On Swearing in Comics, and Swears in Pop as a Whole
posted by powerful.pineapple on 4th Dec 2011, 10:02 AM
I'd like you to watch a couple of videos before I get to the boring stuff.
I know what you're thinking. Marquis's hesitation handling (although apparently he got a foul called for it) is incredible, his moves are like water. And Kieth rocked the Turkey Day basket carnival hard. However, do you notice something else in contrast between these two videos (not the boys, whom I don't know, can't judge, and have only seen game footage of, and Ballislife does keep in the dramatic bits because it's entertainment)?
That's right. Marquis is portrayed as a small Kevin Garnett. The faces he makes, the intimidating appearances, the post-dunk actions are impossible to ignore. They are as distinct as his hardcore ability in the video. Kieth--well, he might be just as competitive, but this is the Thanksgiving Hoopfest, I dunno. But he'll put it in, and then run back down the court. All he does in this video is play, and play fine.
Swears are like the extra emotion in Marquis's video. Yeah, they're there, in with the essentials, part of his gamemanship, his personality, like Hiruma's in Eyeshield 21. They are in comics. They're in this comic, a fact I'm a little concerned about. Censorship is a big deal, but swears are unnecessary. The Quick and Dirty Tips podcast, The Modern Manners Guy, advises that 'Swearing is never okay', and it isn't.
We swear as kids because it's fun. We swear as teens because we think it's funny (Dane Cook and other lowbrow comedians have enforced this notion in our still developing brains). We swear as grown ups because it's a habit. This somewhat parallels smoking, and often swears are just as annoying to the people around you as if you'd just pulled out a cigarette and they all have respiratory problems and it's indoors at a children's party. Swearing isn't appropriate, and I had to flag this comic with a language warning because of it, possibly taking away a big audience. After all, I don't intend to have serious violence in Firework just yet, and it's mostly slapstick humor (however much sex is discussed, I put that in the dialogue because it's about teenagers). Even the teens who it's intended for may be annoyed by the swears, and it does get annoying.
So why didn't I **** out Natasha's epithets when the boys got to the office?
Natasha swears. This is her personality. I don't know, I guess I found it funny that a nurse/terrific student/athlete extraordinaire and leader of the team in points drops F-bombs like the guy in HBO 24/7 about the Penguins/Capitals. It doesn't make her a badass, it's a personality fault I gave her to represent the fact that it's not okay to swear if you're a nurse, if you're good at stuff, or if you have a 2008 ring on your finger like Kevin Garnett did when he called another team's player on-court a 'cancer patient/your performance is cancerous to your team" or whatever he said (Kevin Garnett apparently has tunnel vision that he turns off after the game and can't recall exactly what it was he said about a serious illness to an opposing team's player of a kid's game men are paid more than doctors to play on TV, even if he apologized later). It's never okay to make racist or sexist remarks intended to belittle or intimidate someone, refer to something serious as something lighthearted (look up Kenneth Clark radio 5 live gaffe...it's not just KG) or swear, but swearing is different because you're kind of insulting yourself while doing it, saying 'I enjoy profanity because I'm crude', even if you do it as a reflex after accidentally cutting into your pinkie with a power saw in your workshop when nobody is around.
However, swears seem to be sprinkled throughout Firework, and in the fully colored published for money version, I'll probably take them out because I want fourteen-year-olds to be able to read the funny stuff, and really, it just gets old. Will it be censorship? I guess. Will it improve the story? I don't know, did having the swears in improve it?
Swearing is something I still get called for doing. Swearing is often a large part of teenage life, though, so I think it's okay for the purpose of this webcomic. I sometimes wonder if it's waaaaay too much and I've just gotten accustomed to saying some swears so much that they don't even seem like swears to me anymore, like damn and ass. But, it's not a children's comic, it's a young adult comic, and Firework is about people and their bad/good characteristics, so cutting the swears would lessen the reality of it to me. These characters grow throughout the story, and throughout my novels featuring them, and this is one of the things that change.
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