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Not Giving A S*** About Swearing in PG13 Movies

After Guardians of the Galaxy came out this summer, there was a bit of fuss over how many swear words appeared in the film. There were more swear words in the movie than in any Marvel movie preceding it, and in protest some fans started a campaign on Instagram and Twitter with the hash tag #keepmarvelclean.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but if I were being chased all over outer space by Ronan the Accuser and Yondu Udonta, I probably wouldn’t be using the cleanest of language either.

Additionally, Guardians of the Galaxy is rated PG13, which, for me, means that some obscenities are to be expected. Whether people like it or not, swearing is a part of everyday life, especially for teenagers. We use dirty words to varying degrees, but many of us use them-given enough provocation. So why shouldn’t they be in movies aimed at teenage audiences? After all, the word “stupid” is far from the worst word in our arsenal by the age of 13.

Think back to some of the older movies you’ve watched. Back to the Future was rated PG and four-letter words and racial slurs abounded. In fact, there was probably more cursing in Back to the Future than in Guardians of the Galaxy. And it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Now think about TV shows. People in scripted and unscripted shows alike frequently drop the d-word if not the f-bomb. Most of these shows are rated TV14, which isn’t very different from PG13, and no one says anything.

Some people argue that using bad language in the movies is poor writing, and as a writer, I have to admit that it is pretty easy to avoid using swear words. That said, there are some cases where a well-placed swear word can give a scene more impact.

Foul language is everywhere in pop culture, whether it is bleeped out or implied or outright said. So why should we care that Marvel is using more swear words in its movies? Because Marvel is supposed to be a kid-friendly franchise? The PG13 label should be warning enough for parents who are concerned about what their kids may hear.

Do we care because movies that take place in an alternate universe tease us with the idea that such an unreal universe is better? If this is the case, the problem is not with swear words in the movie, but rather with our society. If we see a better universe and think that the lack of swear words is something that makes it superior to our own, then shouldn’t we focus on toning down our use of swear words in reality?

I have never felt strongly one way or the other when it comes to swear words in the movies. They don’t bother me when they are included, and I don’t miss them when they are not. But I do think it is silly to be upset by them when a PG13 warns of their existence.

And let’s be honest. By the age of 13, the movies can’t teach us many words that we don’t already know.

Written by Sarah Fornshell’15




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