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Old 09-10-2019, 11:49 AM
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The over-use of "Fuck" (and all its variations) in TV & movie dialog


Just finished the first season of The Leftovers on HBO. It takes place in a town not too dissimilar to the one I live in and the people appear to be much like the folks I interact with every day. In a single episode the script has the characters say the word "fuck" more frequently than I will ever hear it used over a year (outside of TV or movie consumption).

How many "fucks" (or "fuck" variations) do you hear and use every day?
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:09 PM
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Just finished the first season of The Leftovers on HBO. It takes place in a town not too dissimilar to the one I live in and the people appear to be much like the folks I interact with every day. In a single episode the script has the characters say the word "fuck" more frequently than I will ever hear it used over a year (outside of TV or movie consumption).

How many "fucks" (or "fuck" variations) do you hear and use every day?
More these days than before. Under the circumstance of the show, it's actually understandable that a lot of the verbal guardrails will have disappeared along with some of the population.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:21 PM
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It's varied a lot over my lifetime. The years not long after college where I was working as a supervisor in manufacturing and spending one weekend a month in uniform I heard and said it very often. We could be talking about dozens of times a day. I can think of years around a certain NCO where I could hear it a couple dozen times in a short conversation with him on my drill weekends. That's not an exaggeration.

Now, I hear and use it a lot less. I suspect I still use fuck and a host of other swear words more than you are used to. You might not notice if I were your neighbor. Swearing is part of my code shifting for the expected audience. It might not be your town but people adjusting how they talk when around you.

If 2% of the population simply disappeared without explanation, I suspect my experienced fuck to day ratio would increase.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:22 PM
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When I was in college and the Navy, probably dozens of times per day (from friends in college, and from shipmates and friends in the Navy).
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:22 PM
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We watched It (2017) again last weekend in preparation for watching It Chapter Two this weekend (we saw the former when it was in theaters two years ago), and I remarked to my wife that screenplay's usage of the word "fuck" by boys in their young teens was extremely realistic (and it may not have been in the screenplay; I've read that a lot of the dialog was ad-libbed). It starts early, or at least it started early for my friends and me.

I would guess that I personally say "fuck" and its variations at least 10 times a day, mostly on my commute to and from work. I'm also with E-DUB; there was a time when I tried to temper my language but that's over now.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:26 PM
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I "drop f-bombs" throughout the day. I try to watch when kids are present, but some slip through.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:12 PM
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first thing I thought of reading OP (spoilered for brief partial nudity):

edited: I don't think spoilering satisfies the two-click rule. search for "The Wire F***" and you'll find the scene.

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Old 09-10-2019, 01:50 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H4m08ldf_g
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:53 PM
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I don't curse in general. When I drop something on my toe something sort of like a four letter word comes out ... usually. But not always.

I generally don't enjoy people who curse a lot. OTOH, that scene from The Wire is great.

It's always about how the word is used, not the word itself. Bunk and McNutty were demonstrating the power of communication using a limited vocabulary.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:05 PM
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I never curse IRL. (I'm angelic)
I curse more here on the Dope than I ever have. Funny that.
Little anecdote, Mid-dau's oldest went to 1st grade and promptly told a kid at his table to 'fuck-off', they got called to school. They told the school peeps they would discipline him at home. After about..idk..the 5th time they got called to the school Daughter told them to discipline him at school, as needed.. He quit cursing within a week.

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Old 09-10-2019, 03:01 PM
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In both the entertainment world and real life, "fuck" is used so often it's lost nearly all its power to shock and offend. It's where "goddamn" (or even just "damn") was 50 years ago. I think in another century, the f-word will be about as offensive as we think the British use of "bloody" is now.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:03 PM
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I have to admit, I saw the youtube cite, and thought it was this infamous scene from "The Wire." Fantastic acting. The best example I've seen of some comedian's observation that the word, "Fuck," usage in contemporary society was similar to how Hawaiians were popularly thought to have used, "Aloha."

Scene is behind spoiler tags to comply with two click rule: Edit: besides profanity, scene has photos of a deceased, naked female the detectives are using at the crime scene. So really NSFW.


Last edited by Gray Ghost; 09-10-2019 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:16 PM
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Aloha-you just doesn't quite pack the same force.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:47 PM
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:50 PM
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It seems to be one of those things where some segments of the culture use the word all the time, and some don't use it at all. Someone mentioned "code switching" which I think is an appropriate description. In groups that use the word extensively, one joins in to signal group affinity, and vice versa. For me, I work in office settings and university settings, and my out-of-work associations are with the same people - the word is just not used.

Consequently, when I hear the word used frequently in TV/Movies, for me it calls attention to itself. I don't automatically reject hearing it, I'm not a pearl clutching type, but I do find myself taken out of the story a bit and asking, "Is that too much? Is that situationally or character appropriate?"

When it's used by energetic pre-teen boy characters or small children I find it to be a too common trope (Ha ha, how many times have I seen THAT before?). Sometimes I find myself thinking, based on what's been presented, that those children aren't being raised in a home where that language is acceptable, so it comes off as clanky in the dialog.

But, there are many many characters and situations where the common use of the word fits. It then becomes a creative choice as to using the word.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:28 PM
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The all-time winner for greatest number of gratuitous f-bombs in a movie may be "Eight Million Ways To Die".

I'm thinking in particular of a scene at a deserted warehouse where the bad guys have Rosanna Arquette duct-taped to a shotgun and are attempting to trade her to Jeff Bridges for a stash of drugs. The lengthy and unintentionally laughable scene escalates in tension to the point where the protagonists are semi-continuously screaming FUCK YOU!!! and related pleasantries at each other.

Yet another instance of an audio segment which would be fun to play over the P.A. system at work on one's last day.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:47 PM
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It seems to be one of those things where some segments of the culture use the word all the time, and some don't use it at all.
Yep. And sometimes some people just use it far more than others. I have two very close drinking buddies. One hardly ever uses fuck and the other basically says it every other sentence.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:21 PM
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Consequently, when I hear the word used frequently in TV/Movies, for me it calls attention to itself. I don't automatically reject hearing it, I'm not a pearl clutching type, but I do find myself taken out of the story a bit and asking, "Is that too much? Is that situationally or character appropriate?"

When it's used by energetic pre-teen boy characters or small children I find it to be a too common trope (Ha ha, how many times have I seen THAT before?). Sometimes I find myself thinking, based on what's been presented, that those children aren't being raised in a home where that language is acceptable, so it comes off as clanky in the dialog.
With me, it's gotten to the point where I scarcely notice it unless it's called attention to in the scene (e.g., the Scarface link). When that happens, you can almost always guarantee the character complaining about another character's language will end up dropping a few f-bombs herself. That's why the scene in Inside Llewellyn Davis where the title character of gets admonished by his sister for using "fuck" and other expletives was so subversive. You fully expect the sister will get angry and start swearing a blue streak but it doesn't happen.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:56 PM
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Just finished the first season of The Leftovers on HBO. It takes place in a town not too dissimilar to the one I live in and the people appear to be much like the folks I interact with every day. In a single episode the script has the characters say the word "fuck" more frequently than I will ever hear it used over a year (outside of TV or movie consumption).

How many "fucks" (or "fuck" variations) do you hear and use every day?
Dozens I would guess. It's a normal part of my vocabulary; I try to watch it around kids (although I will let it slip around my kids sometimes). With people I don't know, I will also curb it, but my natural flow of speech is peppered with emphatic "fucks" and their variations.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:04 PM
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I mean, put it this way, I've never watched a TV show or a movie and thought to myself, "that is an unrealistic number of f-bombs in that dialogue." I mean, maybe if it was My Little Pony dialogue, I might be like, what the fuck is going on here, but, otherwise, no.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:05 PM
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Dozens I would guess. It's a normal part of my vocabulary; I try to watch it around kids (although I will let it slip around my kids sometimes). With people I don't know, I will also curb it, but my natural flow of speech is peppered with emphatic "fucks" and their variations.
Its lost its shock value if a film dont have curse e words that much more shocking.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:48 PM
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I thought it was rediculously over used in Margin Call. Wolf of Wall Street didn't seem that bad.
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:36 AM
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I don't swear at all around my kids but my wife and I, when alone, swear for fun, inventively and offensively.
I swear very rarely at work.
I swear copiously when playing football.
I don't mind my kids watching stuff with swearing in.

I've told my kids that I don't care how they talk with their friends but that they need to have awareness of what they say and where they say it and the consequences thereof. That's why they don't hear me say it, it is a lesson from me in the possibility of moderating what you say. When their mother accidentally lets fly (which she has on occasions) they are shocked and surprised, which seems to me to be a good thing.

As was mentioned above, I want the words to keep their power and using it as punctuation seems to me to be a dilution of it. I prefer it to be a rare usage and all the more shocking because of it. "always keep a cunt up your sleeve" as my old granny used to say.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:27 AM
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I don't think I used the F word until I was in my 30's! I'm in my 50's now and use it often. It's not as taboo as it once was. I don't use it every day. But when I do use it, it sure seems to make a point. It's a satisfying word when I use it! My favorite variation of the word is "fiddle-fucking" as in "quit fiddle-fucking around and let's get going."
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:38 AM
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The trend in usage has been toward something like this:

Quote:
I went to this fucking bar and saw this fucking blonde and she was fucking stacked so I fucking talked to her and bought her a couple fucking drinks until we got in her fucking car and went back to her fucking place to have sexual intercourse.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:58 AM
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Personally, I am quite circumspect in public, and especially at work. Believe me, I have no issues with the word, but would rather not use it gratuitously.

Of course among friends, and over beers and hockey, I may deviate slightly from my public persona.

I started a thread once about the overuse of the word in a pub I frequent. Sometimes kids are here with parents, and sometimes, especially jazz Sundays there are elderly customers. They don't need to be exposed to that.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:22 AM
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I started a thread once about the overuse of the word in a pub I frequent. Sometimes kids are here with parents, and sometimes, especially jazz Sundays there are elderly customers. They don't need to be exposed to that.
I'm on the fence here. If I'm in a bar/restaurant and I'm sitting at the bar, letting an f-bomb drop isn't a big deal. I'm at a bar. If you choose to bring the kids, either find a table far from the bar, or accept that language may be more coarse than your kids are used to.

As for "elderly customers", as a 61 year old, I say fuck that noise. We're often the worst. But, yeah, "jazz Sundays" sounds like you go to a classier bar than I do.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:22 PM
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I'm no prude and have said it many times in my life, but if I'm watching something and it's used excessively, it can take me out of the story. I think when it's overused in a TV show or movie, it's simply lazy writing. Like in Succession. The main characters routinely use it, no joke, like every 3rd word during an emotional rant sometimes. I've been working most of my adult life in a high stress office environment with professionals; I'll hear it or use it every now and then, but generally for emphasis. When it's used in dialogue as frequently as it often is in Succession, it dilutes the value of the word and, in my opinion, can ruin the scene.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:44 PM
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I teach an introduction to computer class to college students. As we talk about operating systems, I show the progression from DOS to Lisa to Mac and to Windows. To introduce Mac I show the Apple 1984 commercial, which I explain to the students was shown only once during the 1984 Superbowl. I then tell them that a bunch of us computer nerds were at a friend's house when the commercial came on. Then I say, "When the commercial was over, we turned to each other and said, 'What the FUCK was that?' ". It gets the biggest (shocked) laugh of the entire semester. (It's about the only time I use fuck in my classes.)
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:48 PM
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I teach high school. Near as I can tell, teenagers use the word as punctuation.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:49 PM
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In Deadwood, the word “fuck” is used 2980 times in 36 episodes, at a rate of 1.56 FPM (fucks per minute).
Now who the fuck will dare challenge this stat?
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:02 PM
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I had an instructor that it was almost a nervous tic - she used it in place of the normal "um" or "ugh". It was very odd and took some getting used to.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:16 PM
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In Deadwood, the word “fuck” is used 2980 times in 36 episodes, at a rate of 1.56 FPM (fucks per minute).
Now who the fuck will dare challenge this stat?
And yet, the dialogue is fucking Shakespearian.

I don't use it at work, because it is not appropriate in my workplace. I used to use it and an assortment of other colorful words in my off time. I now have kids, and, while I would not care if they used those words, as long as they used them correctly, I know they are not old enough to know when it's appropriate and when it's not. So I now use the words only very rarely, when I'm not at work and not around my kids (or other kids).

Naturally, one of my kids came home from kindergarten one day spouting 4 cuss words, like a memorised recitation piece. Whoever taught him helpfully taught him how to spell fuck and shit, too. So now I have to enforce their nonusage, because I don't want my kids to to be the ones spreading them around. Maybe I should have just been teaching them about proper context all along...
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:41 PM
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I try to use it only sparingly and for good effect. But lately I find myself all too often muttering "fuckfuckfuckfuck" under my breath like Geoffrey Rush's character coaching up Colin Firth in The King's Speech.
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:30 PM
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We watched It (2017) again last weekend in preparation for watching It Chapter Two this weekend (we saw the former when it was in theaters two years ago), and I remarked to my wife that screenplay's usage of the word "fuck" by boys in their young teens was extremely realistic (and it may not have been in the screenplay; I've read that a lot of the dialog was ad-libbed). It starts early, or at least it started early for my friends and me.
Maybe so. But for teenagers in the 80s when the film is set, I think it was a bit much. I was a teenager in the 80s. My friends were a little rougher than the Losers Club and we used fuck freely, but my sense is that kids like the Losers didn't use as much bad language back then as in the film.


The film that first raised my eyebrows regarding overuse of the word was the Blair Witch Project. I remember thinking that the characters sounded like morons. Maybe they didn't have a fixed script and were expected to ad lib and so just fell back on FUCK when they didn't know what to say. Did not feel natural to me though.

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Old 09-11-2019, 02:43 PM
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I will let Stephen Fry deliver my counterpoint to the OP.

I use the word dozens of times a day.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:29 PM
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I have yet to encounter a film, TV show or book in which the use of that word seemed unrealistic, or somehow broke my immersion in the work. It seems like something that would come out of disapproval. I mean, even if it seems like a lot of use, why wouldn't it just be part of the characterization?
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:35 PM
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Maybe so. But for teenagers in the 80s when the film is set, I think it was a bit much. I was a teenager in the 80s. My friends were a little rougher than the Losers Club and we used fuck freely, but my sense is that kids like the Losers didn't use as much bad language back then as in the film.
I found it a bit jarring myself. When I was a teen in the 60s we wouldn't have used "fuck" so freely at that age, nor talked about sex, although we would have when we were a few years older.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:06 PM
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I now have kids, and, while I would not care if they used those words, as long as they used them correctly, I know they are not old enough to know when it's appropriate and when it's not. So I now use the words only very rarely, when I'm not at work and not around my kids (or other kids).
I won't use them around other kids, but I will sometimes let an f-bomb fly in front of my 5- and 3-year olds. Perhaps that makes me a bad father, but what I find surprising is that they know that it's not a word they're supposed to use. Like, I never drilled it into them that it's an "adult" word or anything like that. Somehow, both my daughters have picked up on the nature of the word and don't use it. And it's not like I typically use it in anger, more like disappointment or dejection or punctuation, watching a ballgame and yelling "what the fuck are you doing?!?!" or "what the fuck was that?" or something of that nature. It's pretty fascinating to me how they've naturally just figured out there's words they're not supposed to say with very little explicit instruction from me (I think maybe once or twice a year I've told them not to use a certain word, but it's always been pretty humorous when they've brought it out. Now, the 5-year-old will sometimes ask me "Can we say 'what the hell'?" and "Can we say 'what the heck'? And I'm like, yeah, sure, but try not to say either at school. They've just somehow developed a sense for it. Kids are smart.)

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Old 09-11-2019, 05:15 PM
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I recall Steve Martin promoting Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on David Letterman's show back in 1987. Dave asked something along the lines of "Is this a family-friendly movie?"
Martin replied, "Well, I do say the f-word 21 times. (pause) But they're all within 37 seconds." Big laugh. I thought he was kidding until I saw the film.

That's how you make the word mean something.

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Old 09-11-2019, 07:05 PM
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My wife and I say "fuck" all the time. We swear quite liberally. I swear around my friends. I don't swear at work, but fuck that. I find its use in TV and movies perfectly reasonable.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:44 PM
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Like, fuck is not like the word that I, like, wish the millenials I, like, know, would, like, use less frequently.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:26 PM
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And yet, the dialogue is fucking Shakespearian.
I daresay Shakespeare used a lot of words, now obsolete in their original sense, the modern equivalent of which would get bleeped on TV.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:28 PM
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I use the word all the fucking time.

It's often the first word I say in the morning.

That's because my life sucks. Always has.

Swearing is the one vice I allow myself.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:32 AM
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I'm very careful not to swear around our African Grey. He will outlive us, and I don't want his vocabulary to be a hindrance for rehoming.

When a friend moved to Jamaica, I took his Blue&Gold Macaw so that I could find him a new home. I kept the bird at work in an attempt to find a sucker caring bird lover. He had a tiny vocabulary consisting of "hello" and "fuck". He'd say "hello" maybe once a day, and "fuck" maybe twice a week. He sabotaged one of his potential homes by saying "fuck" loudly and clearly one day. It took close to a year to place the bird.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:44 AM
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The problem is that people are now parroting the cursing of others!
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:10 AM
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I'm no prude and have said it many times in my life, but if I'm watching something and it's used excessively, it can take me out of the story. I think when it's overused in a TV show or movie, it's simply lazy writing.
Exactly! The main reason I couldn't stand Another Life on Netflix was the overused expletives. (OK, that and the entire premise was stupid, but that's another thread...)

Back in '73, when I was a naive new sailor at the training command in Memphis, I was waiting in line for something and a young Marine behind me was talking to his friend - it seemed like every other word was a variation on fuck. I don't know if he thought he was manly or defiant or whatever, but he came across to me like an uneducated child trying to act like he was tough. That's what I remember when the fucks fly.

And yes, I've dropped the f-bomb myself, but only when the situation warranted it. I'm classy like that.
  #48  
Old 09-12-2019, 08:28 AM
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Dennis Miller, when he was funny, and doing his short Rant Zone bits:

Now, while I have upon occasion been labeled the E.B. White of the word "fuck,"
you do have to admit that I went an entire football season without saying it.
Take it from a connoisseur, it should be used sparingly, like saffron in a
fucking paella.

See--the word "fuck" is a beauty, isn't it? From its fricative genesis,
blossoming into its ripe, rich middle until its cruelly truncated in its prime
by a merciless, glottal stop... In all of its earthy, salty, illicit
Anglo-Saxon glory, "fuck" is almost as satisfying to say as it is to do.
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:26 AM
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I always think of this scene from Midnight Run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouxkn8f0Jr8

In about 60 seconds De Niro and Joe Pants say it at least a dozen times (or at least that's where I lost count).
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschrodinger View Post
I have yet to encounter a film, TV show or book in which the use of that word seemed unrealistic, or somehow broke my immersion in the work. It seems like something that would come out of disapproval. I mean, even if it seems like a lot of use, why wouldn't it just be part of the characterization?
Designated Survivor was a network show for a couple of seasons and then got cancelled and somehow ended up getting picked up by Netflix. In the first couple of seasons, when Keifer Sutherland was getting really wound up because of a bad situation where lives were at stake he might call someone a son of a bitch. Along comes Netflix, with no language restrictions. Now all of a sudden every adult character is swearing like a sailor all the time and even the pre-teen daughter is describing things as "shitty". It was a jarring change of pace.

Lucifier was in the same situation (Fox to Netflix) and they used the language liberty but sparingly. At one point a character who is an actual demon says "you scared the shit out of me!" and at another point a dismayed character tells Lucifer that everything he touches turns to shit (which is generally shown to be true). I thought that was a nice balance.
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