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Monday, August 9, 2010

Should Writing Be Rated PG?

Conversation bubble with curse word symbols

Life is not PG.  But my blog is.

Why not just tell it like it is?  After all, I’m a realist by nature.  I’m a lawyer, remember?  Lawyers are known to be savvy and even a little vulgar – not PG.

I usually write the blog when I’m not wearing my lawyer hat.  But that’s not why it’s rated PG.  Here are the reasons:

Nick reads it.  First and foremost, Nick (my 9-year-old son) reads the blog.  In fact, he’s probably reading this post right now.  What mother wouldn’t want to protect the innocence of her first-born son?  He’s going to get hit with enough of smut out there.  It doesn’t need to be coming from his own mother.  I need to be setting an example.

My mother reads it.  I know, I’m 40 years old, but I still care what my mother thinks.  For those of you who don’t know her, she’s never uttered a swear word in her entire life!  And, no, I’m not lying.  When I (jokingly) told her all the swearing had been edited out of Chasing Superwoman, she looked relieved.  But she also gave me a look that said, “Behave, Susan, you know better than to use those kind of words.”

You read it.  Last by not least, you read the blog.  No, I don’t expect that your life is rated PG.  But I do know that you’re getting hit with enough nasty words on a regular basis.  Sure, sometimes swearing is used to make a point – to provide exclamation points, particularly in the spoken word.  Besides, when we’re intentional and not reactive about communication, we don’t need vulgarity to make a point.

Let’s just put it this way.  I’ve never regretted saying something wholesome.  But I have regretted the times when I’ve opened my mouth without thinking – putting a worldly and even filthy spin on something that should have been PG.  And given that writing is usually more deliberate than the spoken word, I try to temper my impulses and keep it clean.

What do you think?  Do you prefer reading writing that is rated PG, or do writers like myself need a healthy dose of reality?

Maybe it has more to do with the message behind the content.  But I still can do without the smut.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29


Alison said...

I personally like the PG versions. Not that I'm a Pollyanna and need earmuffs to avoid hearing saucy language, but I think the same message can be conveyed with greater success. Plus, ugly words in writing will come back to haunt!!!

Bradley J. Moore said...

Sue - This is an interesting subject for Christian writers. I actually went through a period where I was so tired of the sanitized, over-spiritualized, glossed-over talk of life that Christian writers were using. It didn't match my own experience. I actually wrote a post about it called, "A Tasteful examination of using salty language" but it was more in favor of not censoring language (just for the sake of being real) than anything else.
But you do bring up some good advice - especially the whole public reputation thing. (and my mother reads my blog too! But my teenage kids don't.)

I personally like a good slang word thrown around now and then for good measure. And good taste! Here is my post if you dare.

Erin MacPherson said...

Hi Susan! This is so great. There are so many times that I'm tempted to tow the line and say something worldly and it never pays off. I have to really watch myself at work with that... I write for a secular company so worldliness and filth is almost encouraged. So, I really have to be careful to keep my writing above board.

Susan DiMickele said...

Brad's post is worth reading -- just went there and left a comment.

ananchorage said...

Smut for the sake of smut doesn't impress me. But sometimes in life, it is gritty. I can deal with gritty and sometimes it needs to be described without pretty padding.

I don't find that many bloggers really want dialog. I think there will come a time that a blog can serve that purpose, but it will probably be for a closed group. When they are public, it tends to turn into rants, which drive people off.

Our society in general tends to overlook the titillating factor in things like the media (think viagra ads) but if we don't say that our days are sweetness and light--hmmmm.