As a culture we have decided that certain words are more powerful than others, and in some instances we've taken it even further and decided that some words are downright bad. How can a word itself be bad?
As Jason Bateman's new film, The Family Fang, shows, Bateman is a filmmaker with an edge and a vision. It was one of the better films I saw during a four-movie day Tuesday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Words hold great power. They are the symbols of life, of language, of all that we know and feel. They give expression to our lives, our souls, our deepest longings and strongest emotions. The skill of using the right words is a potent force.
If I were going to make a 10-best list, it would probably include films like Boyhood, The Imitation Game and Selma, among others that will be on everyone's list. But, as good as those films are, none of them are on my list of favorites.
Maybe it's because the studio movies at this time of year are so universally dreadful, but I find myself drawn to the smaller films that bite and snarl and generally have bad manners: Bad Words, The Raid 2 and, this week, Dom Hemingway.
To me, the vulgarity in the novel was not its language. What truly makes me cringe -- the most vulgar and obscene things in life -- are humanity's ubiquitous displays of unrelenting greed, hatred, intolerance, and the unquenchable need of people to make war.
We all have our list of those words. Not the banned-by-the-FCC ones -- I figure all parents agree that those should probably not be part of a 3-year-old's vocabulary. But words that are loaded, words that are hurtful, words that feel personal.
Recently I conducted a perfectly random, unscientific survey among writers and readers to make a list of words-we-are-way-too-weary-of. Now, as someone who loves words and whose very survival depends on them, I hardly mean to condemn any particular word to the firing squad.