Man, I loves me a good curse word. Really, I do. I know the old saying that profanity is the last refuge of the unintelligent (or something), but to me, the whole idea of curse words are a grand proof of the existence of a social contract.
We have all agreed, tacitly but universally, that these words have power. Why these scant handful above others is a semantic mystery. Some are, allegedly, acronyms for crimes of passion, others acronyms for immigration status (though I suppose wop—with out papers—is more of a slur than a curse). A rather significant one is tossed off as punctuation in one culture, but carries the heft of a spiked hammer in the US.
I'm of two minds: While I like the idea of words that hold power, I don't believe that, in and of themselves, they should. As someone whose job, both day and night, revolves around words and their usage, I've always felt that no word is better or worse than another. Only right or wrong, depending on the situation.
But that's not the world we live in, and I'm okay with that. It is handy to have words that, with a little help, can dive directly to the heart of the matter. It's emotional shorthand. Personally, I don't trust people who don't use profanity—it's as if they believe themselves exempt from that social contract. (Plus, they don't understand the power of a well-placed curse. When I was a kid, I sat down with my parents to watch Bill Cosby: Himself. One of the smartest, cleanest stand-up concerts you'll ever see. But when Dr. Huxstable lets slip a perfectly timed "asshole," it makes you sit up and take notice.)
It's one of the reasons why Battlestar Galactica is such an accomplished investigation of the human condition. It realizes that people reeling from the almost complete annihiliation of the human race would, most definitely, drop a few F-bombs now and again. And, as Sci-Fi Channel publicist Lana Kim reminded me after she introduced me to Grace "Boomer" Park, frak is a four-letter word.
Okay, really, this post is just a very long excuse to say that I met Grace Park last night, while attending the US Open as a guest of the USA Network. And she's funny, charming, and stunning in real life and, as she hugged me good-bye. I couldn't help but think that if she were not a spoken-for, coast-hopping, fabulous actress and were I not a happily married, not-nearly-as-fabulous magazine editor...
Yeah, she wouldn't give me the fucking time of day.