In the same week that Steve Williams, former caddy of Tiger Woods, has been in trouble for saying, at a public event, that he celebrated a win by his new employer because he “wanted to shove it up that black arsehole” Oscars producer Brett Ratner has had to resign his prestigious job because he said, at a public Q&A, “rehearsing is for fags”.
Obviously both remarks could be construed as offensive, though since some papers are deleting the noun in Williams’ outburst while others have struck out the adjective it seems safe to say that people aren’t entirely sure how. Since we weren’t there at either occasion we are free to believe that both remarks were said with some bitterness, which they probably weren’t.
I think it’s more likely that both were said with a smile on the speakers face in the hopeful expectation that they would be justified by laughter from the audience. That’s not because people agree with either of the sentiments of the sentences but because audiences have become pre-programmed to laugh at the end of any sentence which finishes with a profanity. It’s how 50% of comedy works.
I’ve always taken the view that you shouldn’t use language in a public gathering that you wouldn’t use at a school speech day. Not only does it run the risk of going wrong, as it has done in these cases, but it’s terribly needy. Just how desperate are you to get a laugh?