WHEN: 8:20pm EST, March 10th, 2012
WHERE: In my room in my apartment in Portland, ME (Alderaan)
FORMAT: DVD on a Phillips 20something″ CRT TV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Tired after a long day of work.
My quest in this viewing was to find out how many “dirty” words each character used over the course of the movie. For the purposes of this viewing, I chose to use Carlin’s traditional 7 dirty words: Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits.
Prior to this viewing, I have seen High Fidelity 9 times this year, and as such, one might assume that I would have a pretty good idea of how many times these words are used. I know I expected that I would. It was my belief that Shit and Fuck would be the most commonly used, but that there were also several Pisses, a few Tits, a couple of Motherfuckers, and probably one or two Cunts. My mind can distinctly hear Rob saying all of these words, and can place where in the movie they would occur. My tallying would only serve, I believed, to confirm the exact number of times these words were used.
As I began to watch, with my ears tuned in to pick up any obscenities, a funny thing occurred. At moments I was expecting Rob to shout out some conventionally unacceptable word, he would, in point of fact, not. When I expected to hear, “If you really wanted to fuck me up, you should have gotten to me earlier,” I instead heard, “If you really wanted to mess me up you should have gotten to me earlier.” This was most surprising. And it continued. About three out of every four times I expected to hear Rob or some other character swear, they did not. My mind had translated this already R-rated movie into one further laced with naughty words. Not only were my expectations incorrect in quantity, but also in quality of expletives. Unless I missed them, there were no uses of Piss, Cunt, or Tits in the film whatsoever. Even Motherfucker was used only a paltry two times (both in a fantasy sequence). In retrospect, the lack of these words is not surprising. Rob calling women Cunts is not Rob’s style. He says breasts, not Tits. He gets angry, not Pissed. And yet, I remembered him saying all these things. What the Fuck?
It may be worth noting that Barry starts off the Shit and Fuck saying, with his first line, “What the fuck is this shit?” Also, despite the constant sexual nature of the film, Marie DeSalle is the first character to use the word Fuck in a sexual manner.
Had I been tracking the use of the words Ass or Asshole, I would have had a lot more tick marks.
WHO DOES ALL THIS SWEARING?:
No surprises here. Rob, being on the screen for almost the entire film, has the lion’s share of the no-no words with 9 Shits, 20 Fucks, and the two aforementioned Motherfuckers. Barry comes in a close second with 2 Shits and 19 Fucks, quite impressive considering his significantly shorter time on-screen. Charlie picks up a distant third with 4 Fucks. For further numbers, please consult the following chart:
Please note that I have combined Vince and Justin into one person, because I cannot remember which is which yet, and because they swear while running, and it is hard to tell who says what.
I am not sure why my brain remembers the movie so inaccurately. This has really made me question the accuracy of my memory. It is both fascinating and frightening that I can watch this movie once a week and still create incorrect memories of it.
I have two theories.
I hate Rob. So perhaps my brain remembers him swearing up a storm, as part of my negative mental image of him. But this doesn’t follow. A lot of my favorite fictional characters swear a ton. Glengarry Glen Ross is one of my favorite movies. Deadwood and The Wire are among my favorite TV shows. Swearing is not something I associate with characters I dislike. I probably negatively alter my memory of Rob in other ways, but I don’t think his vocabulary is one of them.
He doesn’t even have a subscription, he stole it from a newsstand.
Alternately, I think that I just watch a lot of things with a lot of obscenities in them, and that my mind translates anger into dirty words. Which I guess is their purpose in the first place. But, too many just get repetitive. It is better that Rob uses phrases like “Supertramp fan” with venom in his voice than just saying Fuck again.
So, fuck all this, have a good fucking night.