The Daily Grunt Part 2

 

A SURVEY OF BAD LANGUAGE IN FILMS ON THE FIVE TERRESTRIAL TELEVISION CHANNELS From July to December 2003

 

The interest in mediawatch-uk's shocking report 'The Daily Grunt', published in July 2003, was so overwhelming that we are encouraged to publish this companion report 'The Daily Grunt Part 2' so providing an analysis for the year 2003 as a whole. The first report analysed bad language in 60 films shown on the five terrestrial TV channels from January to June 2003. This new report analyses 86 films shown on the same TV channels from July to December 2003.

 

It is not necessary to reproduce again the relevant extracts from the Independent Television Commission's Programme Code, the Broadcasting Standards Commission's Code of Guidance or the BBC's Producers' Guidelines. However, we do repeat our conclusion that little notice is taken of them or of the widespread and continuing public offence caused by the inclusion of so much bad language in so many programmes. It is the hope of mediawatch-uk that the Standards Code envisaged by the Communications Act 2003, to be drawn up by the Office of Communications, will prove to be a more effective instrument for stopping gratuitous offensive language in television and radio programming.

 

Findings

 

I

n this report a total of 86 films shown on the five terrestrial channels from July to December 2003 are analysed for bad language. 28 were shown on BBC1, 8 on BBC2, 9 on ITV1, 10 on Channel 4 and 31 on five.

 

With the exception of 'Gone in Sixty Seconds' on ITV1, all of the films have been shown previously and some up to eight times in ten years. This again indicates that the Code and Guidelines are ignored and that there is a degree of intransigence that is inappropriate for broadcasting organisations claiming a 'public service' remit.

We acknowledge that this is only a small proportion of the total of 1484 films shown in the period and with the exception of 'Class Action', all were shown at or later that 9.00pm.

 

In one film, 'The Blair Witch Project', shown by Channel 4 on 29 October, the volume and speed of the bad language was such that it defied attempts to record it!

 

We have focused, firstly, on two words 'S***' and 'F***', and their derivatives, because these are by far the most common swear words used in the films in this survey. Secondly, we have focused on Holy Names Jesus and/or Christ because the broadcasting Codes and Guidelines specifically mention them and the offence caused by their use as expletives.

 

FILM TITLE

CHANNEL

DATE

TIME

'S***'

'F***'

'Jesus' /

'Christ'

Se7en

BBC1

10.07.03

9.00pm

14

 

6

First Blood

BBC1

19.07.03

10.25pm

8

3

9

Listen

BBC1

19.07.03

11.55pm

2

3

4

The Investigation

BBC1

31.07.03

12.05am

3

 

1

Raising Arizona

BBC1

5.08.03

11.15pm

12

1

1

Jailbreakers

BBC1

24.08.03

12.50am

11

28

1

Color of Night

BBC1

26.08.03

11.35pm

12

1

11

Red Heat

BBC1

30.08.03

10.30pm

36

9

11

Castaway

BBC1

2.09.03

12.05am

8

3

2

Heat

BBC1

7.09.03

9.00pm

15

 

1

Cliffhanger

BBC1

14.09.03

10.15pm

8

 

5

Death Wish

BBC1

15.09.03

11.05pm

6

5

5

True Confessions

BBC1

17.09.03

11.55pm

5

 

2

The Couch Trip

BBC1

29.09.03

11.25pm

12

 

1

Blow Out

BBC1

27.09.03

11.40pm

7

12

5

Narrow Margin

BBC1

11.10.03

11.25pm

4

2

5

Death Train

BBC1

12.10.03

11.05pm

4

 

 

Falling Down

BBC1

26.10.03

10.55pm

10

 

6

North Dallas Forty

BBC1

7.11.03

1.00am

24

24

18

Three Fugitives

BBC1

9.11.03

11.30pm

5

 

3

Perfect Prey

BBC1

10.11.03

11.35pm

4

5

 

 

FILM TITLE

CHANNEL

DATE

TIME

'S***'

'F***'

'Jesus' /

'Christ'

A Bronx Tale

BBC1

19.11.03

12.00m't

8

48

 

L.A Confidential

BBC1

22.11.03

10.35pmm

8

15

1

The Last Seduction

BBC1

1.12.03

11.15pm

2

20

5

The Bonfire of the Vanities

BBC1

10.12.03

11.15pm

19

12

12

To Protect and Serve

BBC1

11.12.03

12.20am

6

 

4

CopyCat

BBC1

14.12.03

10.15pm

6

 

3

Footloose

BBC1

29.12.03

11.05pm

10

1

1

The Fabulous Baker Boys

BBC2

6.07.03

11.45pm

10

11

11

Exotica

BBC2

26.07.03

1.00am

 

3

 

Coupe De Ville

BBC2

12.07.03

12.15am

9

1

10

2 Days In The Valley

BBC2

15.08.03

11.35pm

16

40

 

The Cars That Ate Paris

BBC2

22.08.03

1.30am

 

 

3

 

The Cotton Club

BBC2

29.08.03

12.15am

10

 

9

The Fugitive

BBC2

3.11.03

1.50pm

10

 

2

The Funeral

BBC2

14.11.03

1.20am

5

29

1

Sleeping With The Enemy

ITV1

30.07.03

12.10am

4

2

1

Bull Durham

ITV1

1.08.03

12.50am

20

25

8

Die Hard

ITV1

6.08.03

9.00pm

21

9

14

The Color of Money

ITV1

23.08.03

11.50pm

11

9

7

Bad Company

ITV1

30.08.03

1.00am

3

9

1

The Krays

ITV1

23.09.03

11.05pm

7

18

3

 

FILM TITLE

CHANNEL

DATE

TIME

'S***'

'F***'

'Jesus' /

'Christ'

Gone In Sixty Seconds

ITV1

24.09.03

9.00pm

13

1

2

Married To The Mob

ITV1

4.10.03

12.00m't

15

 

 

The Glimmer Man

ITV1

31.10.03

12.00m't

9

8

2

Romeo Is Bleeding

C4

12.07.03

2.35am

5

17

 

Fargo

C4

28.07.03

10.40pm

7

55

4

Showgirls

C4

4.08.03

10.00pm

15

41

4

Kalifornia

C4

21.09.03

10.55pm

12

9

4

Risky Business

C4

18.10.03

10.05pm

13

9

2

Jagged Edge

C4

29.10.03

12.20am

7

 

9

The Hitcher

C4

31.10.03

12.45am

3

 

 

The Exorcist

C4

1.11.03

10.00pm

3

7

9

Rain Man

C4

15.11.03

10.05pm

10

 

2

The Grifters

C4

15.11.03

12.20am

1

6

3

Nowhere To Run

five

25.07.03

9.00pm

2

2

 

Other People's Money

five

1.08.03

11.45pm

5

6

 

Quick Change

five

4.08.03

10.30pm

3

6

5

The Getaway

five

8.08.03

 

3

5

1

City Heat

five

20.08.03

10.00pm

 

 

2

Bone Daddy

five

24.08.03

9.00pm

5

11

2

Dead Calm

five

24.08.03

10.15pm

1

 

1

 

FILM TITLE

CHANNEL

DATE

TIME

'S***'

'F***'

'Jesus' /

'Christ'

No Mercy

five

5.09.03

9.00pm

4

 

2

Passenger 57

five

22.09.03

9.00pm

6

4

 

The Running Man

five

26.09.03

9.00pm

2

1

3

In The Line Of Fire

five

29.09.03

9.00pm

13

10

6

Commando

five

2.10.03

9.00pm

7

5

1

A Few Good Men

five

3.10.03

9.00pm

13

10

6

Bad Boys

five

5.10.03

10.05pm

60

75

2

The Silence Of The Lambs

five

8.10.03

10.00pm

5

5

1

Lock Up

five

9.10.03

9.00pm

8

 

1

Unforgiven

five

17.10.03

9.00pm

20

5

16

The Accused

five

22.10.03

10.00pm

7

 

1

Robocop 2

five

29.10.03

10.00pm

13

6

4

The Rookie

five

31.10.03

9.00pm

1

8

 

Tequila Sunrise

five

3.11.03

9.00pm

15

9

6

Predator 2

five

5.11.03

10.00pm

7

14

1

The Presidio

five

9.11.03

9.00pm

22

 

5

Unlawful Entry

five

12.11.03

9.00pm

7

9

7

Class Action

five

13.11.03

8.00pm

2

3

2

Betrayed

five

17.11.03

10.00pm

12

5

3

The Bodyguard

five

26.11.03

9.00pm

3

9

2

Presumed Innocent

five

28.11.03

9.00pm

9

10

8

Mississippi Burning

five

3.12.03

10.00pm

8

7

 

True Love

five

5.12.03

1.30am

14

63

5

Miami Blues

five

12.12.03

9.00pm

10

13

4

 

 

In the 86 films analysed the word 'S***', and its derivatives, occurred 795 times. The word 'F***', and its derivatives, occurred 805 times. Holy Names 'Jesus' and/or 'Christ', used as expletives, occurred 328 times.

 

Derivatives included:

 

S*** HEAD, S***TY, BULL S***, HORSE S***, CHICKEN S***, HOLY S***.

F***ED, F***ER, F***ING, MOTHER F***ER.

 

Other swear words used less frequently as terms of abuse or insult were:

 

ARSE, ARSE HOLE, BASTARD, BUGGER, COCKSUCKER, PRICK, WANKER.

 

In some of the films analysed most of the bad language is used by:

 

Police officers, detectives, women, youths and, sometimes, children.

 

In the film 'A Bronx Tale', shown on BBC1, 19/11/2003, the language included appalling terms of racist abuse ("f***ing nigger", "black mother f***er"). The latter phrase was also included in the film 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' shown also on BBC1, 10/12/2003.

 

Four films, 'Castaway' on BBC1, 2/9/2003, 'Deathwish' on BBC1 15/9/2003, 'The Exorcist' on Channel 4, and 'Unforgiven' on five, 17/10/2003 included the word "C***" or derivatives. 'The Exorcist' also included the appalling line "stick you cock up her arse, you mother f***ing cocksucker" spoken by the child to the priest.

In most films bad language is associated with violent criminal action or in dramatic scenes or moments of high tension but most is used in conversation. Accordingly, most bad language is entirely gratuitous and indicates a limited vocabulary, a very poor grasp of the English language and it sets a very bad example. Very little can be justified honestly on the grounds of authenticity or context. We believe that the volume and nature of the bad language and its constant repetition seriously undermines the considerable effort and resources expended in the whole field of education.

 

Cumulative figures

 

In the 60 films analysed in 'The Daily Grunt' the word 'S***', and its derivatives, occurred 827 times, the word 'F***', and its derivatives, occurred 1429 times and JESUS and/or CHRIST, used as expletives, occurred 221 times.

 

These figures, added to the findings of 'The Daily Grunt Part 2', give a staggering total for the 146 films analysed in both reports of:

 

1622 uses of 'S***' and its derivatives

 

2234 uses of 'F***' and its derivatives

 

549 uses of Jesus and/or Christ used as expletives

 

Overwhelming response

 

Following publication of our report 'The Daily Grunt' ITV teletext conducted a viewers poll, 17/7/2003, asking whether bad language on television was offensive. 2,723 people voted and a massive 96 per cent said 'YES' and only 4 per cent said 'NO'.

 

An editorial comment in the Daily Express, 16/7/2003, said:

 

"Foul language still offends the sensibilities of ordinary people. Movie makers might think they are simply reflecting real life but they are making entertainment intolerable for many. It is time to bring back some movie magic and drop the unnecessary expletives."

 

The Daily Express, The Daily Mail and the Mirror, among others, carried substantive reports and the BBC Local Radio network featured reports and interviews throughout the day of publication.

 

The Daily Mail, 17/7/2003, published a most incisive feature article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who expressed gratitude that:

 

"there are still people who care enough to monitor and complain about the way our national language has been so debased in recent years by the mediawallahs (and) film makers " "None of us is immune", she said, "but too many of us just accept it".

 

She went on:

 

"The corruption of language in public culture is just one aspect of the general coarsening of life which is taking us down into the pits. Television in particular has now reached such depths it is hard to imagine where it can go next It is time, I believe, to take an honest look at all television output, not merely programmes with bad language".

 

The Daily Mail, 21/7/2003, published a letter from a Mr Gordon Channer (not a member of mediawatch-uk) who wrote: "The accusation of totally unnecessary obscenities in films and on TV is absolutely true. And I don't just blame Hollywood or the scriptwriters." Mr Channer went on to disclose that he had written a series of five books about a family with children. He sent them to the BBC hoping the stories would be adapted for television but were rejected because "there was not enough violence or swearing in them for today's audiences".

 

The Broadcasting Standards Commission, in its annual report for 2002, published 18/7/2003, stated that complaints about offensive language rose from 11 per cent to 15 per cent of the total.

 

In November 2003 a former mayor of Worcester, Cllr Bob Bullock, launched a bid to clean up bad language on TV and Radio. He was reported in the Worcester Evening News, 15/11/2003, to be "exasperated" by the proliferation of four-letter words in broadcasting, which he said is having a poor effect on society. He said he was planning to take action by writing to the broadcasting companies.

 

Conclusions

 

mediawatch-uk is aware that bad language occurs in many programmes that are not films, such as '40' screened by Channel 4 in April 2003, and in programmes where it would not be expected to occur or have any context. Many viewers took exception to the obscenities used in 'Return to Jamie's Kitchen' shown by Channel 4 in September 2003, for example. Viewers tuning in to 'Property People', BBC2 7/1/2004, for an insight into the way Estate Agents work, would have been assaulted by a stream of obscenities. 'Shattered' on Channel 4, 7/1/2004, also included "strong language" from the outset.

 

It is evident from the findings of 'The Daily Grunt' and 'The Daily Grunt Part 2' that the use of verbal obscenity, profanity, swearing and coarse language has long ago reached unacceptable proportions that seriously conflict with the Codes and Guidelines. Since the Government has made it clear that it is unwilling to intervene in programme content issues the viewing public has no option but to trust the broadcasters to abide by their own rules. mediawatch-uk believes that that trust continues to be betrayed to the detriment of our culture, educational standards and wider communication skills.

 

mediawatch-uk believes that the way we communicate matters. It is not the role of the film and broadcasting industries to destroy good communication to such an extent that the English language is being seriously undermined.

 

We call upon the Office of Communications (Ofcom) to take immediate steps to give effect to the existing Codes and Guidelines and to accelerate the process of drawing up its required Standards Code. This should provide an effective means by which harmful and offensive bad language in the media can be stopped forthwith.

 

We are aware of steps being taken in the United States to make swearing on mainstream television illegal. Concern and frustration on this issue has been heightened because the Federal Communications Commission recently rejected complaints about the use of the F-word saying it did not violate federal indecency rules. mediawatch-uk will certainly be following the progress of these attempts with interest to see how they might be applied in Britain given that so much obscene and profane language occurs on mainstream television here.

 

Appendix

 

To illustrate the detailed analysis of language in films conducted by mediawatch-uk, we reproduce here, simply as a typical example, our monitoring report for the film 'Die Hard' shown on ITV1 6/8/2003 at 9.00pm. This film, made in 1988, has been shown eight times in the last twelve years.

 

Man to himself: Christ, Jesus, Jesus, Son of a bitch, s***, s***, s***, s***, s***, arse hole, arse hole, turn the f***ing truck round.

Man to another man: Drop it, dick head.

Man to himself: Bet your arse.

Man to a woman: Christ, bull s***.

Man on radio: God damn it.

Man on radio to woman: Come the f*** down here!

Police officer to man: S***.

Man to himself: Oh S***, God damn.

Man to police officer: Oh s***.

Man to himself: where's the f***ing cavalry?

Man to another man: What do these pricks want?, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Oh S***, We don't know s*** pal, Christ.

Man to Man: arse holes, arse holes, arse holes, arse holes.

Man to himself: Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, holy s***, f*** it, Geronimo, arse hole!

Man to another man: Who gives a s*** about glass?, you little arse hole, I just got butt f***ed, You're neither, s*** head, S*** head, Jesus Christ, This arse hole, Go f*** yourself, Hans, Christ, man! Hunt that little s*** down, You catch that bull s***, You ought to be on f***ing TV.

Woman to woman: God, that man looks really pissed.

Man to another man: F***ing, we feel like s*** man, I don't give two s***s, No s***, its my arse, right up the arse, s***.

Man to himself: What the f*** are you doing?

Man to another man: I'll bag this little bastard, Holy Christ.

Woman to herself: Jesus.

Man to another man: Arse hole.

 

 

Click here for The Daily Grunt Part 2 news release

 

Click here for The Daily Grunt

 

Click here for Swearing on TV historical and regulatory perspectives

 

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