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For as long as motion pictures have existed, society has maintained certain standards of decency to accompany them. That being said, the nature of these standards has fluctuated somewhat over the years. Swearing in particular has a cinematic history that extends all the way back to the advent of sound on film and has evolved slowly into the style of vulgarity we know and love today. A new video has just hit the web showcasing the evolution of swearing on film over the years, check it out below.
The video – released by Movie Munchies – chronicles the long and glorious history of swearing on film. Based on the clip, it is generally believed that the first utterance of a curse word in a major motion picture came in 1929, with the use of the word "damn." "Son of a bitch" followed one year later, and "fuck" was said for the first time on film in 1933. Such practice remained relatively common for the first few years of film's existence, but eventually the MPAA cracked down on swearing in films and banned the practice; films that opted to include swearing – such as Gone with the Wind – incurred heavy fines for doing so. Although it may have cost them roughly $85,000 to do so, we feel beyond thrilled that the forces behind the iconic Civil War drama had the gumption to include the legendary line, "Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn."
The year 1968 saw the ban on swearing lifted by the MPAA, and slowly but surely harsh language made its way back into motion pictures. In Cold Blood became the first movie to use the world "bullshit," while MASH became the first movie in decades to return to the use of the word "fuck." Over time the practice became more and more widespread, allowing new swear words to be spoken even by big name actors. Eventually Jack Nicholson became the first A-list celebrity to swear on camera in 1971’s Carnal Knowledge, and Al Pacino broke the record for most uses of the word "fuck" in 1983’s Scarface. If you've seen the film, you know he earned each and every one of those "fucks."
These days PG-13 films have generally become the most profitable forms of film, and as a result the use of swear words is often cleverly edited out or simply forgone altogether. Still, movies that wish to utilize swearing and garner an R-rating can pretty much do so with complete impunity. If you fancy yourself a fan of history, vulgarity, or both, do yourself a favor and check out the video at the top of the page. From now on if you ever stop to think that movies may somehow be getting ruder, dirtier, and generally more crass, just remember one very important thing: swearing on film is a Hollywood tradition that has existed for generations.