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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bad Language: When We Liked It and When We Didn't

We mostly DON'T like it,unless it is used extremely well. It needs to be necessary/realistic or humorous. When foul language is thrown around for no reason other than to include foul language, we feel drained during the movie. Foul language should punctuate something that is already there, rather than just exist for its own sake. It’s like some makers want to prove that their movie is hip, modern, and edgy, so they just throw in some curse words. Is it the worst thing in the world for a modern, adult movie to lack characters that curse like sailors? Most people really don’t speak like that.

Also, we remember being underage movie buffs. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your parents say no to you seeing a movie that looks really good, just because they added an unnecessary word that you ALREADY KNOW.

We think that every detail of a movie should serve a purpose, down to the shoes a character wears. Because to throw it around aimlessly just makes it so that people who are bothered by bad language can’t enjoy the movie and fewer people can go see it. If you cut out some audience members, it needs to be worth it. Why not imply dirtiness, like in Shrek? It takes more cleverness and it’s more enjoyable for dirty minds to feel like they are in on a secret joke. However, there are times when the movie or TV show calls for a bad word or two. Example time.


X-Men First Class: There is one F-bomb in this movie, and it’s probably the funniest part in the whole thing. We won’t ruin it by describing the context, but if you’ve seen it, we know you will agree.

Die Hard: What would this movie be without John McClane’s catchphrase, “Yippee Ki Yay Mother****er?”

Anything like Goodfellas (there were 300 f-bombs in this gem), The Departed, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, American History X, Casino, The Usual Suspects, Inglorious Basterds, and Scarface. Why? Because these are movies that deal largely with criminals or military people. They are popping guys off right and left. Of course they are going to be the kind of guys who cuss up a storm. It’s realistic. Also, Fight Club. Fight Club can say whatever it wants. Unless it is this kind of movie, the cursing should not be constant. It should be carefully placed. We’re looking at you, Judd Apatow. Less is more.

The F-Word rant by Rocco in The Boondock Saints: It illustrated the diversity of the word, duh.

Sex and the City: Especially everything Samantha says. These curse words fit right into blunt, true, and hilarious statements. Curse away, ladies.

Samuel L. Jackson cursing in anything: The Snakes on a Plane. Sam having to emphasize that room 1408 was “an evil ****ing room.” And let’s not forget “Does He Look Like a b*tch?” Whether these things work for a movie or jar us out of them by making us laugh at Samuel L., these examples are at least memorable. Even his cursing wallet is legendary.

Gone With The Wind: One of us has a grandpa who refuses to curse and always quotes the famous Rhett Butler line as “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot.” Sorry, grandpa. It’s just not as good without the curse.

In Bruges: This one tossed around the C-word a lot, and it was perfect. It fit the characters/movie AND it was really funny. There was a whole conversation where someone insulted someone else’s kids with the word and then had to retract it.

Deadwood: If you enjoyed this HBO show, whether you enjoy cursing or not, you have to admit that the cursing in this series was at least especially creative.

South Park: Duh. One of us will only watch this show on DVD or in order to get the uncensored version.

Firefly and Serenity: When you can’t curse, you should. make up your own fantasy curse words that sound a lot like our curse words and can be said with the gusto, emotion, and humor of actual curse words. All of the effect and none of the consequences. We’ve been known to throw a “Gorram” around from time-to-time. Fantastic Mr. Fox did this well too.

Risky Business: Sometimes you just gotta say “What the ***” Indeed you do, sir.

Full Metal Jacket: We could have put this in the same paragraph where we talked about the military, but we think it should get its own special mention.

Super 8: There was an F-Word in this PG-13 movie. It wasn’t funny, it didn’t serve the story, and there was enough foul language in this movie from the little kids from the 60s anyway. We know middle-schoolers talk that way now, but did they then? Either way, it was too much for a movie that's sure to attract a young crowd. When the stoner said the f-word, we rolled our eyes, because it was just unnecessary.

Titanic: The fat bearded guy was talking to the old lady in the submarine and he said the f-word. Why? Once again, not funny, and we already knew that the fat guy was crass from his attitude. It added nothing to the movie. In fact, this might be our number-one most useless cursing instance of all time.

Good Will Hunting: You can make the argument that it’s realistic for these Boston down-and-outers to cuss a lot. But 154 times is more than enough for the audience to get the point. And it's such a feel-gooder that it's a shame our grandparents can't completely enjoy it. You can't make this edgy, people. It's saccharine. Very good saccharine, but still.

The King’s Speech: Apparently they WANTED a rating of “R” slapped on this movie. The cursing montage was funny and served a purpose in the movie, but the king didn’t need to say some of the worst curse words, and the movie could easily have gotten a PG or PG-13 rating, along with a wider audience. Because other than a few f-words, this movie is clean as a whistle. Were the makers desperate for street cred or something? What’s wrong with making a legitimately good movie that’s also clean? Maybe it will be compared to made for TV specials, but if you're rolling in the dough because a bunch of people got to see it and bring their kids, who cares?

Failure to Launch: Matthew McConawhatsit got mad at his fake girlfriend and shouted at her in the car, using a strong curse. Not only did it break the tone of the movie, but it was awkward and way too harsh. By the time they got back together, we couldn’t even be happy for them. If a guy yelled at us like that….

Cursing Anachronisms: Every time the word is said in a movie that is set in a time period where that word would not yet exist or be a curse. Examples: Braveheart, Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves

Any movie that is a PG-13 where they snuck in one random F-word that wasn’t necessary, just because they could get away with it. It’s like if they CAN, they feel like they have to. Examples: Big, My Best Friend’s Wedding, plenty of light romantic comedies, What Lies Beneath, Catch Me If You Can

Agree? Disagree? Always love cursing? Always think it's unnecessary? Any favorite or least-favorite cursing in your TV and movies?


  1. I hold the same rule for swearing in movies/tv as I do in real life. It's tacky and uneducated unless it adds something, like you guys said. I agree with most of your choices, especially King's Speech... I just felt uncomfortable. Gone with the Wind's "I don't give a damn" received a fine and was a big force behind the PG rating. But it MADE that movie.

    Gratuitous swearing is the same as gratuitous nudity, violence, and sex. It's fine when it adds something to the story/characters, but it's stupid when it's used just to be used.

  2. Agree. Sometimes with violence, the purpose of the movie is to show cool violence. Like with Kill Bill. We're fine with that.

    Violence, nudity, and sex sell tickets. People want to see it. Cursing, however, doesn't sell tickets in and of itself. Thus, it's more purposeless than violence and sex, practically.

  3. Language actually doesn't bother me when it's done in a witty and clever way. They're just words and they really don't offend me. I disagree with you on The King's Speech - that scene was fine with me, and I understood the purpose.

  4. That's funny. We know people who don't mind sex and violence at all, but language is a deal-breaker for them. We know someone who stopped watching Sex and the City JUST because of the language.

    We didn't personally mind The King's Speech language and thought that everything in that movie was perfect. But were the f-words in that scene worth an R rating? Were they THAT necessary? Some cursing was necessary for that scene though.

  5. In X-men 1st class, you think the F-bomb was the funniest part of the movie?? Do you really believe a F-bomb is appropriate in a comic book based movie for the kids to hear?? Totally not necessary.

  6. We would agree with you if we remotely thought that X-Men First Class was for kids.

    It was PG13, there were plenty of sexual situations, torture, violence, an exploding man, and lots of other language. Mystique's body and bed hopping alone kept this from being a kid's movie.

    That's a movie for teens and adults, like fellow comic book movies 300, The Dark Knight, and Watchmen. Also not for kids.