Saturday, April 18, 2015
A to Z Challenge: P is for Potty Mouths
My husband and I don't go to the movies a lot these days. Every so often if one is playing in the theatre that we're dying to see, we'll go, but it's become so expensive it's like going to see something on stage at the Kennedy Center; therefore, we only do it once or year or so. Most of what we watch is on television or through Netflix.
We started watching a new series on Netflix this week called Bloodlines. Not subject to the same FCC rules as mainstream television, the shows can have as much profanity in them as they want. And to be honest, this week I have been shocked and appalled at how often the f-bomb is used in this show. It's a shame because it's a great story with an engaging plot and terrific actors (Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Kyle Chandler), but I find it almost unwatchable due to the ridiculous amount of obscenities used.
And it's not just this show. I've noticed recently that this kind of language is spoken everywhere, and people think nothing of it. I hear the teenagers in the hall talking like a bunch of sailors--so much so that they have trouble remembering not to use these words when they're in the classroom. It's completely normal for them to speak that way, no doubt due to a culture that simply doesn't care if it's young people are crass and rude with no access to vocabulary beyond a bunch of expletives.
In David O. Selznick's 1939 film Gone with the Wind, Clark Gable's use of the word "damn" shocked the nation--a word prohibited by the Motion Picture Association's Production Code of 1934 addressing movie's use of profanity. The MPA had to quickly pass an amendment to their code to allow words such as "damn" and "hell" a month before the movie's release. The verbage of that amendment reads that these kind of words may be used if they are "...essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore...or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste."* That makes sense to me.
I'm not saying we not use any profanity ever in a film, but it seems absolutely preposterous to me that movie critics should have to count how many times the f-bomb is dropped in a film (such as Scorcese's Wolf of Wall Street--a movie I found equally unwatchable and ridiculous) and that's it's somehow used as part of the film's promotion. Are we making films for the sake of art and entertainment or just to see how foul, offensive, and shocking they can be?
That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. What is your opinion about the profanity used in films these days?
*"Frankly my dear I don't give a damn." Wikipedia. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015.