May 28, 2009


I was a kid, around fifteen years old, when our family went on vacation out west and among the many states we visited I loved the Black Hills of South Dakota the most, in particular, the city of Deadwood. We saw the saloon where “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and the cemetery where he’s buried. You could almost feel the ghosts of Calamity Jane and Wyatt Earp still wandering the streets.

We recently started watching the HBO series “Deadwood” the last few evenings. I love period pieces and this series, which ran three seasons from ’04 to ’06, is authentic in every way. It is a story of a new civilization coming together after gold was discovered there. You feel as if there was a film camera there in 1876 filming the action.

From its debut Deadwood was controversial for its use of extreme, modern profanity, especially from the more coarse characters. It was a deliberate anachronism on the part of the producer, David Milch. He had explained, originally the characters were to use period slang and swear words. Such words, however, were based heavily on the era's deep religious roots and tended to be more blasphemous than scatological. Instead of being shockingly crude (in keeping with the tone of a frontier mining camp), the results sounded comical. As one commentator puts it "… if you put words like "goldarn" into the mouths of the characters on "Deadwood," they'd all wind up sounding like Yosemite Sam. It was decided the show would use current profanity in order for the words to have the same impact on modern audiences as the blasphemous ones did back in the 1870s.

After watching so many episodes, you become somewhat desensitized to the cursing. While having dinner just the other night, I asked wife if she could “pass the fucking green beans please.”

1 comment:

  1. I find it almost boring - the same feeling when a poor joke is repeatedly retold - how the word "fuck" has become so popular in the blogsphere ... as well as how standup comics use it ad nauseam.

    I'm not prudish but I do recall what my 5th grade teacher once said: It's too easy to use common vulgar words. And it takes some effort to say the same thing only using creative language in place of the cuss words.