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‘It’ pays off to have kids cuss

Published:Thursday | September 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Stephen King
The diabolical clown in Stephen King's 'It'

As I sat in the auditorium at the Carib 5, Cross Roads, St Andrew, earlier this week and watched, It, I was repeatedly struck by the incongruity of children cursing 'F's and derivatives thereof during the outstanding film. Think about it; the movie was rated for viewers 18 years old and up (in the US, it is 16 years old and over), yet some characters way under the sweet 16 bar, were letting foul language rip as they tackled a diabolical clown.

It, gets even more interesting when we consider that in Jamaica, the Town and Communities Act outlaws calumnious language and obscene drawings in public spaces, among other things. While we will not go into the well-worn territory of the law (though sporadically applied) leaning heavily on Jamaican popular music performers, I have to note that it is the Jamaican curse words which the law seems to find particularly offensives.

So it is the family of Jamaican fabric, ripped by dancehall entertainers, which the law has come down on at points with its very low fines - in the middle of last decade a couple of our more prominent deejay practitioners found themselves before the court for the tap on the wrist.

With its easily restricted entrances/exits and being an enclosed space, the matter of being 'public' or not may arise. Still, I do wonder about what we accept on the big screen, yet from the mouths of our own babes and sucklings. For if a child performer in theatre or music was to curse like some of those youngsters in, It, then there would be hell to pay.

I did not see any shocked or disapproving reactions from the persons I briefly observed at the movie. There was actually a burst of cheers during the final confrontation between the group of children and the clown, when one cussed that now he had to kill the 'm.....f....r'. I did wonder if I was the only person thinking about the age of the character who said it.

Having read the Stephen King book over two decades ago, I also wonder how many people who watch the runaway hit film, will be moved to actually go through the book. As far as paperbacks go, I remember it as a formidable tome, weighty to the hand, but such a riveting read.

The argument about which is better, a book or a movie based on that book, will always rage. A film about, It, could never fully capture the thoughts of the main characters and the intricacies of the plot, but the viewership of, It, is testament to the strength of the effort which has been made by director Andres Muschietti and we can only wait to see what happens 27 years from now - those of us the clown doesn't get, that is.

By then, the cussing that the bunch of misfit friends who take on the killer clown will seem less incongruous to people like me. That is if they have movie age restrictions then, the way things are going with the blurring of lines between adults and children and how technology is making audiovisual content available at the snap - not even a tap - of a finger.