There really isn’t any more convincing public speaker than Nicolas Cage, depending on whom you ask, either the reviled genius or the inspired fool of the acting world. Part of it can be explained, since his speech patterns are so thrillingly erratic, no one would have imagined he would strike like a drunken boxer with the emphasis on syllables.
Yet part of it sounds more magical, owing to the shamanic magnetism that makes his potboilers of straight-to-video action so curiously convincing. He casts a spell on even the most banal words, and can turn an obscene aria into a four-letter scream screaming at the stars.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better host than Cage if you want to make a miniseries about the complex phenomenon of swear words, both their venerable academic past and their forbidden juvenile allure. Will Nicolas Cage’s Superman actually be able to travel in The Flash? He brings more seriousness to the proceedings than could have been hoped for by this broad, lightweight project. The six 20-minute episodes, which are otherwise read as unessential and uneven, are enriched by his rare appearances, often confined to intros or outros and sometimes used for playful narration from a plush living room set. Such exegesis on the roots and changing meanings of the naughtiest words of the English language can be humorous and edifying, but only in fits and beginnings that are too sparse for such a compact running time.
Each episode takes a look at a number of swear words, but the slightly irreverent tone prohibits racial slurs or other profanity from being included. Instead, the attention is on the plain and immediate enjoyment of foulmouthery: “fuck,” cathartic cries, “shit” utterances with a devilish smile, hundreds of genital euphemisms that are innovative.
The few, not really humorous animated skits explaining the different etymologies go down much smoother with any comprehension of the humor inherent in swearing.
Lacking that, in their blending of stiff-lipped antiquity with contemporary smut, these interludes seem more like trimmed segments from Intoxicated History, not even as clever. Typical of jokes that end with the writer getting a mouthful of soap, the average joke level hits schoolyard standards. The laughs are best left to the professionals. The creators and talent department of Netflix have rounded up a who’s who of the most salacious comics writing for commentary and personal opinions today.
Celebrity pottymouths such as Sarah Silverman and Nikki Glaser rave about the versatility and enthusiasm of a well-used C-word, while Joel Kim Booster and Patti Harrison pop up to expose viewers to the re-appropriation of offensive hate speech by the gay and trans community. (Watching Harrison attempt to maintain a diplomatic professionalism when describing her disapproval of the Pussy Hat movement’s gender essentialist liberalism is among the most delicious moments of the show.) Many viewers who do not know that many women and gay men have effectively disempowered “bitch” by using it to refer to each other will be shocked and have taken the first step on a long overdue journey There’s plenty of time for some observations on the ridiculous and subjective rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America (with not one but two examples of what the Hays Code is), the Fuck Tha Police powder keg provocation, and Dick Swett’s unlikely congressional bid.
“Sheeeeeit!”Sheeeeeit! The general atmosphere of casual informality makes any research method seem boring and pointless, as the effectiveness of curses for pain relief is dubiously “testing” in an overlong series. And yet the simple weight to anchor a miniseries is missing in this premise, leaving the impression of a compilation of long YouTube videos instead.
In keeping with Netflix’s reputation as a place where something capable of maintaining human attention spans longer than two minutes gets the green light, its presence seems driven by nothing more than its ability to draw clicks. The saving grace that dispels the atmosphere of disposability is Cage, whose sheer scale de