December 26, 2006

More royal linguistic movie filth

This is an update to my previous post on the linguistic filth in The Queen. Lock up your children, and prevent them from reading what follows.

Steve Wiley has kindly reminded me of a further episode in the film (I remember it now that he has mentioned it). As explained at the entry for this film at the ScreenIt movie review site, under the heading "Disrespectful/Bad Attitude: Heavy", Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie is depicted as strongly anti-monarchist, and after she and her husband are dismissed from their brief first meeting with the Queen, Cherie very briefly characterizes the Queen's attitude as "Thank you very much, now fuck off."

Steve continues:

The MPAA's standard, since the inception of the PG-13 rating c.1984 has been to allow one f-word utterance, as long as it is used as a "pure expletive," as it were, rather than explicitly. See the film rating board's pharisaic guideline, followed by a vague and rarely, if ever, invoked exception clause:

A film's single use of one of the harsher sexually derived words, though only as an expletive, shall initially require the Rating Board to issue that film at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive must lead the Rating Board to issue a film an R rating, as must even one of these words used in a sexual context. These films can be rated less severely, however, if by a special vote, the Rating Board feels that a lesser rating would more responsibly reflect the opinion of American parents.

I believe Kirby Dick's 2006 documentary on the subject, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, touches on this subject.

Now that Steven has pointed me to the ScreenIt site, I see that they are not only worried about what they present primly as "Thank you very much, now f*ck off"; they are also worried that children might imitate or be harmed by these other phrases from the script:

bugger it
screwed up
screw up
Where the hell is the flag?
freeloading, emotionally retarded nutters (They apparently don't know that last word; they give it as "natters".)
It's just daft.
bloody fool
bloody madness
old bat
oh, Christ
for God's sake
and two other uses of God

Well, I am not inclined to alter the judgment arrived at the earlier post. There is something wrong with a culture in which large numbers of people apparently feel that children as old as twelve must be protected from hearing people say that something is screwed up, or from witnessing utterances like Where the hell is the flag? in a serious film drama (or even It's just daft, which makes me wonder whether native speakers of English are doing this phrase-watching). I certainly want children protected from harm. But I don't want them kept in a fantasy land of light and fluffy language where no one ever utters a harsh word. It will turn them into... well, emotionally retarded nutters, if you'll pardon the phrase.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at December 26, 2006 03:01 PM