Recently I was kicked out of an online writing group (Litopia) for starting a discussion about bad language. Also, my other blog on WordPress, Cool Root, where I house some excerpts from my plays and novels, became inaccessible through Facebook and was marked as pornography. This, I suppose, is a question of word searches. If the software finds four letter words then the site is labeled as porn. My characters occasionally use florid language like this because… that’s just the way they talk, and not necessarily in anger. I haven’t graduated to sci-fi yet so I can’t use ‘fracking.’ My characters are often contemporary and urban so they use f-words and other rich and expressive language as part of the rhythm of their speech.
I have a theory as to why this happens — something to do with producers and guardians of popular culture often seeing authentic expressions of the commonplace as upsetting and/or less lucrative than the cleaned-up, air-brushed stories that have nothing to do with the days of our lives — but suffice it to string together a few dicta:
1. Pornography grows out of a repression of sexuality, and a general inability to develop healthy and relaxed attitudes toward it in day to day life. If we weren’t so afraid of bad language and body parts, there would be less if any pornography.
2. Popular culture in an age of consumerism is necessarily bland, anemic and inoffensive in order to reach the most people and consequently make the most money.
3. Internet communications, if cleaned up in this way — which seems to be what is happening — will do the same damage that Disney has done, that is, by sanitizing its popular storytelling, in both language and its representations of the commonplace, it has taken away the chance of enriching our relationship with the real, and perhaps has even denied viewers the possibility of catharsis.
4. In this way — in the context of an absence of catharsis — it is possible to argue that Disney and other sanitizers of our popular culture are responsible for the violence in the streets of the US. (Look at cultures where there are overt, popular cathartic events: bullfighting in Spain; violent adult comic strips in Japan… and compare the relative violence in their streets.)