We've Got Hollywood Covered

How Hollywood’s ‘F-Bombs’ Are Impacting Overseas Markets

When I hear cute little Japanese or Taiwanese kids saying ”f– you“ to each other as a greeting call, I wonder just what Hollywood’s gift to the outside world really has been

OK, it's one thing to swear in English in America — and Hollywood movies are full of F-bombs, from "Crazy Stupid Love" to "Larry Crowne."

And while PG-13 movies are officially allowed one non-sexual F-word per script, screenwriters and marketing people are making increased use of that allotment as producers find new ways to beat around the bush, so to speak.

Glenn Whipp, an Associated Press entertainment writer with a great aptonym, too, likes to whip out his facts now and then and hit readers over the read with the new rules surrounding those (bleeping) expletives that are becoming more and more prevalent in American movies.

What about those rampaging robots in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon?" Do you catch their trash talk? Ouch.

I say ouch because as an American living in Asia for the past 20 years, I come up against the F-word every day and it's not a pretty picture overseas. I just want Hollywood producers and screenwriters to know what they are doing to the rest of the world, outside the borders of the Lower 48 and Alaska.

When I first came to Japan in 1991, I was greeted on the streets by little children holding up their middle fingers at me and shouting "F— you! F— you!" I had to do a few double-takes to figure out what was going on, but finally I learned from the kids and my Japanese friends in Tokyo that this was just the children's way of saying "Hello, nice to meet you" to a visiting American.

I swear I am telling the truth. All over Asia, from Tokyo to Taipei, young kids think "f— you" is a cool way to say hello to Americans they meet on the streets. The middle finger salute just add to their mirth and guffaws.

But they mean no harm by this way of greeting Westeners. They learned the words from Hollywood movies, and without a real grasp of English,they think it must be a
cool word. Therefore the F-bomb has become part of Asians vocabulary now over the past 30 years. But they use it in a friendly, warm way.It does not mean "f— you". It means "F— you, nice to meet you!"

And the middle finger salute, they learned from their TV shows in Tokyo and Osaka, means "welcome to my home."

So see! This is what Hollywood is doing to the rest of the world. I just thought I'd let you know.

I also want to let Joan Graves, head of the Motion Picture Association of America's Classification and Rating Administration, know, too.

See, Joan? Hollywood movies are polluting the rest of the world with America's notion of a good (bleeping) F-bomb. But it does not translate very well overseas and it can lead to problems. Not that Holllywood much cares about how it impacts the rest of the world, as long its overseas market send back the cash.

It's a (bleeping) crass world, I tell you, and I blame Hollywood!

As Glenn Whipp notes, using the F-word outside of the R-rated world isn't a new thing.

"In fact, prior to the adoption of the PG-13 rating in 1984, the F-word would periodically pop up in PG movies," he notes. "Even after the creation of the PG-13 rating, movies like "Big" and "Beetlejuice" snuck in the F-word and still secured a PG rating."

And I also want to have a chat with Dan Fogelman. Yes, you Dan! Dan's the guy who let a couple of F-words creep into "Crazy Stupid Love."

As for "The Social Network" and "The Tourist," well, PG-13 movies often have more than one F-word. I want to know: "How the (bleep) does that happen?"

Well, as a kind of guide for perplexed here in 2011, officially, the MPAA's Classification and Ratings Administration's guidelines state:'

"A motion picture's single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context."

But the MPAA's guidelines also say that if two-thirds of the ratings board members believe that multiple F-words are used in a legitimate "context or manner" or are "inconspicuous," then the movie could still be rated PG-13.

So add "The Adjustment Bureau," ''Iron Man 2" and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" to recent films that have dropped more than one F-bomb and still secured PG-13 ratings.

Look, I love Hollywood movies as much as the next bloke, and I have been dropping F-bombs all my life (ever since my mother washed my mouth out with soap long ago for calling my brother a (bleeping) you know what).

But what I object to, and want to let Americans know loud and clear, is that outside the gutter context of North America, "f— you" has taken on a different kind of meaning, and when I hear cute little Japanese or Taiwanese kids saying "f– you" to each other as a greeting call, I wonder just what Hollywood's gift to the outside world really has been.

Perhaps in an age where the faux children's book "Go the (Bleep) To Sleep" tops the best-seller list and Cee-Lo Green's song "(Bleep) You" becomes celebrated as a kiss-off anthem, there's just no avoiding the word, as Glenn Whipp writes.

But on the other hand, maybe America should rethink how it is remaking the world, and how these F-bombs overseas are not a pretty picture of America at all. Is this what we want the rest of the world to think of the USA? That we invented the F-bomb?


Dan Bloom is a freelance writer based in Asia since 1991. During a five-year stint in Tokyo, he covered the triumphs (and occasional failures) of Hollywood movies in Japan and interviewed American actors passing through Tokyo on film promotion tours, including Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Kevin Costner.