Earlier in the week, I attended a media screening of The World’s End; the latest British comedy from Shaun of the Dead creators Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. The film was pretty amusing, but the main thing I took away from it was the repeated utterance of the “C” word. This got me thinking about my British buddies currently living in Australia — to a man (and woman) none of ’em shy away from using this word, which is generally regarded to be the most offensive and misogynistic swearword in the English language. So what gives?
Now, granted, when most Brits utter the “C” word it’s usually accompanied by a comedic and/or affectionate tone — but the fact remains that the word still packs plenty of wallop in the English-speaking world, especially in mixed company. (Larry David does a fabulous riposte of this social faux pax in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Swearing ensues, obviously.)
Indeed, even in “C-word friendly” England, the producers of The World’s End took the step of contacting the British Board Of Film Classification to see what they could actually get away with.
“We are writing a script at the moment where the word ‘c**t’ appears several times…All very much in a naturalistic, social context rather than an aggressive, threatening one,” Edgar Wright explained in a letter to the censors. “Is it the case that using the word more than once would push the film from a 15 to an 18? Love to find out what the guidelines are. Thanks for any help on this one.”
The BBFC replied to Wright that extreme language can be passed if justified by the context:
In terms of context, it is more likely that we would pass throwaway, matter-of-fact, or comic uses than uses that are aggressive, personally directed, or accompanied by complicating factors such as violence, threat, racism, or a power imbalance.
In other words, jokey use of the word is acceptable even if a film has been classified as suitable for 15-year olds.
Call me a prude, but the pseudo-gentrification of this word upsets me a little. Whenever I travel next to a bunch of rowdy teens on the way home, it seems to pepper their language to an off-putting degree — even in the “quiet” train. I can’t help but feel that the “lovable” geezers in British movies and TV shows are at least partially responsible for this. Not to mention our British mates down the pub.
We want to hear what our readers think, especially if you originally hark from Britain — is it perfectly acceptable to pepper your speech with this vile epithet? Or is it a telling sign that moral values are slipping to a point where nearly anything goes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
NOTE: Lifehacker reserves the right to backflip on social mores as they relate to language as it suits us. You c-[snip! — Ed.]
[Via: Edgar Wright Here]