The Online Community Of Christian Geek Central


    Language in Entertainment

    Share

    Rohelf

    Posts : 74
    Activity : 104
    Geek-Cred : 0
    Join date : 2010-07-08
    Age : 35
    Location : Louisville, KY

    Language in Entertainment

    Post  Rohelf on June 10th 2013, 4:48 pm

    I’ve been working on a novel for the last couple of months and while I’ve been stuck and discouraged recently, I’ve been looking at some of the things other Christian authors in the fantasy/sci-fi genres have to say online. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that many of these authors, even the ones who write the more gritty and edgy content, have a harder stance on language than they do on violence and sex. Characters will commit bloody murder and sleep around, sometimes even “on-camera,” but they’ll never utter a curse.

    This seems odd to me. To be honest, it’s almost exactly the opposite of my own personal boundaries in entertainment. I’m less bothered by an unnecessary swear word than by gratuitous gore or skin. I’ll admit that I’m a bit more liberal with the profanity in real life than I ought to be (probably because I was always “one of the guys” in high school and college and my male friends didn’t bother censoring themselves around me), but I had no idea this was such a big deal for some people, at least not as relative to other content issues.

    I’m concerned because while my story has fairly little physical violence and only a bit of innuendo in the sex department, the characters do curse, some of them frequently. The words employed are the milder ones, the ones that you can say with a PG-13 rating (the place of eternal torment and the means of getting there, scatological terms), as well as several things that I don’t personally consider cuss words, but that I know are deemed offensive language by some (son of unmarried parents, euphemisms for the sex act besides the F-bomb, frustrated appeals to the deity). Often the speakers are the heroes… the Christian ones are less casually profane, but still curse under stress. I’ve thought about this, and while I could go back and clean up the language a little bit, I think it would hurt the story and be untrue to the characters to completely sanitize it. One character in particular (very much NOT a Christian, but still a good guy) has a rather coarse mouth, and I just can’t see restricting him to a granny-safe vocabulary without making him not be who he is. But if the language is going to drive away the audience… well, is it worth slaving over to even write the thing?

    So, what do you guys think? Is profanity in entertainment a deal-breaker for you? If you think it's a bigger issue than sex or violence, can you explain why? Is this really that significant an issue for the geeky breed of Christian? Should I write the story as comes naturally, and just accept that it may not have much of an audience? How do you deal with this sort of thing in your own creative endeavors?

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3486
    Activity : 5022
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Paeter on June 10th 2013, 5:59 pm

    My guess is that this is ultimately a question of your audience. Who do you want to read this book? Tons of Christians? Then you're looking at cleaning it up.

    I'm confident that I've hurt my reach by making specific choices on content. "Dark Ritual" is disturbingly dark at times and a little sexy at others. I know that cuts out a significant number of listeners, even if they are both Christians and geeks.

    For some reason, language seems to be a trigger for a lot of people. I dodged that bullet by telling stories in essentially alternate worlds in everything I've done so far. But in my future plans for a modern "superhero" story I'm calling "Absolute Power", I'll have to figure out what to do with language, since it will be set in a very familiar modern setting.

    If you don't plan on presenting your work as "Christian", you can do whatever you want. If it is mainstream enough to be enjoyed by non-Christians, the Christian audience will hear about it eventually. I think this has been the case with an author like Brent Weeks.

    If you want to do both Christian-targeted content that is also rough in terms of language, you'll likely enjoy the creative freedom more, but I wouldn't plan on a publisher picking it up.

    The teaching from the pulpits of America just isn't strong enough yet.


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    45shiro45

    Posts : 37
    Activity : 45
    Geek-Cred : 2
    Join date : 2013-05-29

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  45shiro45 on June 10th 2013, 9:26 pm

    Do NOT clean it up! (In my opinion)...

    This is one of the reasons I stay away from Christian fiction in general. At the very least, it's absurdly unrealistic; at worst, you're simply kowtowing to the kind of trivial morality espoused by most American churches. I've never understood the American church's obsession with this issue. I can understand when the injunction is obvious (like taking the Lord's name in vain), but getting so offended about language that's simply modern slang and colloquialisms is asinine, especially when some words are fine and others are not when they mean exactly the same thing. Just another of many issues that make the World roll their eyes when we start talking about it, (and gives Jesus a black eye, to boot)...

    One of the best movies I've seen from a spiritual worldview (but not necessarily Christian) is called Ink. It starts with an emotionally distraught guy driving in his car yelling the F-word over and over in his rage and pain... Christian? Maybe not. Real? Absolutely. It goes quite a bit into spiritual warfare as well, but not necessarily biblically so. Reminds me a bit of what Lewis did in The Great Divorce. An "imaginative supposal", if I remember correctly... My point is just that the realistic depiction of how people actually speak and act in the real world (even in a fictional, sci-fi or fantasy context) goes a long way to making an impression for me.

    This has just been my opinion, and I know that other Christians feel very different about the issue. Paeter brings up a good point about intended audience and marketability as well... The best authors I've read always say to write the story you want, and to heck with whether or not anybody else likes it. Such a philosophy is slowly influencing me to finish my own novel, whether anybody else ever reads it or not...

    AND DON'T FORGET TO PRAY ABOUT IT!!! God knows much better than we do! ;-)

    And Paeter, regarding "Absolute Power", I'd tell you the same thing... Do what's real and true to the characters. If they're human beings, or even ETs, they're not perfect and maybe not even Christian. Cleaning things up for the "uptighty whities" just hurts the story... I'm looking forward to it regardless! :-)

    DNArington

    Posts : 547
    Activity : 731
    Geek-Cred : 28
    Join date : 2012-02-01

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  DNArington on June 11th 2013, 12:25 am

    Paeter wrote:
    If you don't plan on presenting your work as "Christian", you can do whatever you want.


    Perhaps it is just the way you worded this, but I disagree that you can do whatever you want when you are not targeting a Christian audience. Everything you create is representing your worldview (whether you know it or not), so I believe you should not create a story that contradicts what the Bible teaches. I'm not saying that you should make a story where people never sin. That would be boring, because there would be no conflict. I'm saying that in the end there should be a Christian worldview guiding where the story goes.
    As an example, I wouldn't write a story like Jurassic Park because that story is congruent with an evolutionary worldview, and that is helpful to no one. Granted that has an obvious (and somewhat heavy-handed) worldview, but I just wanted to point out one where the worldview behind the story is easy to see.

    Did you mean do whatever you want as far as language goes? Because there I would almost agree with you with the exception of using the Lord's name in vain. I think that is disrespectful in any circumstance, in real life or media or otherwise.

    I believe that people who create any kind of media (such as yourself) are wielding a great weapon that can be used for good or evil, so we need to be responsible with this power God gives to us. As we all know, "With great power, comes great responsibility." Or if you want a more reliable source consider Jesus' parable of the talents.

    I might be way off base here as to what you were meaning, and I am trying to write this in a respectful tone, but that is what popped into my head when I read that.

    DNArington

    Posts : 547
    Activity : 731
    Geek-Cred : 28
    Join date : 2012-02-01

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  DNArington on June 11th 2013, 12:45 am

    Sorry, that was pretty off topic. I think that it is fine for Christian Fiction to had language in it (as long as you are not taking the Lord's name in vain, as I stated earlier), and it don't bother me unless it is used in high propositions and/or is used for seemingly no reason (for example, almost anything Seth Rogen is in.) If I watch several movies with a lot of language in them I will sometimes find myself using those words, and I have to stop myself. I have a stronger aversion to sexuality in movies, than language, because lust is a temptation I might, but don't want to give in to.
    Honestly I think it depends on the person. Some people will struggle with this in their own life and in turn will and probably should avoid it, while violence or sexuality doesn't affect them as much and vice versa. It depends on where your strengths and weaknesses are and we need to build the walls in our minds accordingly.


    I'm sorry if none of this made sense; it is late and it made sense when I typed it. scratch

    Rohelf

    Posts : 74
    Activity : 104
    Geek-Cred : 0
    Join date : 2010-07-08
    Age : 35
    Location : Louisville, KY

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Rohelf on June 11th 2013, 11:41 am

    Thanks for the opinions so far. I've been trying to make sure I'm honest with myself on this, and not just attempting to justify doing the verboten thing purely to be edgy. It's been my experience in life that most people under the age of about 35, especially men, will employ the midler swear words liberally and casually when speaking to each other, without intending serious offence. Maybe this is an isolated quirk or cultural bubble that I grew up in, but given what I see in secular media, I don't think so. Is it right? Maybe not, but except in very conservative circles, more people do it than don't do it- just like people commonly speed, pirate media, goof off at work, and gossip. Creating whole teams of protagonists who never, ever commit these or any other minor wrongs without immediately repenting just rings false for me and honestly, strikes me as less Christian. After all, we are fallen. We do screw up, in big and little ways. Even if we're actively striving to do better, we will continue to screw up until the day we die. I would think more Christian fiction would want to show us flawed heroes, people who really need grace, and not just so they can magically become perfect when they get saved in the third act. Because that's NOT how it works.

    Paeter, I second the interest in Absolute Power. It sounds like it has the potential for awesomeness.

    Shiro, it's great you're writing, too! What is your work-in-progress about? Want to be peer review / writing accountability partners?

    DNArington, it's interesting you brought up the parable of the talents, because that's actually a big theme in this book- the proper use of our gifts, and how it's not the powers that make the characters who they are, but what they choose to do (and refuse to do) with them.

    Drew.Rub

    Posts : 503
    Activity : 611
    Geek-Cred : 18
    Join date : 2010-07-07
    Age : 43
    Location : Evansville, IN

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Drew.Rub on June 11th 2013, 2:29 pm

    I wrote some fan fic several years ago. I wasn't too keen on writing the actual swearing into my characters dialogue. When I could get away with it, I tended to write more of what they said, ie 'Alex let loose a string of curses that would have made his grandmother suffer a heart attack.' (not an actual line, but you get the drift).

    Of course, I was much younger then. Nowadays, despite trying so hard not to, I find myself still cursing. And I wonder about what I am reading/listening to when authors put objectionable language into their stories.

    I'm forced to admit that many times, the foul language just goes with the character, and generally with the pattern of the world. While I personally now try to exchange certain words with unreal word I've picked up from lots of Star Wars novels (stang and krif/kriffing being my two favorites), foul language tends to be a part of this reality.

    If your characters are not Christ following characters (although being one doesn't mean you WON'T swear), then write their speech and dialogues in a realistic manner befitting the setting. If the character is supposed to be a Christ follower, and course language is outside their personality, then leave it out.

    As for the audience, I think I would agree with Paeter on who it's aimed at. Mainstream readers probably won't have a problem (unless it's just gratuitous), and Christian readers will decide for themselves.

    ComiKate

    Posts : 288
    Activity : 366
    Geek-Cred : 21
    Join date : 2012-07-01
    Location : Netherlands

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  ComiKate on June 11th 2013, 4:16 pm

    Rohelf wrote:So, what do you guys think? Is profanity in entertainment a deal-breaker for you? If you think it's a bigger issue than sex or violence, can you explain why? Is this really that significant an issue for the geeky breed of Christian? Should I write the story as comes naturally, and just accept that it may not have much of an audience? How do you deal with this sort of thing in your own creative endeavors?
    Neither profanity, explicit sex or violence is a deal-breaker for me. But it must serve a function to plot, story and characters. The story has to grip me, so it should have at least some depth of character, intelligent, witty conversation and a very good, complex and adventurous plot. Preferably a great romance too.
    Then, as far as I'm concerned as a reader, your characters can do and say whatever they want and be as violent as you think is necessary, as long as it's consistent with their personality, belief system and character.
    Personally I don't like stories that are "cleaned up" to be "christian". I know others do though, so I guess you'll have to decide whether you want to please (certain) readers, or write the story you actually want to write. If both coincide, fine. If not, well, then I wonder if it's even possible for a writer to not wrtie the exact story he wants and still have it be a great story.

    To me personally, your character is either profane or he is not, but don't beat around the bush about it and please avoid a censored version of him/her. That would be boring and probably annoying as well. Imho. Wink


    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3486
    Activity : 5022
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Paeter on June 11th 2013, 5:43 pm

    DNArington wrote:
    Paeter wrote:
    If you don't plan on presenting your work as "Christian", you can do whatever you want.


    Perhaps it is just the way you worded this, but I disagree that you can do whatever you want when you are not targeting a Christian audience.

    It's long been my conviction that every sin imaginable is okay as long as you are not targeting a Christian audience. Last year I killed two people while writing a poem for a mainstream demographic. When not targeting Christian audiences I also find that I gain incredible super powers and "can do whatever I want".
    Wink

    Just kidding.

    No, actually the comment was intended to be taken in the context of determining your audience and what they will care about in terms of moral boundaries. Sorry that wasn't made more clear.


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3486
    Activity : 5022
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Paeter on June 11th 2013, 5:51 pm

    45shiro45 wrote:
    And Paeter, regarding "Absolute Power", I'd tell you the same thing... Do what's real and true to the characters. If they're human beings, or even ETs, they're not perfect and maybe not even Christian. Cleaning things up for the "uptighty whities" just hurts the story... I'm looking forward to it regardless! :-)

    Thanks, Shiro! I definitely do not plan on cleaning up characters' language that shouldn't be cleaned up. But I'd like to have my cake and eat it too if possible. So I'm dreaming up some creative options. One idea has been to present the story in a documentary style and actually use "beeps". Another is... well, hard to explain without giving away story and concept details I'm keeping a lid on for now. But rest assured, my aim, more than with any project I've done by far, will be stark, sobering realism. Easily my darkest story so far. But also the most uplifting, I think! Which the dark things like depressingly real characters make possible.

    So to bring this back to Rohelf's writing, I'd say the use of rough language can contribute to make your bright moments brighter. Even rough language is a creative tool that can be used to highlight the goodness and grace of God (or his stand in if you're dealing in metaphor).


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    45shiro45

    Posts : 37
    Activity : 45
    Geek-Cred : 2
    Join date : 2013-05-29

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  45shiro45 on June 11th 2013, 9:38 pm

    Rohelf wrote:Shiro, it's great you're writing, too! What is your work-in-progress about? Want to be peer review / writing accountability partners?

    I'd rather not say. It's an idea I've been formulating for the last ten years or so, but due to a rash of similar subjects in the last few years, it would honestly just look like I'm jumping on some wagon... :-/

    I'm afraid I need to wait another decade or so... :-)


    Regarding the rest of this thread, this subject is frustrating to me. Other than the explicit admonition in the old testament to not take the Lord's name in vain, what scriptures are there that condemn standard slang and colloquial speech to being the cardinal sin that most evangelical Christians take it to be? Some might say I'm just trying to excuse sin in my life, but honestly, if I slip and take the Lord's name in vain, I'm instantly convicted and confess it as sin. When I say the word "BS" appropriately when referring to sanctimonious, pharisaical religion when discussing such subjects with my wife (intending the strong emphasis, mind you), no conviction whatsoever.

    Are we as Christians really paying attention to what scripture says and where the Spirit leads, or are we simply being programmed by "cultural" Christianity with "rules made by men"? That to me is a much bigger issue than whether or not we might offend somebody whose Christian faith is based on a trivial morality instead of a biblical one...

    I just ran this post by my wife and she said it's free and clear of snark (I sometimes let it slip in), so I'm going to let this fly trusting that you guys know that I'm really not trying to bag on anyone's faith or be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. I really hope that everyone's faith and love grows and that in whatever we do we're moving closer to Christ!

    DNArington

    Posts : 547
    Activity : 731
    Geek-Cred : 28
    Join date : 2012-02-01

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  DNArington on June 11th 2013, 11:33 pm

    [quote="Paeter"]
    DNArington wrote:
    It's long been my conviction that every sin imaginable is okay as long as you are not targeting a Christian audience. Last year I killed two people while writing a poem for a mainstream demographic. When not targeting Christian audiences I also find that I gain incredible super powers and "can do whatever I want".
    Wink

    Just kidding.

    No, actually the comment was intended to be taken in the context of determining your audience and what they will care about in terms of moral boundaries. Sorry that wasn't made more clear.


    Haha...OK. I get what you were saying. When I read it the first time a red flag went up in my brain, so I wanted clarification. Thanks!

    PhoenixFire

    Posts : 44
    Activity : 67
    Geek-Cred : 3
    Join date : 2011-10-23
    Age : 23

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  PhoenixFire on June 24th 2013, 12:17 am

    I very nearly put away a book I was reading because it didn’t have language in it.

    I’m not really bothered by the use of language (except for the use of the Lord’s name in vain, or any variation of that) But I don’t really go looking for it either.

    There was one time however that I was reading one Christian book, where the evil Mastermind (who was part of a group trying to destroy Christianity) met up with his equally evil hired hit-man (who had just tutored an old lady to get some information), and over the course of the conversation, the Mastermind asked the hit-man what he thought of the groups goal to destroy the Christians and rule the world. The Hit-man responded by saying, and I quote “With all do respect, I don’t give a rat’s furry behind about your motives.”

    That lack of “language” from a character who’s not afraid of killing in cold blood and hurting innocents, instantly made me lose all respect for the character, and all remaining interest in the novel. (that was just one of many issues I had with it).

    The author must have felt that he needed some kind of language there, or else he wouldn’t have even gone there, but doing it half-hearted, or dare I say it, half-furry behinded (I‘m sorry, I tried not to, I really did) doesn’t accomplish anything.

    All that said, I’m still not sure how compelled I personally am to use language in my writing. I haven’t yet come to a situation where I feel like it would improve a scene or add depth to or fit any of my characters.

    In regard to the OP, and anyone else struggling with this issue, write what’s natural, write what you want to read, and the right audience will find you. Oh, and are you still offering peer review? I’ve been looking for some other writers feedback on some of my own projects, but most of my friends are too busy.

    Paeter wrote:
    Easily my darkest story so far. But also the most uplifting, I think! Which the dark things like depressingly real characters make possible.

    Sounds awesome! It’s always in the darkest stories that the light shines the brightest!!

    Paeter wrote: Last year I killed two people while writing a poem for a mainstream demographic.

    Now Paeter, you need to listen to me. Just because those people died while reading your poetry does not mean it was your fault! I’m sure there’s some other rational explanation as to what happened.



    Wink


    Last edited by PhoenixFire on June 24th 2013, 10:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3486
    Activity : 5022
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Paeter on June 24th 2013, 1:59 pm

    PhoenixFire wrote:
    Paeter Said wrote: Last year I killed two people while writing a poem for a mainstream demographic.

    Now Paeter, you need to listen to me. Just because those people died while reading your poetry does not mean it was your fault! I’m sure there’s some other rational explanation as to what happened.
    Wink
    No it was definitely my fault. The voices said, "Blood, not ink. And their blood is the sharpest." So I twirled my slipper-fang and then they were dead.


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    Rohelf

    Posts : 74
    Activity : 104
    Geek-Cred : 0
    Join date : 2010-07-08
    Age : 35
    Location : Louisville, KY

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Rohelf on June 24th 2013, 3:15 pm

    Phoenix Fire wrote:Oh, and are you still offering peer review? I’ve been looking for some other writers feedback on some of my own projects, but most of my friends are too busy.


    Sure, Phoenix.  I'll PM you my email, and you can send me what you're working on right now.

    PhoenixFire

    Posts : 44
    Activity : 67
    Geek-Cred : 3
    Join date : 2011-10-23
    Age : 23

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  PhoenixFire on June 24th 2013, 10:18 pm

    Rohelf wrote:
    Phoenix Fire wrote:Oh, and are you still offering peer review? I’ve been looking for some other writers feedback on some of my own projects, but most of my friends are too busy.


    Sure, Phoenix.  I'll PM you my email, and you can send me what you're working on right now.
    Awesome! Thanks!Very Happy


    Paeter wrote:
    PhoenixFire wrote:
    Paeter wrote: Last year I killed two people while writing a poem for a mainstream demographic.


    Now Paeter, you need to listen to me. Just because those people died while reading your poetry does not mean it was your fault! I’m sure there’s some other rational explanation as to what happened.

    No it was definitely my fault. The voices said, "Blood, not ink. And their blood is the sharpest." So I twirled my slipper-fang and then they were dead.


    lol!

    Sponsored content

    Re: Language in Entertainment

    Post  Sponsored content Today at 9:50 pm


      Current date/time is December 5th 2016, 9:50 pm