I mentioned in my recent essay on comedy that many authors resort to vulgarity in order to get a laugh. They do this because it is a tried and true method–exploit that which is taboo. It takes little skill and creativity to resort to swearing, graphic sexual humor and toilet humor, which is why it happens so often. Just like with all jobs, it is often tempting to take the easy way as opposed to doing it right the first time.
I think resorting to vulgarity is bad for art as a whole because it cheapens comedy. It turns comedy, itself, into vulgarity, which it doesn’t need to be. It cheapens our language by offering only a handful of adjectives which are constantly repeated over and over again, instead of finding new ways to craft a sentence.
One of the reasons I started making my Inventing Swear Words series is because I was so tired of talking with people whose vocabulary included only the words f*** and sh***, repeated over and over again and tagged with -ing, -ed, -er, -head and -tard. Have you seen Webster’s Dictionary recently? The thing is huge! There are far more words out there besides sh** and f***, and I think we should use them more often.
An audience wants to be entertained by something witty. Sure, swearing and sex-jokes will make them laugh, but they can get that any time they want by heading down to the local bar or going off with friends. It takes a talented fellow to make someone laugh without resorting to vulgarity, and I think that audiences really like this type of witty, contextual humor better than fart jokes. I therefore put this challenge out to all my machinimator peers–try making a funny comedy without resorting to vulgarity. The audience will respect you more and, I believe, enjoy your movie more.