September 1, 2005

Traction

How do you feel about the excessive use of expletives in this play? Is this sort of language necessary to convey the message of the play? Or does it distract from your viewing?

ELMORE: Fuckin' I wish. He was sneakin' glue home in his lunchbox. One night his wife wakes up and he's not in bed so she goes into the living room and there's Barney Flintstone all splayed out naked--covered an inch thick and shiny like he'd been lacquered, you know, shellacked, like they do to bar tops so beers will slide easy on 'em... The paramedics had to cut him out of the carpet like he was gingerbread.
MIKEY: [Pause.] This is different.
ELMORE: Don't tell me you've forgot what a stinky fuckin' monkey your ass was until I got you promoted to the ovens.... And I promise you this: anybody who fucks up in front of OSHA tomorrow is gonna get fuckin' killed. I fuckin' promise you that... [Elmore picks up his tire iron and brandishes it.] I'll fuckin' bash his head in right now if I have to. I fuckin'-fuckin' promise you that.
MIKEY: Stop, look, and listen man. That's all I'm sayin'. Stop-- look-- and listen. I will speak no more on this topic. I need not. I shit you not.
ELMORE: [Pause.] What the fuck are you sayin'? I mean watch what the fuck you're sayin'.... Brandon and me were in the Guard together. In the Gulf. Understand? Our cots was end to end, man, in a tiny fuckin' tent in the fuckin' sand. End to end...... Understand? He was my squad leader. He kept my ass and my head in proper alignment. We shook scorpions from our boots together every rise-and-shine!
The language Ramsey chooses to use in this exchange is relevant to the severity and rawness of the subject matter. Elmore talks about the conditions he and Brandon faced in the Gulf War: extreme heat, dryness, sand storms, lethal scorpions, etc. The use of repeated profanity, especially the degree of the words, is paramount to the adverse conditions faced in the Gulf War.

It is also interesting that Elmore compares a glue huff-er to Barney Flintstone, when the character was Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Perhaps, it is more ironic he reverses the first names because the glue abuser is left in a rubble like pile. Elmore even compares his shine to that of bar tops. It seems as though through his speech, Elmore is blue collar, hard working, day laborer type of person. This is reinforced through out the work through his admission, as well as through his speech patterns. He seeks advancement, yet at the same time seems to be stuck in this brutish mentality that prohibits him from progressing beyond the use of the f-word, comparisons to swilling at bars, his violent threats, and the cartoon character mishaps.

Posted by KatieAikins at September 1, 2005 4:16 PM
Comments

I'm a potty mouth myself, so I can relate to the use of expletives; for me, it makes it more real.

Also, like we discussed in class, the lower class workers seem to parallel Jesus' disciples. Dr. Jerz made a good point when he mentioned the used of "bad language" in Jesus' time. I never really thought of the disciples are regular people (they followed and knew Jesus, after all), but those men were of the average, working class, so maybe a word or two slipped out.

So here's a question I ask you or anyone else. Does swearing make a person less or uneducated? If not, do they seem lesser or uneducated?

Posted by: Katie Lambert at September 4, 2005 12:22 PM