Chris Hicks: Foul language is just lazy screenwriting, in movies and TV/streaming shows

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  • Craig Bosley Island Park, ID
    May 20, 2017 8:56 p.m.

    The same with comedy. We loved Red Skelton. Today's comedians use vulgarity because they lack talent and skill.

    May 17, 2017 8:04 p.m.

    My father with his 4th grade education, who became a lumberjack as a teen (CCC's) and served in WWII didn't swear. He told me swearing was the last resort of a weak mind.

    Personally I think swearing only has a place if there is a need for shock and awe. That only works if it is very seldom used. What swearing often does is tell everyone in hearing range your education, cultural and moral level. After three decades of managing people I still haven't found a reason to swear, although I did raise my voice towards one employee, once. I also haven't worked at a company where it is tolerated, although I know some companies still allow it.

  • phillipehardy Georgetown, TX
    May 17, 2017 11:46 a.m.


    Having written more than twenty screenplays, winning and placing at more than fifty film festivals and contests, including a few Christian film festivals, I have mixed feelings about this topic. I think the use of profanity is entirely contingent on the subject matter. Though I will agree, unimaginative scriptwriters rely too heavily of gratuitous profanity. And, you're correct; profanity has been particularly abused by free cable channels like FX. I was a bit shocked, with how cavalier they have become with the F-word. However, in crafting adult material, such as a biopic screenplay I wrote about maverick writer Charles Bukowski, the material sometimes calls for rough language. My advice to other writers is that they strongly consider their audience and judiciously use foul language.

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    May 17, 2017 8:24 a.m.

    Brave Sir Robin: I beg to differ. You have utterly failed to draw any connection between lazy script writing, foul language, and shallow faux 'reality' and real emotions, real people, and social problems reflected in this so-called 'reality' spread across the land in the form of stupid, unfulfilling, self absorbed, self loathing movies! Hollywood entertainment is avoidance of thinking to the max. Many of those attending can't read or write, but they can sure avoid 'life' in all of its forms by attending the 'reality' presented.

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    May 16, 2017 5:58 p.m.

    The U.S. Supreme Court Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons with regards to the Copyright Act, that once you have bought something, you own it, and you can resell it. This means that if you buy a book and your underline passages or tear pages out or black out words you do not like, you can still legally sell it.

    Moreover, in 2005 congress passed the Family Movie Act which specifically protects the choice to filter movies (after Hollywood had sued every filtering company out of business). Now they are trying to do the same thing again. They will lose at the Supreme Court however.

  • Mona Portland, OR
    May 16, 2017 4:38 p.m.

    I agree, it's lazy writing, and it happens in modern books as well as movies. I've read some life-impacting classic books where emotions are strongly conveyed through skillful writing. Book and script-writers now rarely seem to have to skill or imagination to convey emotion except through profanity. What a shame.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    May 16, 2017 4:25 p.m.

    @Light and Liberty

    Everything you said is all well and good, but you've totally gone off subject. The discussion was about whether bad language means the screenwriter is lazy, and you went off about morality, sin, and protecting the children.

    All of those things are great points and a worthy discussion (for a different article), but completely unrelated to the matter at hand.

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    May 16, 2017 2:43 p.m.

    People here are hypocrites when they justify 'foul language" in a movie and talk about how important it is to show 'reality', as if Hollywood shows 'reality'. Does Hollywood ever show the reality of the consequences of having an abortion? violence? An affair? drug use? Illicit sex? Consequences of sin? Hardly, if at all! So, if they all are for showing 'reality', how come they only want certain types of 'reality'? Hollywood is entertainment, pure and simple. If Hollywood can't figure out how to entertain without showing 'reality', what is its use? Oh, I know. Corrupt and desensitize people, kids, etc. from the 'realities' of life. When I go to a movie, I want to be entertained or find some meaning in a movie, not thrown overboard with fruitless, meaningless, ugly, stupid, foolish depictions of stuff that I don't care to hear or know about. You can show all of the above mentioned life issues without offending my spirit. So, until people say 'no' to all the garbage by making better choices (Oh, maybe visiting the widow would work!), then other options are readily and happily available.

  • UtahTroutStalker Draper, UT
    May 16, 2017 1:21 p.m.

    I love all the streaming content. There is so much more variety now.

    Let's face it people from different areas, social circles, sub-cultures, etc.. use language in many different ways. No sense being too prudish about it.

    I can't wait to take my kids to see Guardians of the Galaxy II. We watch a good number a PG-13 movies together, and my kids don't go around swearing. My son did once at school about 4 years ago, we had a good talk, and it never happened again.

    My guess is that my wife and I have more influence over our kids than mass media. Perhaps people should spend more time with their kids and worry less about the art and craft of screenwriting.

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2017 1:11 p.m.

    "They're just words, in the end. You empower them to be what they become."

    I completely agree, which, for the life of me, is why I can't figure out why I don't hear the word "energetic" more often when a character wants to convey a vulgarity. Or "yearling" or "dainty" or "stamp" or "robust" or "tire" or "ambivalent" or....

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 16, 2017 12:38 p.m.

    No. Certainly not always.
    I didn't watch 'Sopranos', for example, for a cleaned up version of the life of people in the mob. They use what we call foul language. A lot of people do.
    They're just words, in the end. You empower them to be what they become.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    May 16, 2017 12:22 p.m.

    "Foul language is just lazy screenwriting."

    Eh, possibly, but not always.

    For example, if I were making a movie about inner city street gangs, would I include foul language? Yes. And if I did, would that be lazy screenwriting? No. Because I'm trying to capture the way inner city gang members actually talk, and that does include bad language.

  • silo Sandy, UT
    May 16, 2017 12:10 p.m.

    @harrison bergeron
    "What makes it worse is that anyone who tries to clean up these movies is sued out of business."

    Not true at all. If you bought the movie and modified it for your own use, the studios wouldn't give you a second glance.

    However, if you modify a movie you didn't create, that you hold no rights to, then you remove the parts you find offensive, then try to profit by reselling that modified movie, the copyright holders will rightfully prevent you from doing so.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    May 16, 2017 12:08 p.m.

    Wasn't funny or clever in Guardians 2

    Just gratuitous grossness​ for no reason.

    Half agree with Chris Hicks-- it IS lazy.

    Also a natural byproduct of the crass gutter minds of some of the writers.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2017 11:37 a.m.

    Ya, swears and nudity are naughty and we lose the special feelings when we hear them and see them

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    May 16, 2017 11:30 a.m.

    What makes it worse is that anyone who tries to clean up these movies is sued out of business.