Saturday, June 8, 2013

Swearing/Cursing In Teen Fiction; Why It's Necessary, And When It's Overkill

** Hello! I'm probably in Paris by now! I really wish I could post while I'm here, but I've got too much to do! I'm here with my choir representing my lovely home, and I'm sure I'm having a stellar time. Phantom of the Opera in the London Theatre?(One of my favorite books ever) I can't wait to tell everyone. This is my first time out of the country and I'm quite nervous to say the least. I'm writing this before my camp in Ada, OK where I'm learning SIXTEEN songs. Yikes. I'll be in the UK, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. Crazy, huh? I'm performing five times in fantastic Cathedrals and gardens and I cannot wait to share my experiences with you all. My camera will be glued to my face, so many pictures will be in the next post. Be prepared... I'm so ecstatic, and I can't wait to hear your comments on this one, it will help me out in some character development for my dystopian.

Alrighty, So I've been wondering people's opinions on this subject. Is cursing O.K. for teens? I'm not talking about little twelve to fourteen year-olds, but people my age.(New drivers)  This maybe not true everywhere, but cursing is prominent in my circles, and I hang around some pretty good adolescents. It's not usually in front of adults, or parents, but I just don't see the problem with using such language in the same situations in a work of fiction. From previous research, there was a whole lot of fuss about it in teen literature.

If it's appropriately used, is cursing bad? When someone is genuinely upset, whether young or old, they might say some not so nice language that you wouldn't want to say in front of your grandmother.(Not true to my grandmother; she taught me everything I know in the ways of foul words.) There are some great works that over use colorful words like The Catcher in the Rye, and most of Quentin Tarantino's films. These are enjoyable, though filled with "bad" words (How could a word be bad? it's just a word), and they really aren't affected by the language. Now, some comedies use cursing to be humorous instead of making a point that they're upset or feel strongly about a subject.

 Granted, every time someone drops the F-bomb and it's not directed towards me, I enjoy a good laugh. Every once in a while, I'll say something inappropriate just because I know it will bring a friend or group to tears; because I am that hilarious.(Not really.)

If/When a character is portrayed as a villain or bad guy and they're the only ones who are swearing; that just seems like an inaccurate way to display an antagonist. Swearing should not be every other word, and it should not be used to make someone look bad or evil. Swearing should be used to capture someone's attention, and it usually does or it would not have stirred up so much trouble like Banned Books and what not. Should kids run around shouting screw you to their parents or any other authority figure? NO. But I think that some young adult books should not be bashed for accurately portraying what young adults wound say or how they would react to a situation.

What do you think? Am I just totally biased due to my age?   Am I a little hellion? Am I just crazy? Because I don't react well when people call me crazy. Or am I correct in my ways? Help me please! I value all of your opinions.


Unknown said...

Wow, what a lucky girl to be singing in all those wonderful places - pictures, promise??

Here's my 2 cents on your dilema: don't lie. Kids curse, deal with drugs and booze (whether or not they use it) they think/have/had sex -- it's normal, it's about growing up, don't lie about it.

I'm way past my young-adultness, and I've never been a fan of squeaky-clean teens in books. 1) they don't really exist and 2) if they do, they're usually not the type of people you want to write about in a book.

I've been young, I've always cursed like a sailor and I've turned up ok (kinda) - let your characters drop a few f-bombs at crucial moments, like you youngsters do in real life,a and everything will be just good:)

Jordan Dane said...

I cursed like a sailor when I was in elementary school. Cursing and especially the F-bomb are a coming of age thing for some kids, to test their limits. Personally I think it's appropriate in fiction, depending on how realistic the author wants to portray an array of kids. If the cussing is missing though, readers may not notice, as long as the emotion is there.

Parents, teachers, and librarians may find certain levels of profanity or explicit scenes as objectionable, however. Your book could get snubbed for recommended reading lists if that's important to you. I find it rather peculiar that a book could get unwanted attention for cursing, but one that involves violence and killing makes the cut as recommended. As a kid, if there was something I wasn't supposed to see or read, I found a way to do it anyway. That pesky coming of age thang.

Great post, Morgan. Man, what a wonderful opportunity for you to see the world through music. You're amazing. We really need to see pics when you get back. Flash fiction, baby. Tell us a story with your favorite images.

Jordan Dane said...

I knew there was a reason I like you, kindred sista from another mista. Ha!

Jordan Dane said...

I wouldn't call you your face.


Anonymous said...

Crazy????For sure, chicka!!!!! I could not be prouder of you! Keep up the hard work! Love- Your #1 fan...Mrs. Reinke :)))))

Starr K @ The Literati Press said...

For what it's worth- be true to your character. If they curse than they do, if they don't -they don't. I point you to Tap Out by Eric Devine. If he had written that without the characters cursing it would have been a disservice to the audience, especially anyone who knows anything about the world of MMA. (It's a YA title.) Yes, there are times when it can be overdone and abused. But it's easy to read the difference between a character's voice and the author using certain words for shock value. Write honestly, and authentically and your audience will appreciate you for it. Okay, well I can't speak for the entire world of readers, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Sechin Tower said...

It's funny, but I think YA lit steers clear of swearing so that it can be deemed appropriate by parents, librarians, etc. But young people use plenty of naughty language, only they like to hide it from adults.

So the kids and their parents are both trying to protect each other from the same thing. I'm not sure that counts as irony, but it sure is funny.

Even so, it's a tricky line to walk, as many parents won't buy a book with harsh language. On the other hand, there are books like Sherman Alexi's "Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" that has language that would shock anyone of any age (including racist jokes and a page dedicated to the discussion of masturbation) and yet that book is critically acclaimed and is taught in schools.