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Everything You Wanted to Know About 'F*ck'
New documentary takes a look at this vicious word
Brian Orndorf (briano)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-10 15:45 (KST)   
A 90-minute documentary devoted to a single serving of swearing? The odds are against "Fuck" right from the start.

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The title is provocative and the intentions are fascinating and unique; "Fuck" examines the history of the dreaded curse word, dipping into the history books, consulting experts, and generally throwing examples of the word's vivid elasticity up on the screen to illuminate the supremacy of language and the abuse of expletives.

At first, "Fuck" is quite cute in a round-about way. Interviewing a host of varying personalities, including Hunter Thompson, Tera Patrick, Dennis Prager, Ice T, and Pat Boone, the film charmingly starts to peel back the potency of the f-word, probing its roots in medieval poetry, common misconceptions (it's not an acronym), and status today as the top banana curse. "Fuck" covers the universal use of the word, showing clips from films ("Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," "Punch-Drunk Love," "Scarface"), television shows ("Deadwood"), music (N.W.A.), and even an audio transmission from Apollo 16 as examples on how pervasive the f-bomb is in our society.

"Fuck" starts off buoyantly, using cartoon interstitials by Bill Plympton to warm up the mood of the project and keeping the pace generally snappy without losing itself in an editing haze. The viewer will learn more than they ever wanted to know about the f-word, and the filmmakers feel the same way too. Suddenly, "Fuck" takes a sharp left turn.

Overall, "Fuck" is looking to explore the motivation of the First Amendment, and how it's being interpreted by both politicians and the public. The documentary quickly becomes a primer on the free speech battle, recalling the struggles of Lenny Bruce, Howard Stern, and Janet Jackson as three entertainers smacked down by the government for expressing themselves. The film also examines the rise of the Parents Television Council, an organization that has made it their priority to clean up the airwaves for us all, using tactics that exploit the uselessness and hypocrisy of the FCC to further their iffy agenda.

Of course, this being a documentary made in the last six years, most of the evildoing ties to George W. Bush and the rise of religious fundamentalism. I'm not convinced it's that simple, but "Fuck" makes strong arguments otherwise. The film tends to derail when it tackles pedestrian political subjects such as the scary hypocrisy of Dick Cheney's foul mouth, allowing colossal blowhards like Prager and Janeane Garafalo their cherished moments of eye-rolling.

"Fuck" soon returns to the smutty origin of its subject, and the blood rushes back into the film. This is an interesting peek at the birth of swearing, and the power of the spoken word. Featuring over 800 uses of the titular word during the 90 minutes (and because of Patrick's involvement, some sexually explicit footage thrown in as well), a warning must be sent out for particularly sensitive viewers: this film is not for you. Though the more steely and mischievous should have a blast with this creative and revealing, virtually unmarqueeable documentary.

B+
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Brian Orndorf

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