You see, Mr Salt, I blame Hugh – Hugh Grant. It was his performance in the inspired opening scenes to ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ that bought the F-Bomb in from the cold, I reckon. From out of the mouths of Salt’s ne’er-do-wells and into the oral orifices of the mainstream it came and came again until now it is a torrent. You see Grant’s repeated utterances of the expletive, as he belatedly readied himself for an engagement, went a great deal of the way into making that vehicle for his limited, but exceedingly engaging, acting talents into a romantic, much adored classic.
Then along came Ian McShane who turned the F-Bomb into an art form. His late career signature role in ‘Deadwood’, as the aptly named Al Swearengen, made it a hit. His foul blasphemies, centred on the four-lettered once reviled word, as he orchestrated his latest dastardly deed, I have little doubt will ever be equalled, despite Peter Capaldi’s best efforts in ‘The Thick Of It’.
Now that f**k is off the leash, romping unrestrained in society, it is bringing, from the outer, like terms in in its wake. It is in everyday conversation, even though in living memory it was only once uttered by those beyond the pale. But, nowadays. even the c-word is getting in on the act. The question is: what will fill the void as the outliers of the English language? The candidates, as put forward by Salt, do not seem to roll off the tongue as well as those which were once ignored by truly proper people.
But, despite its popularity in the digital age’s vernacular, I, like BS, still in some circumstances, consider it offensive. I have ceased to be shocked by a f-word up on the big screen or down on the little, but still find it hard to take when popular music is repeatedly peppered with them. Something like ‘Little Lion King’ is fine, or the glorious refrain to ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ (No Way Get Fruited). But the abomination of some rap supposed tunes is a bridge too far, with it and other low-life terms, shouted out ad nauseam and with gay abandon, being an anathema to me. Nor do I prefer to use it in my everyday speech. I may, on occasion, utter it with a fair amount of liquid on board. I may quietly exclaim it to myself when untangling a knotty problem (usually associated with modern technology). But for some it seems it is as common now in everyday lingo as much as the ubiquitous ‘like’ between every phrase with the younger brigade is. For me, its continual usage by somebody marks that person as one that ideally I wouldn’t like to have any dealings with. Is that my age, or perhaps the teacher in me? Once upon a time I fought a losing battle against it in the school playground, but never tolerated it in my classroom. Perhaps it is because deep, deep down I may be just a tad prudish. I was certainly never brought up to use it and I too find it’s use by pretty young lasses quite confronting. I am sure the younger me would never have been attracted to such potty mouthed girls, despite the number of other attractive assets they may have had at their disposal.
So, yes, I am in Mr Salt’s camp here, being somewhat perplexed by its commonplaceness and being not prone to use it in my scribblings. And if anyone doesn’t like that they can, well, get fruitcaked!
Bernard Salt’s Column – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/on-the-offensive-the-fword/news-story/8f59619eacb94eec39ff0b2958401eb8