Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sex, violence and swearing

Something I've been meaning to blog about for a while.

Personally I'm not a fan of any of them in scripts, though I've written characters that swear, characters that commit horrendous acts of violence and sex scenes (the latter two in unpublished novels rather than scripts). I mention that I have written such things because I don't want you to think that I am, perhaps, a prude.

I have a mantra that I'm apt to vocalise whenever the subject comes up in conversation:

"Sex (or violence, or swearing) is completely unnecessary - except when it's essential."

Just because the majority of people swear does not mean there's any value in having characters swear because if they do it all the time then it has no value. But if they don't do it normally it becomes a significant character point when they do. (Having said that there is a character Tec who uses the F word casually on two occasions but then he's not a nice person and it adds emphasis because no one else does.)

I think most people agree that gratuitous violence is - well - gratuitous. I don't tend to watch particularly violent TV or movies (I'll never watch a slasher horror). But let's take Wallander that was on the TV last night **SPOILER COMING** a character kills himself by throwing himself under the tracks of a tank. I did not need to be shown the result but I was - the only thing I didn't like about the show.

People's imagination's are far better than reality (or any illusory version thereof) at scaring them. On the other hand the violence done to the victims in the same programme were relevant to the plot and were far more horrifying even though only the result was shown (because the crime had to be imagined, very un-nice). **SPOILER GONE**

Sex is the worst, in my opinion, unless it is absolutely essential it just kills any narrative drive for the sole purpose of audience titillation and an attempt to boost viewing figures. (Screen sex seldom bears any relation to what it's really like and when it does it's usually a comedy scene.)

That title is going to do wonders for the hit rate on this blog...

What's on the turntable? "Cruel Sister" by Pentangle from "Light Flight"

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