Great topic, Laura. And actually, one of concern to me recently. I also agree w/Sarah on the fact that swearing should be character/situation appropriate — not just for the sake of “shock value” or trying to appeal to teen readers who only want to read/listen to/watch things that will make their parents have a heart attack.
But I sure do with there was some sort of warning label for books. The Magicians (Grossman) was recommended to me as a YA novel. What? There’s more cursing and sex in that thing than most adult novels I’ve read in the last few years. But I do think it’s a good example of where cursing is done appropriately. It fit the character/tone of the book.
Now, here’s something I don’t get (and feel free to beat me like the whomping willow if you disagree): Mrs. Weasly’s infamous b***h moment in the last Harry Potter book. It felt completely awkward IMHO. The whole series has been devoid of even the most meager swear words.. damn, shite, etc. Then this pops up out of nowhere. Huh? Call me mad.
But, overall I’m not real big on the swearing. I’ve been reading so much of it lately, seeing it at the movies (wouldn’t Bridesmaids have been just as funny without all the cursing??), and I certainly don’t think encouraging it is the best idea. Saying s**t when you stub your toe is one thing, but if all teenagers have to read/watch are characters that drop the f-bomb every other word because they can’t come up with a better descriptor… well, you can only be saturated with so much culture before you start to meld with it. At least somewhat. Just human nature. And just my two cents.