Did that get your attention?
That’s the name of the movie I saw last night, as part of the San Francisco Independent Film Festival. It’s a documentary about the word, not a portrayal of the act, so don’t be offended.
Or be offended. That’s the power of fuck I suppose.
It explored the modern history of this most versatile word through anecdotes and interviews with a variety of notables, including Ice T, Pat Boone, Sam Donaldson, Judith Martin, Bill Maher, Hunter S. Thompson, Sandra Tsing Lo, and dozens of other actors, directors, commedians, linguists, news commentators, politicians, scholars and people on the street.
It gathered some of the most famous fucks ever uttered in film and television. And in real life, from the likes of Lenny Bruce, Richard Nixon, Bono, Dick Cheney and both George Bushes.
The word of course makes a most forceful denunciation (fuck you or fuck off) or insult (fucker, dumbfuck or fuckhead), but it also works perfectly to emphasize (abso-fucking-lutely), sometimes to seduce (fuck me) and often simply to interject (fuck!). It can be almost any – and every – word in a sentence. Sometimes it simply feels good to say it. Sometimes it’s the only word that seems to work at all.
We worry about our society’s children hearing it or, god forbid, saying it, and great pains are taken to protect them. But we all learned it eventually – mostly on the street and not from movies or television or music as commonly decried by the self-appointed advocates of common decency and family values.
Ultimately, however, we need the word, and we need it to continue to have the power that it does. So I hope Lenny Bruce is the last person ever jailed for saying it, and I hope the FCC is never successful in levying another fine against someone for exercising his first ammendment right to utter it.
But may it always offend the moral majority, in every context.
And may it always offend the rest of us whenever our children and grandmothers are around.
Because it would be tragic if fuck became just another word.