Dirty Words

Andy Rooney Offers His Thoughts On The F Word

Last weekend I saw Traffic, which is nominated for an Oscar as "Best Picture". If Traffic wins an Oscar tonight as Best Picture, I'll consider retiring on grounds that I no longer understand what the American public wants.

I made four notes about Traffic:

1. I didn't understand half of it.
2. I didn't like the half I did understand.
3. I thought the picture was fake arty. It's wrong to set out to produce a work of art. You try to produce something good and hope people call it a work of art.
4. The language was inexcusably dirty.

The vulgar four-letter F word was used 50 times. That's the actual number. This is a cheap trick by a writer to attract attention without saying anything.

I never understood how the widely used word for the act of sex ever got to be thought of as the dirtiest, most hateful word in the English language, anyway.

The other night I saw The Sopranos for the first time. It was interesting to watch, well acted, well directed. Better than Traffic, I thought, but like Traffic, gratuitously dirty. It didn't need 90 dirty words in 50 minutes.

It was as if the producers thought that the reviewers would say it was "honest and realistic" if the actors shouted enough filth.

Civilization is a bootstrap operation. We have to make a point of being civilized. Our best behavior doesn't always come naturally to us so we have imposed restrictions. Some are laws but a lot of restrictions are self-imposed - you know, just good manners.

Dirty words in a movie make everyone in the audience less civil by reducing them to what they're forced to think by what they hear together.

I saw Erin Brockovich. Now, Julia Roberts uses the F word, too, but I thought it was artistically justified. It contributed to the plot and helped make her the character that Erin Brockovich was supposed to be.

Football is rough game with a penalty for unnecessary roughness. There ought to be a penalty for a movie or television show that's unnecessarily dirty.

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