America, Fuck Yeah!

Manners, shock value, traditional values and freedom of speech all collide in Fuck: A Fuckumentary

"I'd call people and say this is what I'm doing, this is a film about this word and freedom of speech and broadcast decency, that we'd kind of put this word really at the center of the debate over free speech. I found that as soon as they heard the word fuck, people had an opinion about it. Four simple letters in one specific order seems to be the tipping point. People on all sides of the issue have opinions about it."

No one was deceived into appearing in the picture, he maintains, and he assured all participants, even those whose views clashed with his, that any editing would preserve the gist of their arguments.

"Pat Boone was one of the first people to sign up to do the film. You know what you're getting with Pat Boone. . . . I'm the first to say that my own views on the subject are a little bit to the left, but I made a promise to everyone that their points would get across. . . . Every quote I put in there, that's what they were."

That's especially true of the words mumbled by the good doctor, Hunter S. Thompson, to whom the film is dedicated.

"I'd have to ask Anita, his widow, but as far as I know this was his last filmed interview," Anderson says. "We filmed it five or six weeks before he died. We spent two days at his compound in Colorado. He'd sleep during the day and get up in the evening like it was supposed to be 6 in the morning to us.

"The first night, he was not feeling well. But the second he went from 9:30 p.m. to 4 in the morning, nonstop. It was really a memorable experience. Just talking on the phone with him before we interviewed him was a trip. He kind of liked the idea of the project and kind of took to us. After a couple of drinks, he just settled right into it."

Anderson says Thompson got the dedication not just because he passed so soon after the film wrapped, but because the gonzo journalist was "so inspiring. This film was kind of done in the same spirit of what he did."

*   *   *

Anderson plans to follow Fuck with a return to feature filmmaking. He has a project tentatively titled Vlad the Impaler ("Imagine if the Coen Brothers did a vampire movie") that's generated some sniffs from studios. Unfortunately, all his time these days is going to Fuck.

"It's kind of hard getting prepared for the next film while promoting this film," he says. "Once the hard work is over, the hard work starts. I guess I can't complain. I actually enjoy what I'm doing, and I hope that one of these days I'll even make a little money."

He's also got another little Fuck project going on the side in light of the festival screenings and a planned fall theatrical release by just-inked distributor THINKFilm, which is obviously banking on Fuck following the surprise success of last year's likewise-profane The Aristocrats. Team Fuck is currently tracking how the film gets mentioned on front pages and magazine covers and in film programs. More precisely, they're logging whether it's referred to as Fuck, F*ck, F**k, F*** or—swear to God, this has already happened—****.

"The only major newspaper to use the full name uncensored, and I say major because of its size, was in Victoria, British Columbia," says Anderson, who figures his informal survey results may appear as part of the theatrical release or in future DVD packaging.

Noted in the current version's end credits is this tidbit: Fuck: A Fuckumentaryincludes 630 uttered fucks (or fuck variations). But that needs to be appended, Anderson says, because on further review it was discovered that including the number of times the word fuck is seen on screen in written form or heard in songs, the film's total number of fuck references exceeds 800.

The frank use of fuck has liberated festival audiences, he claims.

"The very fact that people see it allows them to talk about it," Anderson says. "At the director Q&As, people just love to say it."

Though the film has been in the can for months, everything fuck-related continues to cross his desk.

"For the past year and a half, I have become the conduit for all things fuck," he says. "Every friend or business associate passes along a fuck joke or a new fuck-combination word. I'm getting one in my e-mail box right now. It's proven to be a pretty popular word.

"One thing fuck has going for it is it's funny. At our screenings, we get raucous laughter. We set out to make it entertaining. We didn't want some dark polemic about free speech. But in the end, we hope it forces people to think about when it should be used on the radio, when it should be on TV. I'm more conservative than some in that I think there should be limits. It's something you can say with friends at a bar, but not in church, not at your parents'."

No, that'd just be fucking rude.


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