Embracing the Awesome Redux & The Misleading Beauty of Bad Words

In this post I talked about breaking free of my Lit Bitch bonds and how I’ve rollicked about in my liberation ever since.  I originally meant to move that conversation into the television medium, but the post got a bit longish and I wondered if you guys really wanted to listen to me talk quite that much.  So I continue here.

Another of my odd personal characteristics that goes hand in hand with Former Lit Bitchiness is my complete Inability to Accept Compliments & Recommendations.  I don’t know where this came from other than a perverse mix of humility (I have a gag reflex when being complimented) and pride (if I want to read / watch something, I’ll find it on my own, thank you very much).  Kind of an odd quirk for someone who spends 40 a week giving recommendations, aye?

But, it is what it is, and yes, if you think I should read / watch something your best bet to get me to do it is to never, ever mention it’s existence to me.

With that in mind, I’ll recount a conversation between myself and my mother:

Mother: I’ve got two seasons of Castle on DVD.  You’d love it.

Mindy: *glances over at stack of books waiting to be read* I don’t have time.

Mother: But it’s about a writer, and there’s all these great pop culture references, and there’s this female cop, and he decides to shadow her for research-

Mindy: Yeah mom, I picked up on the cutesy plot from the ads.

Mother: But I think you’d really like it, they’ve got this great relationship – it reminds me a lot of Mulder and Scully.

Mindy: Dammit Mother, did you have to play the X Files card?

Well, once the X Files card has been played, it can’t go back.  So, BBC settled in one night (when she should have been writing, ahem) and watched oooohhhh….. well I won’t tell you how many episodes I watched on that first night.  But I will say that I was sold the second Nathon Fillion stripped off his sock and used the barefoot toe clutch move to pick up a handcuff key, cause that’s exactly how I retrieve dropped laundry when my arms are full with the basket.

And no – I’m not writing this post just to talk about the awesomeness of Castle. (and NOBODY better breathe a word to me about season three!!  I know there was a cliffhanger from my Twitter feed and I’m not even through season two yet – mum’s the word!)   Besides being appropriately humbled for rejecting the plot as “cutesy,” I’m learning a lot as a writer from watching the show.

And one of those things is how to use strong language without using bad words.

I like gritty shows, and I mean gritty like Brotherhood, Deadwood, Dexter and Game of Thrones.  It’s another reason why I laid off network television post-LOST.  I didn’t feel like anything had enough weight and grit for me after gorging myself on the brutality (both visual and audial) of pay TV.  But in watching Castle, I’ve noticed something  - they’ve got Irish thugs and scarred serial killers delivering lines of dialogue that make your fight or flight kick in… but I haven’t heard any swearing yet.  Beckett delivers threats without invoking any four-letter words, but her eyebrows convey them.

Yes, a large part of that is due to the acting quality.  Absolutely.  But the dialogue is clean, yet chilling.  I think it’s a good lesson (especially for YA writers) that we can write a bad guy, or a tough girl without making trash flow out of their mouths.  I don’t have a problem with swearing – at all.  BBC’sMother has already filed her complaint about my use of language in print.  After watching a season and a half of Castle, I question using those words though.  Is it a crutch?  Am I unable to convey the feelings without going for the shock value of the f-bomb?

Hmmmm…. Chew on it.

Oh, and yeah, I know that because I referenced Castle and X Files in the same post you all are going to bombard me with comments and emails saying I need to watch Firefly

And guess what?  If you do that, chances are – I won’t.