Though, as I've said recently, I don't make a habit of using profanity, I am strongly in favor of airing the "raw." Meanwhile I have just a few questions.
Have the people who object to the obscenities never seen any of the HBO miniseries, such as "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Deadwood," or Carnivale?" These stories, which go on for weeks and are repeated through the years, are laced with profanities of every kind. But they prevail and they endure because they have such strong and interesting story lines -- and because of recognition that that's just the way so many people talk, in and out of the military.
In its defence of the "raw" version, Frontline says they "decided to leave in the coarse language because it presented a true picture of how these men and women react to the fear and stress of war."
That's being slightly over-accommodating. "Fear and stress of war" is not strictly necessary.
Have they, along with those who demand laundered language, never been in the military? This could be a reflection of how removed many people are from military life, now that it is an activity confined to a relatively few volunteers, compared to the hordes who served in the draft days of WW2 and Korea. I would say that "raw" is how military people of all nations talk much of the time, freed at last from the strictures of home, whether they are in Iraq or lounging on the beach of some tropical Pacific outpost. But I guess some people carry in their heads an idealized picture of our pure-as-the-driven-snow girls and boys in uniform. Can it really be a big surprise that being in the military is for many, like the college experience, a descent into grungedom?
But shooting helps.
Of the many fine drawings produced by Bill Mauldin, the late, great cartoonist/chronicler of the GI's in WW2, one especially stuck in my mind. (Forgive me if I'm not recalling it with the greatest precision, but I believe I have the concept correct.) It showed his two main characters, Joe and Willie, standing in the wreckage and the misery of a battlefield, with cigarettes dangling from their lips, their helmets askew, their eyes blurry, their bodies limp with fatigue, their uniforms filthy, and they may even be holding bottles of liberated spirits of some kind. They look so haggard that they can hardly stand and are managing to do so only by having arms draped over each other's shoulders, while they drawl, "We're just two clean-cut American boys."