Mike Morgan (dagoonite) wrote,
Mike Morgan

Vulgarity Dept.

I play a character who is, most simply put, vulgar as all hell.  He is abrasive, loud, crass, crude, never has a nice thing to say about anybody or anything...  and apparently funny as all get out.

Now I've been known to drop the occasional F-bomb in my day, but usually not to the point where my eyes begin to hurt, so this takes a little bit of effort on my part.  I'd like to discuss the intricacies of what goes into this with all of you, if you'd be willing to be so kind.  Perhaps the easiest way to explain is with some examples.  We like examples, right?


1) "What the shit does that have to do with fuck?!" - Why is this funny?  Why choose this particular arrangement of words?  It actually has more thought put into it than one might think.  Please, follow my logic.  The original line was going to be "What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"  However, I decided that it wasn't vulgar enough.  Stepping it up, the line changed to "What the fuck does that have to do with shit?"  A scatological reference attached at the end of a fornication reference.  For most people, this would be suitably vulgar.  However, this character goes on many long-winded rants, some of which will be highlighted later.  As such, this was lacking something.  Not wishing to add on another paragraph of words, I have to find something that would make up for it.  Switching the words "shit" and "fuck" disrupts the traditional flow of words, in essence, jarring your expectations of sentence flow to the point where the vulgarity stands out that much more.

A lot of thought for a simple ten word question, no?

2) "You make me want to scream so loud that blood shoots out my eyes, Nuns in alternate planes of existence think I'm the mother fucking Lord announcing His second self-damned coming, parents spontaneously go back in time to get married so that their children aren't bastards, and ivory poaches in Africa start trying to put tusks back in the mouths of elephants! You're such a brain-damaged little shitcunt that kids with special needs take pity on you! I've come to the conclusion that your skull is made of the stuff of neutron stars, so I have to yell to make sure the words get through! You drive me so fucking up the wall that I wish I had no mouth so I could make a shitty Harlan Ellison reference!"

A little more complex, but no less thoughtful.  First, the blood shooting out the eyes is a common theme for me to represent my own rage, frustration, and general ease of getting headaches.  The second bit about the nuns took a bit more work.  The first draft was nothing more than "nuns in alternate dimensions think I'm fucking God announcing his second coming."  After noticing the first issue, I changed the line to Lord, which brought about the "self-damned" part.  It seemed to fit a little bit better.  And while alternate dimensions worked well, "alternate planes of existence" offered more possibilities; they could be in other dimensions, or they could even be in heaven.  The exact interpretation was up to the reader.  The extra vulgarity was an afterthought.

The character was around in a different era, where the term "bastard" actually had connotations heavily associated with it.  It's for this reason why I love playing with the word and highlighting his views of it in a vaguely subtle way.  It's, in essence, his mindset.  The ivory poachers bit was more difficult.  I originally wanted to have him mention that thieves would return stolen property, but this could be done out of simple guilt.  I tried ramping it up with murderers performing CPR, but that still didn't work right.  Why I thought of the mental image of somebody trying to put a tusk back into an elephant's corpse is beyond me, but it was suitably outlandish and thoroughly impossible.  Plus, somehow people who do that sort of thing strike me as strangely heartless.  But I'm odd.

The next sentence deserves special mention.  I first came across the term "shitcunts" on 4chan, on (I'm guessing) fansubbed anime still of a girl angrily staring at her cell phone and yelling "Goddamn shitcunts!"  Though I'm not the kind of person to normally EVER use the term "cunt" willingly, characters are another story.  In fact, it's 4chan's unique vulgarity that helped inspire the character, so I try and use the term whenever possible.  It helps keep things in focus.  The rest of the sentence was me trying as hard as I could to find something horribly offensive while still maintaining a level of political correctness.  His use of the term "special needs" over the more vulgar "retards" struck me as sort of ironic; he's willing to use them as a method of insult, but still calls them a polite name.  I also felt secure that with the rest of the barrage, it would go unnoticed.

I originally wrote "You're so dense" and got stuck there.  It happens.  A secondary insult to his target's intelligence was appropriate to me, so I decided to continue to the next line and come back to it.  The next line had to wrap everything up and bring everything back to my character.  I wanted to highlight his intelligence; with such baseless vulgarity being spun around, I had to include something to remind folks that he wasn't a stupid man. Harlan Ellison's <i>I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" has always been a haunting story to me, with the video game kind of surreal.  (Doubly so with the knowledge that Ellison refused to use a computer while making the script for the game.  The entire thing was written on typewriter, as the man hated computers.)  The computer itself, with its unending hate for the human race and its overstatement of its hate, was help in creating the character to begin with.  Making a reference to the story without gauging ones audience's familiarity is something that an intelligent (or psudeo-intelligent) person with no regard to their audience might do, and combined with my own love for it, I had to include it.  Still in intelligent mode, I went back and added the neutron star bit.  In retrospect, I regret it as it pushed the intelligence too hard, but it's too late for that.

3) "Jesus fucking Christ on a goddamn crutch, I think you just made me have an aneurysm. Right now, thanks to you, my own goddamned brain cells are spontaneously committing suicide just to try and lower myself to the point where you actually, if you get really fucking drunk and so fucking high that manjuice stains on your underwear look like the Sistine fucking chapel and grass growing sounds like Frank Sanatra and maybe, just maybe huff enough paint that New York actually sounds like a good place to live if you don't believe in locking your doors, you actually make sense. Oh God, please take me now I no longer wish to live!"

Okay, for this one I'm only going to touch on a couple of things.  First off, the implication that it was physically revolting to speak with the girl in question was too priceless to pass up.  Secondly, I had to find something that illustrated just how wasted a person must be.  I figured he was a fan of Frankie, so that was easy.  Universal beauty in art, however, was harder.  I'm still not satisfied with my choice, but still.  "Manjuice" was not the world that I was originally going to use, but I'm uncomfortable saying it even here in an analytical discussion, and I don't want to put my name on anything I'd be uncomfortable with.  So, manjuice it became.

The New York reference was hard.  I wanted to reference a US city with both an unsavory reputation and that he would find an unacceptable place to live.  New York has a strange urban beauty to it, but I didn't see much in the way of "traditional" beauty in my time there.  (Which was, admittedly, short.)  As well, I had just read something about issues with police there.  That reminded me of the checkered reputation that New York has.  Hence, the choice.  Sadly, I rather liked New York myself.  Lastly, the wish for spontaneous death rather than deal with the person was wonderful.  I had to use it.

This was a shorter explanation, but I'm running out of steam.

In closing, I asked a friend if he was surprised that I played this character.  His reply was surprising.  "Yes and no.  I can't really imagine you being so vulgar, but on the other hand I can't think of many people here with the creativity to play a character like this."  Needless to say, this warmed my heart.  Even if I'm not comfortable with the character and some of his comments, it's nice to know that it says that I'm creative.


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