I was a bit amazed by the recent occurrence of Tom Hanks riffing his character from his upcoming movie “Cloud Atlas” and saying “fuck” on national daytime television when he slipped a little too far into character. More than the actual word, I was surprised by the reaction. Both Hanks and the interviewer covered their mouths and looked they got Brazilian waxes at the same time. And that made me think a little.
Freedom of speech is yes, to speak freely. Yes, there are children who may have been watching and no, I don’t agree with using swear words in front of them. And I also believe that speaking like band members from heavy metal rock groups (the word “fuck” is practically a substitute for every single word in the English language) is ridiculous and of limited creativity. But for someone like me who is very used to watching English television where they say pretty much everything and don’t have commercials, I have to wonder who are we protecting? Is it the parents or the kids? I remember quite clearly knowing swear words at 8 or 9 years of age but I knew better not to use them in front of adults because they’d get upset.
So I remember protecting them.
And then that got me thinking about that Usher song called “OMG” and how hokey “gosh” sounds in the sentences to protect certain sensibilities. Even “f-bomb” sounds hokey. Now, I went to Catholic school and understand the whole “taking the Lord’s name in vain” rule. But doesn’t it seem a little strange that you have to careful not to offend by using a word like “gosh” but we can burn the Koran and think that there will be no repercussions?