The King’s F Word

I had a few additional thoughts regarding The King’s Speech, apart from my actual review of the film. If you haven’t heard (and apparently a lot of people didn’t), the Weinstein company released a PG-13 cut of last year’s Best Picture. The original film was rated R in the U.S. because of a pair of scenes where Prince Albert/King George uses streams of profanity as an exercise to conquer his stammer. The PG-13 version excises those naughty words.

There are two reasons why the very existence of this cut is a joke.

  1. The string of f-bombs is absolutely integral to the logic and flow of these scenes. Not having seen the castrated version of the film, I don’t know how the editing was accomplished, whether they cut them out or put an audible fig leaf over them, but I can’t imagine that it looks or sounds good.
  2. This was done to pander to that minority that is apparently so delicate that hearing a single utterance of this word will utterly shatter their moral fiber and lead to them shooting heroin in church, fornicating with goats, or listening to public radio.

Of course, they will say that The King’s Speech is an inspiring, uplifting film (which it is) and their children should be able to see it without being exposed to such language. I agree with that entire sentiment, except for the last part in italics.

Whether or not your children hear the F word has no bearing on your success or failure as a parent. If they live in the English-speaking parts of the world, they will eventually hear someone say it. Believe it or not, some people who have heard the F word as a kid still believe in Jesus and vote Republican.

Your responsibility as a parent is not to shield their tender ears from every utterance of this particular Anglo-Saxon expression. That is a fruitless and futile task. What you probably want to impress on their impressionable little minds is that this word is not suitable for church, the dinner table, job interviews, meeting your girlfriend’s parents, or if the Queen comes to tea (unless she uses it first).

Oddly enough, the Weinsteins got the idea because in the United Kingdom the original film was certified for ages 12 and over and proved to be very successful among people between 13 and 17. Apparently, the Brits didn’t think that their teenagers were going to riot or burn down Parliament after seeing this movie with its naughty language intact. Frankly, I think a PG-13 rating would have been perfectly appropriate for the original cut here in the states, because of the context of the language. The MPAA in its infinite lack of wisdom merely counted the F-bombs and slapped the film with an R.

Fortunately, the unmolested version is the one available on home video. Hopefully this will remain the case. We couldn’t stop them from releasing this lobotomized cut of a great picture, but at least we can just not see it. I don’t bother myself with things that have no reason to exist.

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