FUCK: The Movie

‘Ford’s Economics are the worst thing that’s happened to this country since pantyhose ruined finger-fucking.’
– President Lyndon B. Johnson

fuck_ver2.jpgI must admit that I have my reservations when it comes to films that are praised seemingly based on their extreme content or language. I wasn’t a fan of the South Park movie (139 Fucks), I thought Jay and Silent Bob was pretty middle of the road (248 Fucks)…it just isn’t a major selling point for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love the word Fuck, and there are many movies that make good use of it. (Planes, Trains and Automobiles comes to mind) Of course when I heard about director Steven Andersons feature length documentary ‘FUCK: The Movie’, I had flashbacks of the disappointingly unfunny ‘The Aristocrats’, a film that is an automatic failure if misaligned to your personal sense of humour. Luckily FUCK: The Movie isn’t just here to offend you or make you laugh. It shows us the sometimes frustratingly idiotic self-defense tactics of conservative American’s who feel that a simple word could corrupt their children and degrade their society.

The origin of the word is surprisingly still a mystery. The overwhelming consensus expressed in a series of ‘person on the street’ interviews (a tool used throughout the film) is that the FUCK was created as an acronym, (Fornication Under Consent/Consideration of the King) but interviews with linguists write off that theory as simple urban legend. It’s believed that Fuck was derived from words used to describe a forceful bang. Sounds about right. The word is present in writings from before 1500, but really began to shine in the 20th century. World War 2 gave life to Fuck, turning it into a noun, verb, adjective…I guess when you’re face first in the shit with all hell breaking loose from every which way but down, you tend to loose your face under the pressure and let a ‘FUCK’ slip from time to time. Yet another thing to be thankful for on Remembrance Day.

bush_middle_finger.jpgThe film seems to credit stand-up comedians as the pioneers of the common use of Fuck in popular culture and entertainment. Comic legend Lenny Bruce was a martyr of sorts, having been arrested 9 times as he attempted to bring his foul mouthed stand-up routine to the mainstream. He not only challenged his audiences, but also those who would attempt to deny American’s their right of freedom of speech. The film then shifts to politics, as we’re treated to a series of candid quotes from American presidents, past and present, as they colourfully (and sometimes hypocritically) drop the f-bomb. Fuck in music is looked at briefly, with a critic citing N.W.A.’s ‘Fuck the Police’ as one of the most important uses of the f-word in music history. And of course, television plays a major role in gauging the sensitivities of prime time audiences and the FCC as groundbreaking shows like NYPD Blue started dirtying up the small screen.

fuckanimation.jpgI gotta say the list of interview subjects in this film is pretty impressive. From Sam Donaldson to Kevin Smith to Hunter S. Thompson, (of whom the film is dedicated to) FUCK: The Movie has a great round-up of important players in the war on words. Although a large amount of the film is ‘talking heads’, the ‘Fuck in the News’ segments were nice breaks in the otherwise straight forward structure. News of a man who was fined 75 dollars for using the ‘F’ word in earshot of a Sheriff was both unbelievable and scary. It’s these quirky segments that held my interest, although the film does meander into some comedic territory that didn’t quite work for me. As for the overall style, I wasn’t a huge fan of Bill Plympton’s animated sequences, but that’s just personal taste.

At over 800 Fucks (that’s around 7 Fucks per minute) FUCK: The Movie is probably more entertaining than informative, but still manages to find a fair balance between the two, keeping those interested in the social/political impact of linguistics interested; and fans of fucking, getting fucked and being fucked entertained.

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