I don’t know about most people, but for me the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 seemed to blur into one and whilst Netflix‘s original quasi-documentary, Death to 2020 was on my radar, it’s self-deprecating nature that favoured celebrities engaging in over-exaggerated false personas rather than having an actual discussion of the past year’s events became nothing more than a source of ridicule for me and my present company. History of Swear Words however, saw me put on an episode in excited anticipation and binge the whole season in one sitting, yes, I know, as the kids say, *ahem* what a mood.
Over the course of six episodes, our illustrious host, Nicolas Cage, takes us through the history, etymology, cultural significance and current opinions on six words that you might hear your nan tell your grandad off for saying out loud. Through a familiar episodic pattern the show comes across as very easy viewing, educating you with just enough basic knowledge to keep you entertained before the point of boredom at being forced to learn something. It’ll make immature viewers giggle, it’ll make mature viewers go ‘hmm, that’s interesting’ and quite surprisingly it should make most people empowered. Although we constantly censor these words, there’s clear power and empowerment in their proper usage. One of the words explored in the show isn’t widely thought to be much of an expletive even more, and the point is raised that if it’s acceptable now for a 4 year-old to say this word now, how long before we get to appreciate a 4 year-old say the ‘F’ word and not feel the need to discipline them for it? Ah what a world we may yet live to see.
If any of the six featured words are ones you’d never say aloud this really isn’t the show for you to snuggle up with, if anything it feels like the show’s narrative is encouraging its viewers to use and celebrate these words, if not always for their most predominant uses. Because what are words beyond what we make them? History of Swear Words feels like the perfect way to kick off the year, because whilst it’s looking like 2021 isn’t going to be that much different from 2020, what can be different is how we approach things, and if letting out some colourful language helps get you through the day, then why not embrace that. Of course I’m not advocating that you label everyone you feel disdain or annoyance towards with a hefty ‘ ‘F’ you’ but why not add some flare to conversation and if you must swear at someone, try dropping to your knees, pounding the ground and uttering the immortal line; “Goddamn you! Damn you all to Hell!”
History of Swear Words is currently available to stream on Netflix