We’re all used to hearing and uttering the odd eff-bomb. With the recent ruling in Australia that yelling the ‘f word’ on public property is no longer offensive – because it is inserted in everyday language – we may wonder whether there’s any power left in potty-mouthed petulance.
There are some of us who may remember that Australian comedian Rodney Rude in the 1980s was considered ‘fringe’ because of his profane stand-up routines. Today, most comedians pepper their prose in the same vein and no one blinks – and we are bored. So bored.
The problem is when swearing is the norm, it becomes irrelevant. However, all great prose remains relevant – from generation to generation.
If profanity no longer has punch, why bother using it at all? I have often felt, in listening to comedians, that swearing is the last reserve of the unimaginative. It’s very lazy writing – and demonstrates a total lack of mental dexterity and imagination. The best comedians have an instinct for figurative language, and strong imagery. It’s the re-imagining of situational comedy that makes us laugh the hardest – and those who rely on craft, rather than crass, will last the longest.