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.

Art Deco Theatre

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.


  1. We are with you about movies; expensive and don't get me on the subject of how much a bottle of water costs at a movie theater :)

    I totally agree, a lot more profanity all over the place. You watch something on reguar TV and you can hear the beeping going on all the time because they have to beep out the offensive language (like watching reality shows). Once the words get in your vocabulary and you're comfortable using them, I'm sure it is hard to chance the habit and not use them. It does not make it enjoyable to watch things if those words are just thrown all over the place.


  2. Completely agree about going to the cinema - I think UK prices are even more prohibitive - we can easily spend £35 for a family of 4!

    I don't usually mind swearing - I'm able to filter it out. But I was very aware of it the other day at work when I was talking to an elderly man. Another guy came over (someone who uses the F-word a lot, for him it's natural) but he continued to swear in front of this other man without even thinking about modifying his language. I was quite embarrassed.

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

  3. My husband said when he was in college, there was a Scarface drinking game. You drink every time someone says the "F word." It's said 207 times in Scarface--and that isn't even close to being the worst. 569 times in The Wolf of Wall Street and 435 times in The Summer of Sam. Looking over the list of films with the most uses of the F word, I do notice how often mobster movies are on the list!