‘History of Swear Words’ is a Fun Documentary for When You Don’t Give a F***

My favorite part about writing is coming across interesting words. I love to analyze their origins and try to find a way to sneak it into sentences any chance I get so that I may feel fancy. After all, language is complex and beautiful in many ways. But like many creative thinkers, I struggle with one important issue. Just how many cuss words is “too many” cuss words? Netflix’s History of Swear Words, tackles one of my favorite subjects in a fun filled documentary series. They cover the most used swear words, and provide facts, historical and present context for how these words is used.

Some cusses are universal with interchangeable meanings (like f*ck, a personal top three). Others have weird histories and complex ways to use them. What I loved most about this documentary series is that it gives you that early 2000s “your teacher rolled a television into the classroom, so you know it’s about to be lit” feeling. It’s fun, easy to take in, and oddly nostalgic. If you’re looking for a quick laugh, with a load of fun facts filled with expletives, History of Swear Words is your documentary.

Local Sailors Swearing in your Living Room

via SF Chronicle Datebook

Artists, non-creative beings alike love the tantalizing feeling of a cuss-word rolling off the tongue. It’s fun, and allows us to express visceral emotions in ways that normal words can’t. History of Swear Words introduces experts who study language and the history of swear words and simplifies it for local audiences. For the record, I love documentaries. Especially when they’re explorative, informative, and feels entwined with drama and audacity. But overall, the stereotype of documentaries tends to have a bad rep. History of Swear Words is the kind of programming that makes us feel at ease.

Another aspect of this documentary is that it covers the transition of how words become swear words. I believe it is important to discuss the shifts in our language and who or what dictates a word as inappropriate. The series not only talks about the shifts in language from its derivatives but also covers the expansiveness of words. How words become slurs and how some words are reclaimed and used as compliments. Though each episode is quick and light, it can influence audiences to do more personal research into the uses of these words.

A Classic Gentleman for Our Classy Documentary

HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS Nicolas Cage as himself in HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS. Cr. Adam Rose / Netflix

At first, I was skeptical about Nicolas Cage being the host. I knew there was always a humorous aura about Nicolas Cage, and this project should not have come as a surprise to me. Because within the first 10 minutes of episode one I thought to myself, yeah, they knew what they were doing. Nicolas Cage, the research commentators, and comedians did a good job setting the tone and allowing it to serve as light commentary and informative. But though the comedians managed to make it fun and light, at times some jokes can fall flat and leave a pretty “eh” feeling. Granted, not every joke will hit, due to the classic rule of statistics.

If you’re looking for a documentary that will go into deep dives about linguistics and how curse words shape how we communicate on various levels beyond the surface, this is not the place. This rather serves as an introductory measure for what you might want to look into on your own. The conversations about who is allowed to say certain phrases and who is not feels very nuanced and light, they don’t go into deep conversations about it, it’s just a glazed reminder for a couple of minutes.

Sit Down, Relax, and Enjoy the F***ing Show

via Chicago Sun-Times.com

As a budding documentary fan, I believe this is a classic series one could play in the background while doing a simple task or chores. It doesn’t take an immense amount of energy to get into. Nor is this the (sometimes) anxiety inducing investigative documentary we know. They did a great job reeling in audiences and gauging great facts about the swear words they covered. They produced a moderately diverse cast with an array of experts covering its uses in comedy, historical contexts, and everyday life. History of Swear Words is not only a quick, fun binge, it’s also really fun to swear-a-long.

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