In one of my writer’s groups, we had a discussion about the “F” word. Actually, the discussion was about the overuse of the “F” word.
Years ago, I watched the movie Midnight Run with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin. I loved the movie. It was incredibly entertaining. It wasn’t just about a bounty hunter but a man still in love with his ex-wife. It was also filled with the F-word, and I do mean filled.
Before I returned the movie to the video store, back when people went to the video store, I thought I would watch it again, but this time keep an accurate count of just how many F-words there were.
The problem with so much colorful language was the incredible task of trying to keep score.
There’s not only the dialogue of the major players, there’s also the dialogue of the person in the background. What if someone leans their head out the window of a passing car and screams an obscenity? Then I had to decide if I should keep track of all the other foul words.
I did. This experiment wouldn’t work without it.
I had this enormous sheet with tic marks everywhere.
Then I had to try to figure out the many variations of the words to keep track of. There’s effing, effed, just plain straight up eff. There are plural effs, and singular eff’s, which brings up another point. Were there possessive eff’s? I don’t remember.
Sometimes the eff’s, and “B’s” and “P’s” were flying so fast I couldn’t keep up. I had to pause the VCR, back when people had VCR’s. I had to rewind, run it back and play it forward. Then, there’s the issue of did I already count that effing eff?
Phew, what a workout.
I don’t remember the count for sure, but I think it was in the neighborhood of 240. So, I took the figure & divided it into the total minutes of the movie. If it was a 100-minute film, that makes 2.4 foul words per minute.
Imagine a trip to the grocery store. “Where’s your effing cottage cheese?”
Clerk: Behind the effing sour cream, you ungrateful stupid b*+ch.
In everyday life, that means I’d come into work, and my co-worker would greet me.
“Good morning, Rhonda, how the eff are you?”
“I’m effing fine. How the eff are you? You effing rag, why can’t you leave me the eff alone?”
In an eleven-minute phone call, that means I have to fill the conversation with 26.4 curse words. I’d probably have to just let out a string of curse words. I wouldn’t even be able to use them all in a complete sentence. So: Eff, eff, eff, eff, eff, eff, effing b*+ch, pr*+k, eff, eff, eff.”
Customer: What was that for?
Me: Just filling my quota sir.
Of course, the point four would mean an interrupted or unfinished curse word.
Oops, can’t finish it. Only a .4 curse word.
Yes, I see the need for 240 curse words in a two-hour movie.
I had found this little experiment so interesting, that I tried to do it with another flick. A real two thumbs up film, back when we had two thumbs up reviews, Spike Lee’s, Do the Right thing.
I couldn’t keep up. There were eff’s flying so fast it boggled my mind and my tick calculator. I had to turn it off. I don’t know if the movie made me sick or the idea I had to be a math wizard.
I said I was going to write this as a blog post, and I effing did.