Research shows that people are less and less bothered by swearwords—instead, it's slurs that are most likely to cause offence. Is it time us Brits (and the Americans watching our TV shows) got over our problem with swearing?by Grace Holliday / August 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
Stormzy, the 26-year-old, multiple-award-winning Grime artist and rapper, is officially a purveyor of a luxurious skincare routine. Or at least, that’s the fun fact I think he’s sharing in his latest No1 single ‘Vossi Bop.’ After a busy day taking another man’s girlfriend to a coffee shop, and something to do with his bedsheets (scrapping with a slightly-too-small bottom sheet, I bet), he likes to ‘”finish with a facial.”
I learnt this tidbit of celebrity knowledge on the family-friendly BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast show, along with the ineffable Gregg James and his legions of young fans. But it got me to wondering. How many spritely seven-year-olds have sung along in the backseat of their parent’s Honda that they too love to finish—what? Scouts?—with a facial?
From one illustrious British institution to another: Salford City Council. On Wednesday, in a turn of events straight from the pages of a Thick Of It remake, they decided to scrap the swearing ban that has amused residents and visitors of Salford Quays, in Manchester, since 2016.
Funnily enough, Salford Quay is home to the offices of BBC North. In other words, up until last week, if you stubbed your toe in their reception, barking “fuck” could have theoretically landed you a £1,000 on-the-spot fine. Declaring your love for an invasive sexual act frequently advertised by the predominantly misogynistic porn industry, however? Knock yourself out.
Last year, researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) found that nearly a third of Americans found “British profanities” as so offensive that they’d rather them bleeped out of their movie, TV and music diet. 60 per cent rejected “fuck,” while nearly 50 per cent rejected “damn” and 30 per cent said ”oh goodness gracious me no!” (or whatever the American equivalent is) to the word “dick.”
We’ve found ourselves at a place where the utterance of some four-letter words is regarded as unconscionable, yet blatant reference to graphic sexual acts and deeds are suitable listening material on morning side. It’s not just Stormzy that producers are failing to bleep out. Ariana ‘Grande’s “Side to Side” has been played regularly, and includes the lyrics “I’ve been here all night, ‘I’ve been here all day, and boy ‘you’ve got me walking side to side.”