Rating: Unrated in the U.S. (“R” in Canada, “R21” in Singapore)
Length: 93 minutes (1:33)
Director: Steve Anderson
My Rating: 10 of 10
Family Friendly: Do you honestly think it would be family friendly, when even the title was censored?
ONE SENTENCE REVIEW: I’ve always known the F-word was bad (and important) but this documentary forever changed the way I view our hypocritical culture and the meaning of our language.
(mostly in interview footage or archive footage) Steven Bocho, Pat Boone, Drew Carey, George Carlin, Billy Connolly, Chuck D., Sam Donaldson, Janeane Garofalo, Ice-T, Janet Jackson, Ron Jeremy, Bill Maher, Alanis Morissette, Eddie Murphy, Tera Patrick, Kevin Smith, Hunter S. Thompson, and Justin Timberlake
Director Steve Anderson admits that this documentary “leans a little to the left” (in an interview included on the DVD), but I was surprised at how many conservative voices he included in the film.
Pat Boone is probably the biggest name among these, and he delights the audience with the revelation that he uses his own last name in place of profane language. (“I Booned my wife last night.”)
The film explores the cultural significance of the F-word (which I won’t use in this review, since it would most likely result in this page being rated “adult”). Interviews are conducted with linguists, historians, porn stars, authors, musicians, filmmakers, politicians, journalists (Sam Donaldson!), and others.
The F-word, which had to be used in the film (otherwise what was the point?), is used over 800 times in 93 minutes.
The main point being explored, as least for me, is: “Why is this word so bad?” And, “What harm does it really cause?”
But the theme often shifts gears quickly, and without notice, covering linguistic censorship, the religious right, the FCC, and other food for thought.
For instance, the documentary points out the FCC’s craziness in handing out fines and rulings. One year, they ruled that Bono’s use of the word on network television was fine, because it was used as and adjective instead of a noun or verb. The next year, they overturned their own ruling, deciding that Bono had used a horrible word. Even sillier, the next year, the FCC decided that it was fine to run “Saving Private Ryan” uncut on network television, which contains several uses of the F-word.
It’s also pointed out that so-called conservative politicians use the F-word in public, without much outcry from the religious right — the same people who’re trying to ban the word in movies, books, and television shows. There’s an interview with Dick Cheney about his use of the F-word on the Senate floor (a public place), and there’s film footage of President George W. Bush holding up his middle finger for the camera.
This film is worth a watch if you just enjoy hearing the F-word used repeatedly (but not gratuitously), or if you want to be educated on the subject.
Of course, being a defender of the First Amendment, I enjoyed the documentary, and realized once again that if we let just a few words get censored, it’s that much easier for the crazies to censor all the rest.