Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews. Welcome.

The Authors: Larry DiTillio & Bob Forward

Work in Question: Beast Wars: Transformers

The Profanity: “Slag”

This piece of faux-profanity is interesting, being both very much faux-profanity and very much a real slur—at least if you live in the United Kingdom. But we’re going to skip out on British slut-shaming today and, instead, focus on robots in disguise.

“Slag” is a catchall Transformers profanity first appearing in the original series episode, “Return of Optimus Prime, Part 2,” but later, its use was expanded extensively within the Transformers: Beast Wars sub-franchise, in particular the Beast Wars: Transformers animated series. (Funny enough, I put this together well before the title of the upcoming Transformer film series, Rise of the Beasts, was announced. Kismet, I suppose.)

Now, I realize this is not the only profanity within the Transformers universe, “frag,” “mudflap,” “actuator,” “diode,” and many more machine-specific terms are also used within the franchise and I wouldn’t but surprised if we revisit this universe in the future. That said, “slag” is undoubtedly the most dominant, used by both Maximals and the Predacons throughout the Beast Wars series and spreading broadly in the franchises and sub-franchises that followed. It’s used as an expletive on its own or inserted into phrases such as “what the slag!” “holy slag!” and the ever-popular “I’ll blow your slaggin’ heads off!”

A slaggin’ supercut for your viewing pleasure

It’s easy to see why the mineral by-product of smelting would carry a vulgar connotation on Cybertron. But it’s odd that “slag” becomes the general expletive, especially with other profane words existing and readily available. It fits well within the universe, keeping it interesting, but the overuse holds it back. What we have isn’t a traditional censor slip, but its use within the dialog as that of a one-note go-to replacer is disappointing. This, unfortunately, lessens its impact and turns what could have been a decent instance of faux profanity into more of a joke.

Final Score: 3.0

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Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.