The Imaginary Heroine

searching for the plot

Pissing Contest April 5, 2010

Filed under: Books,Rants — imaginaryheroine @ 10:22 am
Tags: , , ,

Sorry for the radio silence lately. The confluence of Passover and a crazy time at work has prevented me from putting together any worthwhile posts. However, I’ve been reading up a storm and hope to be back to discuss the bodies of action heroines, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, How to Train Your Dragon, and other good stuff fairly soon.

I finished The Magicians yesterday. Let me just say: Wow. There’s so much going on here. Grossman has skillfully woven together elements of both high fantasy and modern psychological drama to create something exciting. However…

I have one tiny rant that I must get off my chest before I can deal with all that.

First, I have to tell you about the pack of pre-teen boys who play outside my apartment building every day.

They have recently discovered swearing. This means that they swear at anything and everything and usually do so ineptly. Sometimes it’s funny. My favorite so far has been one boy saying “What is the fuck?” Mostly it’s just tedious. The words have ceased being emphatic or expressive and have all the zing of “um,” “like,” and “y’know.”

Which brings me to “piss,” which I ran across a few times in The Magicians. Each time I sighed gustily and rolled my eyes.

What is with youngish male authors and the word “piss”?

Are they three or something? I swear they’re obsessed with “piss” and “pissing.”

As words go, “piss” is a pretty evocative one. It’s emphatic, quasi-lewd, and has a nice hint of onomatopoeia.

But the amount of pissing going on has gotten seriously out of hand. I feel like I can’t crack a book without SOMEONE pissing.

Even more irritating, it usually does nothing to advance the plot or characterization in the novel. It’s not like the lawyer in Jurassic park, who gets eaten by a T-rex right off the toilet seat. Usually a pissing scene is an aside. It’s something that breaks up dialogue or action. It’s superfluous filler and I can only guess that it’s meant to inspire tag lines like “gritty” and “serious” in reviews.

I’m not saying urination and/or defecation should be entirely absent from media. As the children’s book says, Everyone Poops.

It’s just that all the pissing is getting annoying. Why doesn’t the author just put in a footnote saying “I’m serious and gritty! See! Piss!”

The ubiquitous pissing scene has started to sound slip-shod and inarticulate, like a nine-year old saying “what is the fuck?” over and over until it slips from funny to tedious.

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One Response to “Pissing Contest”

  1. Megan Says:

    This post made me laugh out loud! “What is the fuck?” is priceless. Also, I have definitely noticed the male author fascination with “piss.” ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ comes to mind, although the word may not even be in there … that’s just the standard male author cussing book. But yes, I always cringe when I read that word and take it as the author trying to convey some sort of emphasis he doesn’t feel he can pull of any other way. Get with it, boys.


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