Today I wanted to discuss with you all foul language in book reviews.
Be advised, this post will contain the occasional vulgar word that for those with a delicate disposition may cause your eyes to bleed, sensitive flowers you have been warned.
I swear in real-life, let’s be honest, most of us do, even those of us who paint ourselves as holier than thou, will have at some point said a swear word in our lives. Do you agree? We’re all friends here, gimme a hell yeah if you’ve said a swear word, better yet gimme a fuck yeah! Don’t worry, you won’t get stoned or blasphemed for admitting it, my blog is a safe haven of anything goes, and your dirty, vulgar, filth infested potty mouth will be safe here.
In today’s day and age swearing is one of the most miniscule offences about, yet people still take offence to it. Perhaps at times it’s a generational thing, what was taboo back then is simply common place now. However, there’s those of us from all age groups who don’t have an issue with swearing, and likewise, there’s those of us from all age groups, who do.
I started blogging on March 5th 2016, for that whole year I didn’t swear in my reviews, there’s probably a few poems that I wrote that include swear words, but that’s different, they deal with personal feelings and demons, if I want to write ‘fuck the world‘ in a poem that bleeds emotion, that’s my choice.
Anyhow, back on track, I swear in real-life, it’s the lesser of my two evils, sarcasm is by far the worst! I tried my best to keep it out of the blog and my reviews, it was something that I chose to do, same for the sarcasm, though that sure crept in quickly in various posts. Each time I wrote a swear word in a drafted review, I’d end up changing it, or cutting that part of the review out, I was never sure how it came across, and I didn’t want to intentionally offend anyone by using foul language, I guess, I was scared to swear, and I shouldn’t have felt that way, not when lots of the books I read contain language that would make a sailor blush! And really, who gives a shit if a book review contains some profanity?!
I started to feel jaded by blogging a while ago, just after celebrating my one year blogging anniversary. Don’t worry, the lack of swearing in reviews didn’t contribute to my feeling jaded, this post isn’t that convoluted, there was a myriad of factors that helped attribute to my blogging burnout, all of far more import and consequence.
I took a weekend away, got back into reading, and in recent reviews, The Mirror’s Truth and Skitter, I’ve found myself swearing in the review, not a long diatribe of various swears similar to: fucking shit, shit shit shit, shitting fuck, fuckity fucking fuck, shit balls! While I’m not the most eloquent, my vocabulary does contain more than just swearing, and I can even string sentences together. So, not like the previously mentioned example, but swearing to describe things, for the trio of main characters in The Mirror’s Truth I referred to them as ‘black-hearted bastards‘ and in Skitter I used ‘big ass hairy mother fuckers‘ to describe spiders. Just phrases, to add some vibrancy, some colour here and there, a bit of sauce and flavour to what would have been an otherwise vanilla review, the addition is simply me being true to me (sorry Mother, your son doth swear).
After all, we hear these types of phrases nearly every day, most of us will have heard of the saying ‘when the shit hits the fan‘, if we want, shouldn’t we be able to use a saying like that, instead of changing it to something far more PC like ‘something bad happened‘ in our reviews without feeling like we’ll be vilified by others just for the use of profanity.
Before I felt jaded, I wouldn’t have written the swear words, I’d have edited them out, so what changed?
Well……I did. Writing reviews isn’t the easiest thing, it’s not for me anyway, please tell me I’m not alone people?! I was stopping myself being me, I’d write something like ‘fucking awesome‘ and then change it to ‘really good‘, even though in real-life I’d have said the former, not the later. Then something clicked, I’d lost my enjoyment in blogging. I’m not saying that the occasional swear word in a review/post has rekindled that enjoyment, it’s got nothing to do with it, what it has done though is, now I’m not worrying about changing the words in drafts anymore, thinking to myself ‘I can’t write that‘. If I swear, I swear, it’s not a big deal, someone might take offence, but the world won’t end. Writing what flows when I’m drafting out the post, not stopping and questioning, can I say that? Should I use that word? It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s freeing to just feel like I can write what I want, writing what comes naturally, and if anyone takes offence, it’s their choice, I’ll respect that, and they can respect that my choice on occasion is to swear.
As individuals we should be able to write what we want, if the swearing is deemed unprofessional, then so be it, I’m not a professional anyway, just a book lover with a blog. We hear profanity and far worse things (all the various religious doctrine, phobias and isms) every day of our lives, be they from other people, TV and/or films, often for films regardless of their age rating a swear word or two will be included, hell, I bet even some cartoons use foul language.
And let’s not forget that most genre of books also include the occasional smattering of profanity, we read it, so, if we choose to, why shouldn’t we write it? We’re all adults, granted, some of us are more mature than others, I fall into the immature category myself!
Point is, we’re not the equivalent of a 5 year old child who has heard Mummy yelling at Daddy, calling him a ‘fucking jerk‘, then going of to school, repeating this cool new word we heard at home and getting in trouble. No, we are adults, and we are capable of making an informed decision ourselves on if we choose to swear on our own blog or not.
Obviously books catering to a younger audience won’t use profanity, you aren’t likely to see ‘shithead‘ written in a book aimed at children, what you’re more likely to see is it substituted for something child friendly, or PG (just like WWE, gotta keep it PG folks) and replaced with a name like ‘poopy doo doo head‘.
For adult orientated genres though, crime/thriller/mystery, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi and horror certainly all include swearing. The fantasy genre I frequent, particularly the grimdark sub-genre has plenty of swearing, be they made up swears, similar to the various ‘Hood‘ curses from Malazan Book of the Fallen, or ‘Corespawn it‘ from The Demon Cycle Saga, all the way back down to that old-fashioned favourite, the word ‘fuck‘ that is littered throughout the pages of various books, it’s certainly found its way onto lots of pages in my current book, that’s grimdark for you, blood, gore and profanity.
PLEASE don’t get me wrong, my reviews and posts aren’t going to become profanity laden, or constantly littered with swearing, most won’t include any, there’s a lot of mitigating factors involved, how I feel when I’m writing, how I felt about the book, even what genre the book is could come into play, profanity in a review for a grimdark review would feel natural, as it’s grimdark, lots of swearing in that genre. If I feel a swear word or phrase describes what I’m trying to convey though, then from now on I’ll be using it.
I know a few other bloggers use profanity in their reviews, and also that lots don’t, it’s a personal choice, every blogger is different.
But for swearing in blog posts, is it, and should it be an issue?
My answer to both is simply NO, it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be an issue either. As readers we don’t take offence to authors including foul language in their books, or profanity in any other form of media, and as such we shouldn’t take offence to bloggers including foul language in their posts. It’s a personal choice by the blogger if they choose to use profanity or not when expressing themselves, who are we to say it’s wrong, or the profanity laden version, who gives a fuck!
I’m not saying that everyone should swear in their blog posts, all I’m saying is that if you want to then it’s OK, nothing bad will happen, just like if you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, or listen to Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber, we won’t judge you!…….well, for the swearing we won’t, the other things we might! 🙂
So, my fellow bookish people, what do you say, is foul language a turn off? Do you use it? Do you have a problem with it? Will you stop following a blog with profanity in the posts? Or do you just not care?
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