews that this type of show utilizes, his language was peppered with swears.

At first he wasn't beeped when twice he invoked the name of Jesus in a way I knew was no prayer and I cringed. Then, when he said a different word that I could lipread and he was beeped, I became even more disgusted. Why did the producers see fit to beep out the four-letter word, but thought it okay to leave in his blasphemous language against my Lord? But from that point on, the guy was beeped for the rest of the show, and I could at least watch the competition without being offended. But my pity for the man stayed with me.

What did he think when he saw the show? The other three chefs never said anything that required beeps, yet every time he was on camera, it felt as though I was on a New York City street from all the beeping. If others can control their language on a show, why not him?

Movie makers often say that they include swears in their scripts because it's the way people talk. Maybe a prison scene would be more authentic with bad language, or a battle scene in a war movie, but I really wonder how often that much swearing goes on in real life for a majority of people. I worked in the secular world for many years and, except on rare occasions, I never had to endure that much swearing.

The other day I came across a forum on the Internet where people were discussing if Christian fiction should include actual swear words. The consensus was that it wasn't necessary. The author can show through narrative that the characters are using rough language and do it in such a way that the reader knows the kind of language being used without being subjected to it. I suppose in a reality show, producers feel they have to keep the reality in by not asking people to refrain from swearing. I know most people can control their tongue if they know they need to. I'm willing to bet (if I were a betting woman) that this guy doesn't talk that way in front of his mother!

I hope I never become so deadened to the words from the overuse of potty language that I don't even notice it.

One thing I know for sure. You'll never find a swear in any of my stories. If the novel needs that kind of dialogue to sell it, it's not worth selling.


Winter said...

I'm sick of people swearing on shows that are supposed to be "family friendly". I know their reality shows, but I think if they have to bleep you out, then you shouldn't be on their show.

Or better yet, they bleep out words they consider too offensive for TV, but leave others that aren't "so bad". A swear word is a swear word. It's bad enough my kids have to hear classmates swear cause they hear it from their parents and TV, but at home I should be able to control it. I'm about ready to ban prime time programs at home.

Martha A. said...

If there was swear words in Christian fiction, I would have to cut way back on my reading as I hate swearing.....It just is not needed to live life!

Anonymous said...

"Why did the producers see fit to beep out the four-letter word, but thought it okay to leave in his blasphemous language against my Lord?"

Maybe because it is just YOUR lord. If the chef used the word allah instead, or satan, or baphomet, or zeus, or ki...would you still complain that the word wasn't censored?

Kimn said...

Ah, Anonymous' comment above just hit on a point that I have pondered, while Anonymous also inadvertently made your point, Pamela. No one "swears" by uttering "Allah," or "Oh, Buddha!" The fact that they do NOT disparage other dieties just proves that there is, indeed, something special about God and Jesus Christ. For me, and many others, this act of targeting only the Christian faith points unequivocally to its authenticity as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Anonymous said...

to kimn above.
jesus christ is used as a "swear word" or blasphemy in western society because westeners are most exposed to christianity. THATS why people shout jesus rather than zues; dont be so arrogant. your finding importance where you should be analysing context.
secondly, language (words) are simply a way in which people comunicate; attributing a word to a meaning, dispite what language is used, the intent remains the same. so whats the harm in swear words? wont change a thing, only the spelling...