The curse of Gordon Ramsay: How he ruined the f-bomb
UPDATE 12.15pm: Gordon Ramsay said this morning his response was “to say silent” - apart from the following series of points: video.
Parliaments are no strangers to the absurd, but for sheer incongruity it’s hard to match a report by the Senate last year on Gordon Ramsay’s swearing.
A submission (pdf here) from the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide states in its introduction:
The revelation that the ‘F word’ was used 80 times in a one hour program raises many questions.
Indeed. You can picture a monsignor penning that line in the dim study of a parish house and muttering: “... So I’m f***ed if I know where to start.”
When I first started watching Ramsay, the language brought a mixture of entertainment and comedy to food programming. You waited for the inevitable explosion. It was as if he was bellowing some magic ingredient into the food. Beef and vegetables with jus - topped with complete bastard.
Ramsay’s mouth has him in the spotlight again, but now it’s more than just expressing his passion for food and or his extreme motivational technique. His attack on Tracy Grimshaw was insulting, tasteless, and unnecessarily personal. When she answered him last night on A Current Affair, at the top of the show, she got personal with him too.
The Senate inquiry was initiated by South Australian Liberal Cory Bernardi after a particular episode of Kitchen Nightmares which would give Platoon a run for its money on the profanity meter.
It looked at broader issues around the effectiveness of broadcasting regulations, but the final report was clear that Gordon Ramsay had prompted it.
This row with Grimshaw will pass. Both of them are big enough to wear it. And they both know it.
The longer-term problem for me with Ramsay, an unquestionably gifted chef and driven man, is what he has done to swearing. It used to be for difference, emphasis, spontaneity, and humour. He has made swearing pedestrian and packaged, like the very pre-prepared sachets and tins in a kitchen that would trigger another trademark Ramsay outburst. The US version of Kitchen Nightmares, in particular, lost its spark.
Maybe I just watched too many episodes of The F Word. But I like my cursing to be special. Swearing should be for the best and worst moments of your day, and your life. Gordon Ramsay has made bad language vanilla.
To be clear: just like, I don’t know, pretty much everyone I’ve ever met, cursing is fine with me. A sprinkling, or more, of expletives can be the perfect way to tell a joke or simply express yourself. But you don’t need to swear to communicate. Barack Obama changed America without once dropping an f-bomb from the stump.
It would be interesting to see a profanity-free Gordon Ramsay TV show. He might need to oversee a team of chefs making only simple things – like, say, toast – but it would be a breath of fresh air. Just like he was when he first arrived on our screens.
What do you think? Should Ramsay keep going as he has been? Or is it time for him to change a few things. Share your (profanity-free, if you can) comments below.
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