Sunday, December 15, 2019

A critique on the use of profanity in The Expanse: Season 4.

The Expanse Season 4 has arrived on Amazon Prime without skipping a beat and with what appears to be an even greater production value. My only caveat is the overuse of "fuck" in the episodes. I have learned from experience that when you have characters use language like that just because you can, it actually does nothing to improve the storytelling and feels lazy. Think about how you may use that word or other words like it in your personal life. I don't know anyone who speaks using profanity for no good reason. Now you have this one character who plays the head of the UN and she says the word so many times it not only degrades her character, but it seems unrealistic especially after three previous seasons where she never uttered anything remotely like that. Granted it was on basic cable previously, but what politician would swear so openly in an office that demands an image of dignity, congeniality and respect? 

The only time a curse word should be used is either to punctuate a scene and give it additional meaning or to define a character moment. Tarantino and especially David Mamet use profanity in their dialogue so it fits these situations and appears organic. Just because you can say something vulgar doesn't mean you should use it. This is an important lesson for anyone who writes drama or fiction. Write your scene or story out how you would normally and include as many curse words you like. Now read it out loud to yourself. Then remove all the profanity and read it out loud again. If it doesn't feel like the exclusion of those words makes a difference then don't include them.

(C) Copyright 2019 By Mark A. Rivera
All Rights Reserved.