Monday, September 28, 2009

Jenny Slate's Unscripted "F Bomb" Didn't Bother Me Nearly As Much...

as what she said next, while following the script: "I swear to God."

The Saturday Night Live skit in which Slate accidentally used the four-letter F-word involved two "biker chicks" who repeatedly use the word, "frickin'." Slate slips and, when she does, you can see the chagrin and concern on her face as she puffs her cheeks, as if to say, "I can't believe I just said that."

But then she goes on to her next line, apparently hitting it perfectly. To me, it's even more offensive. God's name gets thrown around a lot in movies, TV, and everyday life. And not just to swear. It's a conversation filler, thrown in when people can't think of anything else to say. Or, when they want to sound cool or emphatic.

Yeah, I know, Slate was only playing a character. But it bugs me. In his Small Catechism explanation of the Second Commandment (some count it as the Third), "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain," Martin Luther writes:
We are to fear and love God so that we do not use his name superstitiously, or use it to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, but call on him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
I live in a neighborhood with lots of noisy people who yell at each other a lot. But the F-Bomb I hear them constantly drop isn't nearly as jarring as the G-Bomb. That's the sound of God's name being used for anything other than "prayer, praise, and thanksgiving."

So, when Jenny Slate's SNL debut appearance is re-run, I'd love it if the NBC people, after bleeping out the F-word would follow up by bleeping out the G-word. I know...not gonna happen.

[UPDATE: An interesting discussion of this post is happening over on The Moderate Voice, where I cross-posted it.]

1 comment:

Jared Littleton said...


I think we misread the intention of the second commandment when we worry about people saying "I swear to God." Yes, this is a technical violation of the commandment, but I think a better reading is that scripture is condemning those who claim God's authority when making pronouncements. This type of using God's name in vain happens all the time, be it by the Jerry Falwells of the world claiming God sends hurricanes to punish New Orleans, or politicians who claim that God would not support this or that position. This is a far more damaging use of God's name then an actor using a phrase.