Expletives not quite so deleted

Today I spent an hour or so editing together a script of segments from Dennis Kelly’s ‘After the End’, the show I directed in November, for a societies show case in January. Each society presents a showcase of their work lasting 10-15 minutes, the show case is also ‘family friendly’. Kelly’s play, as anyone who knows it will surely agree, is not ‘family friendly’; in fact I am sure for many who have seen it, it is not even friendly. So, during my edit I cut out as many cunts as I ever have. A sentence that I assure you I have never said before. So I spent a fair amount of time musing on whether swear words have crept into our vocabulary just a little too much – I know that any swear box I had would fairly rapidly earn a decent wage. But then swearwords, when used at the most opportune moment, can often be the most satisfying and delicious means of expression available. Perhaps it has something to do with their sense of taboo, their naughtiness (although I suppose this is arguably disappearing in this day and age). But, they seem to contain within them something of the visceral and, I think I can say this, even sensual?

They’re animalistic aren’t they? An expression of anger, intense emotion more eloquent than a caveman-esque grunt. They’re not your romantic evening in,  but more akin to your sordid affair in red satin sheets. Which moves me on quite nicely to our old favourites cunt and dick. Why use names for genitalia as swear words, is there some implication here that these articles are as offensive as the words have now become? Perhaps we want to make these words, when hurled at someone, as offensive as waving your genitals in their face. But this comes across as comical, a turn on (depending on the manner of waving, obviously) or just plain offensive to the poor little genitals.

The relation between the swear word and the object really is a mystery, perhaps an example of the old Derridean signifier – signified chestnut. Maybe, hidden behind the swear word is an intended erotica and we’ve just lost this in our everyday usage. I’m all for swear words, but perhaps we should consider how we use them, and when. Perhaps we should wait for the most opportune moment, for a time when nothing but a good old fuck will do.


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