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Festivale online magazine
A Reel Life film section
March - April, 2001
The first instance of swearing really getting to me was when I finally got to see the uncut version of Robocop. When it was first released at the cinema in Australia, cuts had been made so that it could be rated for the PG or M crowd, I can't remember which. It was an enjoyable enough film, though the dubbing of the word arsehole into the word airhead was laughable. Then I saw the uncut version.
As you may recall, during Robocop's first night on patrol, he interrupts a bearded gent into the middle of robbing a small convenience store. The robber opens fire on Robo with his semi-automatic and starts screaming "F*ck me!" repeatedly. This disappointed me because the earlier dubbed version had dialogue that was more relevant and a damn sight funnier. The cinema version had him yelling "Why me!" over and over again. It really fit the scene beautifully. You're in the middle of what should just be a quick and easy robbery and it's interrupted by some bloody great cyborg telling you you're under arrest. What else are you going to be thinking?
Another, admittedly small, change in dialogue was when Clarence Bodaker appears at the home of the young executive who headed the Robocop project. The unedited version has him saying to the two young women entertaining the exec, "B*tches leave." In the edited version he said, "Ladies leave," which I think actually gave him a modicum of class and was an interesting side of the guy whose brutalities we were witnessing.
Now lets roll forward a bit to Pulp Fiction. This is an excellent film, with a cleverly constructed story, good actors and good characters. Some of the characters, Jules and Vincent are the main example here, swear constantly during the course of the film but, and this is very important, it seems natural for them to do it. I've worked with people who swear in every sentence and it's just something that they do. It's not done to appear cool or tough. Pulp Fiction also contains a number of characters that don't swear.|
Since Pulp Fiction we've been inundated by badly scripted rubbish where cinematic shorthand for a tough character is to have him swear a lot. It's the equivalent of the stock sex scene between the two main characters.
The last year or two, just about every film I saw had lots of (in my opinion) unnecessary swearing. It was constant and I began to grow very tired of it. As my frustration at this trend grew, I started to wonder, 'Is it me? Am I just turning into an old fuddy-duddy?' Then along came the South Park movie.
It's full of bad language. The catchiest song (based on Oklahoma) is called Uncle F*cka and is so catchy even my mother caught herself singing it! And all the four letter words used during the movie are important to the characters and even the story. In fact the finale centres around the use of swearing. And it reminded me of a most simple fact. That I probably wouldn't have been as aware of the instances of bad language in some of those other films if they'd taken the time to polish their story and actually work on their characterisation. If they'd simply cared about what they were doing the experience would have been better all around.
So thanks, Matt and Trey. You showed me that the problem wasn't that I was getting older, it was just that the films were getting sh*ttier. Keep up the good work, folks.
(Danny can be heard saying "Doctor Who is a f*ckin' cool show," and that "Star Trek - Voyager is sh*t," because he hasn't the intelligence or emotional stability to critique these shows properly.)
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: Mar-2001 Last updated: Last tested: 15-Oct-2001
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