Faux-fanity: Ranking Science Fiction Swearing From Shuck To Shazbot
Set three-million years in the future, at the furthest reaches of deep space, BBC’s long running sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf is equal parts ridiculous and inventive, and this is reflected in the swear words and insults they use to work around the censors. The show follows the adventures of a wayward mining ship crewed by Dave Lister (Craig Charles), the last living human; Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), the holographic representation of Lister’s dead, uptight bunkmate; Cat (Danny John-Jules), a humanoid creature that evolved from a domestic house cat; and Kryten (Robert Llewllyn), a fussy maintenance droid.
- Smeg/Smeg Head: The most prominent faux-curse is “smeg,” which is another way to say “shit,” and, as you can imagine, has a similarly wide array of uses and applications. “Smeg head” is a favorite, especially as Rimmer is a complete and total shit head, a cowardly weasel of a man. But you can also be in deep smeg, a world of smeg, and sometimes, when you come across a rogue simulant who wants to rip off your head and spit down your neck, you just need to shake your head and utter a low, slow “smeg.”
- Twonk: Another insult the show is fond of using is “twonk,” a version of git, gimp, goit, ponce, and similar terms, all of which the Dwarf crew use with great frequency. In fact, much of the show is spent coming up with new and unique ways to insult Rimmer.
Profanity Effectiveness Rating: As with shit, smeg and smeg head have a wide range of potential uses, making them a nice addition to any bank of curse words, if for nothing else than for some much-needed variety. After all, it’s nice to mix things up. The standards, while classics, can get stale of that’s all you use. Red Dwarf‘s swears have a unique edge to them, and though you might not know precisely what they mean the first time you hear them, there’s something intrinsically derogatory about them. (And I’ve actually used smog head in certain situations with great effect). 8 out of 10.