“Who never fuck up hands in the air…” ― Black Sherif
When I heard Black Sherif’s Kwaku The Traveller the first time, I asked my wife, “What would it have cost this young artiste to replace fuck with a friendlier word?” I was concerned about the effect on his young fans so I wondered, “No one on his management team could advise him to use a more decent language in the song?”
A beautiful song regardless, I cringe anytime the swear word has to be sung. It almost mars the flow of the song. I wonder what may be running through the minds of teenagers who joyously sing such. For parents who play such in their cars, I can only imagine the look on their faces when their toddlers innocently rattle this part of the song.
Today, this song is a global hit. Travelling across the oceans to places no one imagined it could ― courtesy social media ― one can only wonder how well the word ‘fuck’ has also travelled. Many social media users have sung it effortlessly, caring nothing about how vulgar it is as a word to be used in public.
Defining ‘fuck’ within the context of the above song, Encarta Dictionary states, “a highly offensive term meaning to ruin, botch or destroy something.” If there are other synonyms of the word to convey the same message, why intentionally resort to a ‘highly offensive’ option? For clout chasing? To please a society that is gradually glossing over foul language?
Well, Black Sherif’s song is just one of the many Ghanaian songs where expletives like ‘fuck’ are littered therein. It has always been my concern as to the process of censorship some of these songs go through before being consumed by people like us.
Consumers deserve the best. Creatives must bear in mind that their content is consumed by people of varying ages, hence, must be thoughtful about the kind of language used in creating such content.
Lately, it has become almost suicidal to watch any content with your children. There is little censorship of the content we consume. We don’t know when next an expletive will be hurled at us like an explosive.
The moral standards of the world we live in have sunk so low that it has almost become wrong to advocate for the right thing to be done. Swear words, profanity and their likes are gradually seeping through our media. It has become impossible to tell right from wrong because our mentors and gate keepers so-called are falling for the trends. We prefer to give attention to what is trending and not what is morally right.
Are expletives becoming the order of the day? Unfortunately, they are and we are all watching on. Today, we are awarding artistes for the same swear words they would have been banned some years ago for. Some of these vulgar words that used to be said with caution are now a norm in our favorite songs, movies and even conversations on the media. What changed? Time?
Time must not change wrong into right. Modernity doesn’t take away vulgarity. Just because technology is aiding us to make life better today doesn’t mean the standards we kept in the Stone Age are now obsolete. We can still be creative without being vulgar. We can still communicate our emotions without foul language. We can still entertain without profanity!
The advent of social media has made it difficult for many to draw a clear line between morality and trends. Our celebrities carelessly throw these vulgar words around and their followers jump on them with little or no understanding. Just because something is trending doesn’t make it right.
As a society, it is sad we are gradually admitting these swear words into our circles. We go mute when they hit us. We nod when they are hurled at us as though they are not vulgar anymore. They have become a catch phrase in our entertainment space. We hear them over and over again in our songs and dance to them. We are not spared in our movies as well.
‘Fuck’ is quite becoming an admiringly acceptable language in our entertainment space and it is getting sickening by the day. Have we copied our colonial masters so much that we give no hoot about our culture of morality anymore? Even on the stage of the 23rd edition of Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) some weeks ago, Wendy Shay repeatedly blurted out ‘fuck’ in her new anti-domestic violence song in the sight of the whole world. The irony!
Guess what. This was a live event with viewers across the world with varying ages. Apparently, there had been rehearsals before the event. Could no one draw her attention to the violence meted out to her audience in the name of fighting violence?
As a creative myself, I always insist that the process of creativity should be able to impart on this generation and posterity. The ultimate goal should be to leave a mark and not to just create content.
Decency matters in entertainment. We can always communicate the right way. Wrong soon becomes a norm if not corrected. Our children will soon slap us with expletives like ‘fuck’ if we don’t nip this foreign culture in the bud. We must not be comfortable with swear words!
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (www.scribecommltd.com).