Prohibiting the use of “bad words” on stage does not diminish the Jamaican Culture

Prohibiting the use of “bad words” on stage does not diminish the Jamaican Culture

Recently the Jamaican dancehall artist & reality show star Spice appealed to Prime Minister Andrew Holness Jamaican to legalize “bad/curse words” as it is holding back our culture. She alluded to the fact that “foreigners” are embracing Jamaican curse words, while the government is cracking down on it. Then added that foreigner are profiting from what is “our own.”

What Spice neglects to realize is that they are drawn to these curse  words because to them it usually sounds funny and at times they associate the words with the “positive” feelings they have towards Jamaica – a country they love. If many of these individuals and foreign governments knew the meaning or origins of these words they would most likely be banned on the international stage as well.

They are called curse words for a reason. They are inappropriate. Think back to when we were in school. If caught using curse words, you were definitely up for suspension or any other disciplinary action for being foul-mouthed. Growing up, curse words couldn’t be used in the presence of adults, especially our parents and grandparents. Why? The answer is simple – it is INAPPROPRIATE and a sign of disrespect. Period!

It is quite a stretch for folks to equate asking people to act decent in the public sphere to censoring culture. American artist, R Kelly got into trouble in Jamaica by simulating sex act on stage. So that is evidence that censorship against lewd conduct is not just limited to the Jamaican artists. Juxtapose the behavior of those same artist on stage versus their desire to have air play. These artists go to lengths to make CLEAN VERSIONS of songs for radio and TV…. why do you think they do that? They themselves know that the explicit lyrics are inappropriate for the listening public that includes impressionable children.

Why does Spice believe that cursing in Jamaican increases your monetary worth as an artist? Sean Paul and Shaggy are two examples of artists with clean songs and lyrics who thrive financially and doing well internationally. Personally speaking, I have authored four books with stories promoting the Jamaican culture and its people and I did not have to write a single character in the stories using explicit language. Patois is so rich that it is easy to be creative without being graphic, raw and crude.

I beg to argue that cleaning up our act on stage – whether it be toning down the explicit content of lewd sex acts, can have a direct impact of cleaning up our culture. It doesn’t diminish it.

Photo source: 123rf

About the author

Joelle "Wendy" Wright

Joelle "Wendy" Cohen Wright is an author of character-driven Jamaican sketch comedy. She developed her love for sketch comedy after enrolling in a speech drama club in a Kingston primary school, where she won countless awards for her theatre performances.

Joelle is fast becoming one of the Caribbean's well-loved comedy writers. With her irrepressible sense of humor and a flair for dramatics, Joelle's writing style has the right comedic timing that is sure to induce laughter through her storytelling abilities in Jamaican patois. Ever the natural comedienne, she adds a fiery jolt of pure comic bliss to her series of characters and hilarious interpretations of Jamaican every day life.

Her first collection of sketches, "A Soh Wi Do It!" was published in 2010 and made rave reviews from readers across the world. The author dedicated the following years to penning the hilarious come backs entitled, "A Soh It Goh!" and "A Soh Dem Gwaan." Joelle holds a post graduate degree from the University of Maryland, University College, MD.