Monday, December 20, 2010

Double Standards by Morgan Mandel

I swear too much, at times when I really don't need to. Usually it's when people don't hear me, or around people that don't mind.

I didn't used to be this way, but somehow the older I got, the more I let fly with words I  never would have used when I was younger, even in my teens or twenties. Maybe it's the reverse with some people, I don't know.

Surprisingly, when I read a book, I hold the main characters to higher standards than I practice myself. I'll stop reading a book if the person I'm trying to identify with is constantly using four letter and other choice words, though I don't mind reading them for effect.

What about you? Do you have double standards about the characters you read or try to identify with? It doesn't have to be only about swearing, but other areas as well.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/

11 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

I raised four daughters and never used swear words around them or anyone else, but I don't mind four-letter words in print as long as it's not the F word, which turns me off.

Jean Henry Mead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mona Risk said...

The fporbidden words are changing. I recently learned from my 6 and 4 year old that 'Nonna, you should never say stupid. You can say silly.' Oh yeah, what's wrong with stupid? I like it better than silly!!

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Morgan,

I've been known to swear a bit, though I was/am careful about when and where I do it. Sometimes, only a swear word will do, you know?

I used to be offended by some swear words, but I've been hardened by TV, movies, and books so that I don't cringe at certain words anymore. Whether this is good or bad, I don't know, but it is the truth.

Fiona said...

I sub in high schools. If you are offended by swear words, then don't ever walk down a high school hallway during passing period! But I do tell the kids to leave those words out in the hall, and not to use them in my classroom...time and place, ladies and gentlemen, time and place. My young adult kids like to say they learned to swear while riding in my van, because I'm very colorful about the driving style of those I share the road with! I tell them I grew up in a large Polish family that used swear words as punctuation. They only switched to Polish when they noticed I was sitting with them listening. My Dad was from Scotland so he was as unhappy as I was when I didn't understand the punch lines of dirty jokes!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

No, I don't have double standards between my life and what I read in books.

Heather Haven said...

The only double standard I have is how some protagonists can stay up all night, drink a gallon of hard liquor, eat no food, keep running, jumping and leaping on a case, and find a parking space right in front of any building they need to enter. Did I mention they never seem to have to go to the bathroom, either? Hmmmm.

David DeLee said...

When my kids were younger I watched what I said in front of them, now at 16 & 19 they've heard a lot worse than anything I can come up with.

As for in fiction, I think it needs to be appropriate to the characters and the context of the story. The language one uses must be reflective of the character being portrayed, or at least have a purpose.

Cheryl said...

I will say that I swear like a sailor, though I curb that around the girls. I guess I do have some double standards, not really in fiction writing, but when reading Stephen King's memoir, I found his overuse of the F word distracting. Melissa Gilbert's memoir was worse. The cuss words came out of nowhere. There were several lines of eloquently written prose, and then boom, a nasty word popped up. Some of the words in that book are even beyond what I would use.

I believe we get an unfair perception for who a person is, and then when they are different, it is difficult for us to accept. That doesn't happen as much with characters.

Cheryl

Willie Holmes said...

I don't curse as much as I used to, but don't have a problem with hearing it on TV, in movies, or reading it (oddly, though, I get offended by it in music). I often use it in my own writing, much to everyone's surprise who reads my work.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Word choices reflect characters, but also gauge readers. Compare Jerry Springer's audience to those attending the opera and you get the idea. In writing, it's okay to use "adult words", meaning words with depth -- not cussing, because readers can look them up, rather than give curious looks.