Swearing

ITV chairman Michael Grade 

Swearing is a subject close to my pysche and, since I read something by Stephen Fry in which he swore blind to stick to swearing because he enjoys it, I’ve become even more addicted to it.

But like all behaviour, some people like it and some people don’t. Sometimes it’s inappropriate. Sometimes you can’t help yourself. Since the Jonathan Ross/Andrew Sachs row last week, swearing on TV and radio has been under the spotlight although, let’s face it, it’s a perennial topic for the ‘country has gone to the dogs’ brigade who read the Mail and Telegraph.

The ‘debate’ about swearing was further stoked on Monday when ITV chairman Michael Grade was asked a question at a BPG lunch with journalists. Grade complied by saying “the prevalence of the F-word is a little bit unrestrained”.

Before we go on, can we just stop being lazy and say something true for a moment? Standards of behaviour and language aren’t slipping. That’s a subjective, pejorative judgement. Standards are CHANGING – they are always changing. Language can be offensive, always will be, but it’s a moveable feast. That’s why we have editors and people to make judgements about what is or isn’t appropriate in a certain context. (Except on a blog, of course, where’s it’s just me fucking things up.)

For Christ’s sake (sorry, Christians), if we eradicate all comment or entertainment that is potentially offensive to some people from our airwaves we will merely be left with Richard Allinson, Ken Bruce and Fiona Bruce (no relation). Then I will have to kill myself. Barack Obama winning the US election is wonderful; but who and what is broadcast on the BBC that I pay for has far more immediate impact on my life. I look at the Mirror’s ‘Stop Swearing on the Telly’ campaign and shudder.

While I’m ranting, Radio 2 has made a mistake with Michael Ball on Sunday lunchtimes. I wasn’t a fan of Parky who was super-annuated and had started slurring his words as old people somtimes do. But Ball is just a chubby singer who is presumably popular with ladies of a certain age. His interview with Philip Glenister last Sunday exposed Ball as woefully unwitty and poorly educated. Get him off. Glenister would be better, though I doubt he’d do it.

Can’t comment on other TV/radio stuff as I am truly disenchanted with the whole blinking lot and not watching/listening to much. Won’t get to see Mock the Week tonight as I’m socialising. Missed Little Dorritt as I was in a TV-free house last week. Will try to find them on the iPlayer if I can be arsed.

Share

7 thoughts on “Swearing

  1. You are right. Swearing is such an easy scapegoat. It is also not a homogenous act – it takes many forms. Granted there’s your vulgar, tactless, uncouth and overdone swearing, but there’s also luxurious swearing, empowering swearing, sexy swearing and of course totally necessary swearing! Which type does the Mirror want to eradicate? I dearly hope not all.

    Tits!

  2. The BBC’s DG was pretty robust about bad language in last Sunday’s Observer.

    I think there is a general feeling that the new-ish sensibility of reflecting the way people actually speak to each other in real life is a good thing, but it should always be considered in context.

    Acceptable in drama and comedy providing it adds to characterization or tone of narrative.

    Perhaps not so acceptable in speech radio or in other situations where a presenter’s voice is ostensibly that of the BBC or other broadcaster. People go on about a lack of politeness in society. Swearing in public is part of that, and broadcasting is pretty public isn’t it? I think when presenters lose sight of that, standards are also slipping.

    Love the blog – keep it up.

  3. “While I’m ranting, Radio 2 has made a mistake with Michael Ball on Sunday lunchtimes. I wasn’t a fan of Parky who was super-annuated and had started slurring his words as old people somtimes do. But Ball is just a chubby singer who is presumably popular with ladies of a certain age. His interview with Philip Glenister last Sunday exposed Ball as woefully unwitty and poorly educated. Get him off. Glenister would be better, though I doubt he’d do it”.

    What a completely condesending remark (ladies of a certain age indeed).I am 19 crikey, and my friends and I enjoy the show very much. I wouldn’t have listened Parky as I found the music very limiting and predictable. Now the music is more varied and the interviews more relaxed. I thought Michael Ball’s interview with Phillip Glenister was very good, I thoroughly enjoyed it as I have many other interviews since he took over from Parky back in April. Long may he continue.

  4. All views welcome, Tara, and you’re probably right to defend Mr Ball. I think he was having an off day. He did announce one emailer’s name as ‘Helvetica Bold’ which is the name of a font, so must have appeared at the top of the print out he was reading from. Hence me suggesting he was ignorant. I agree Parky was limited. Mr Ball has a stay of execution for now – like we have any say in the matter anyway!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *