The new Netflix project looks extremely attractive in words – Nicolas Cage acts as the host of an educational and entertainment mini-series about the origin of the main swear words of the English language. In addition to him, who frames every twenty-minute episode with funny monologues, actors and stand – up artists-from Nick Offerman and Sarah Silverman to London Hughes (the TV series “Trash”) – fool around and make jokes on the screen») and Nikki Glaser (“Pretty Woman on the whole Head”). Not without experts-linguists, although they are slightly less than we would like.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in the “History of Swear Words” is an attempt to understand how this or that word changed its original meaning, became taboo. For example, “shit” has become a curse word due to the introduction of private closets and the rejection of public coping, which has its roots in ancient Rome. And “bitch” ceased to denote a female dog from the second half of the 15th century – when it began to be applied to dissolute women, only to change its meaning again a few centuries later. Ernest Hemingway used this word to describe women in general and his mother in particular exclusively in a laudatory way, admiring their inner strength and domineering character.
Apparently, so that the audience does not get bored, the entire educational program director Christopher D’ilaya (producer of the recently released horror “Happy Death Day”) accompanies the supposedly witty remarks of the guests of the series, who also do not forget to note with all due seriousness the toxicity or inadmissibility of certain expressions. At some point, the actor from the TV series “Wiretap” Wendell Pierce appears in the frame, who can stretch the word shit for an unimaginably long time, for which Spike Lee himself fell in love. In addition, an interesting hypothesis is given – some swear words have entered the everyday speech of modern Americans thanks to the efforts of black musicians. For example, the song ‘Fuck the Police’ by the rap collective N. W. A. or the rather explicit, pornographic lyrics of Lucille Bogan, a blues singer of the 20s and 30s of the last century.
Add here the indispensable political correctness and get a movie catalog of non-alcoholic beer. This harmless and sometimes embarrassing product, intended more for fans of modern stand-up than for novice linguists, makes you think about the transformations not of language, but of modern society and its attitude to the most harmless things. One small joy here is still there – the host Nicolas Cage, though without switching to his trademark acting overlap. When he argues that the word nick sounds no worse than dick, it looks quite convincing and makes you briefly distract from the sad picture of the world, where everyone lives in fear of dickpicks and verbal abuse.
The series “History of Swear Words” is available on Netflix.