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THE MANNERIST

A Bleeping Part Of The Job

December 16, 2007

Q: I'm not a total prude or anything, but I work at a movie studio next to an assistant who curses nonstop. He throws the F-word left and right under his breath and then says,"Sorry, guys!" My boss thinks it's funny, but he doesn't have to listen to it all day. One day I asked him to say "fudge" instead, and he laughed and told me to "Fudge off!" I don't want to go to human resources because everyone will know it was me who complained. How can I get him to clean up his act?

-- A.M., Culver City

Dear A.M.,

Fiddlesticks, baby. You're climbing the wrong darn ladder. Hollywood loves profanity, especially the F-word. Like many of this town's most powerful men, it's short and decisive. Even the more towering of titans cuss like convicts. Producer Scott Rudin has been known to string more than a dozen variations on the F-bomb into one insult. Harvey Weinstein prefers to use it conversationally, even cordially -- as in, "How the F was your honeymoon?" And always one for compromise, Lynda Obst reportedly cultivated a reputation for ending creative tussles with, "We'll do it my F-ing way."

If that's not disappointing enough, there's more incentive for your colleague to bleep. A recent study conducted at University of East Anglia in England found that profanity in the office promotes solidarity. The researchers explained that swearing can be a "relief mechanism" and prevent "primitive physical aggression." Meaning, your colleague could be hog-tying you with his headset if it weren't for all that cathartic cursing. They also discovered that women use expletives in the workplace nearly as much as men.

As for approaching HR, I wouldn't advise it unless your co-worker is harassing you personally. "Fudge off" doesn't really cut it either. Your best bet is to see if there is any way for you to switch to a cube that is farther away from Mr. Foul Mouth, or ask your direct boss if he can ask the guy to curb his tongue. Tell him that those random expletives interfere with your calls to important people (producers, screenwriters, or directors), who might mistakenly assume that they're being called %$#@s and *&^%s. Your boss won't find that funny at all.

Lastly, you might think about a career shift to a more wholesome field, like hip-hop. Both rappers Chamillionaire and Master P are now making profanity-free music. Dang!

--

Do you have a social woe or an etiquette issue? Send question to the Mannerist at monica.corcoran@latimes.com

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