Film | Leonardo Dicaprio

The Departed: Leonardo and Scorcese's Cinematic Language


Leonard Dicaprio bulks up in The Departed...

I haven't seen the lastest Scorcese flick yet but I've seen lots of great reviews. Anyway, received this in my email the other day.

A reader writes in:

"I saw 'The Departed' this weekend and was surprised to see that Scorcese uses the words 'nigger', 'fucking homos', 'fucking queers' and 'two-faced faggot' at face value.

The movie is arbitrarily set in Boston because Scorcese cannot do one more movie about the NY Mafia, so this is set in some fantasy world of Irish-American organized crime. The slurs are used unneccessarily by the three main characters, including Leonardo, who plays the hero of the movie.

Considering that this is not one of Scorcese's period pieces, and that the entire plot is way outside the realm of plausibilty, it seems strange to inlcude these words when the movie is so plainly unrealistic (It gets downright satirical by the end). It is not as though Scorcese was making a thoughtful film about cultural differences, although he hints that the movie will be about that during the beginning. Anyway, nobody on the internet or the in the press has said anything. I think someone should say something."

Since I haven't yet seen the film, I can't really comment, but if anyone out there who has would like to offer some insight, please feel free to do so in the comments...

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  1. from what i can remember, it's matt damon's character who uses the words 'faggot' and 'queers' in the movie, mostly. there is some debate (or at least there was between me and my friends) as to whether or not matt damon's character is actually gay, and his uber masculine front is just that; a front for his internalized homophobia. i think its also important to note that these words, including 'nigger', however offensive they are are definitely used in daily conversation by men like these in a city like this. this isn't a movie about highly educated, enlightened individuals. in fact, its not even a movie about people who give a shit what someone else thinks. its a movie about a corrupt police force in boston, and i think the language accurately reflects this.

    Posted by: david | Oct 12, 2006 2:51:56 PM

  2. Oh, please! Most of the references sited here are spouted by a murderous rat in the police department. This is less than a tempest in a teapot. Put it this way, anyone who writes the line - "fantasy world of Irish-American organized crime" (in Boston?) is a self-professed idiot unworthy or recognition. What a moron. Worry about what you don't know rather than the moral grounding of make believe bad guys.

    Posted by: Martin Johns | Oct 12, 2006 2:54:23 PM

  3. Have I mentioned how deeply offended I was by the greasiness of all the actors' hair in Gangs of New York?

    I would have preferred a modern, thoughtful meditation on shine and body.

    Posted by: 24play | Oct 12, 2006 3:06:21 PM

  4. I would say that the movie is a standard popular depiction of South Boston, and the dialogue suited the characters and the drama. It didn't offend me; I loved the movie. If that language gets you wound up, I would recommend avoiding most of Scorscese's movies.

    Posted by: dan | Oct 12, 2006 3:08:11 PM

  5. Yeah, that guy is a fucking idiot.

    "Scorsese uses the words..."

    What the hell? Scorsese is not in the movie. The dialogue is spoken by his characters, not him. The characters are supposed to be despicable.

    This was a dumb, pointless post.

    Posted by: chrisb | Oct 12, 2006 3:11:07 PM

  6. OH BROTHER!!! This dude is such an idiot. Yes that language is used in the film. Yes, it is used by what could be termed the "bad guy" in the movie, along with other characters, all of whom show some level of overall thick-headed, moronic, cop brovado. The point is, they are just characters in a movie that probably reflect on some level the reality of what certain people are like that live a certain kind of life. The guy who has an issue with this is, again, probably just a big fag.

    Posted by: JR | Oct 12, 2006 3:11:53 PM

  7. This is such a non-issue for me. As long as the offensive words are uttered in the context of a scene and in the character of a character, I don't see the problem.

    It really pisses me off when I watch a movie on Logo where a gay bashing scene is portrayed and all I hear is, "You BEEP BEEP. I'm gonna beat the BEEP outa your BEEP BEEP BEEP!" I mean, give me a BEEPin break. We are adults here and beeping out those words in a scene where they are critical to conveying the intensity of hate and violence is ridiculous.

    My god, I hear "fag", "fudge packer", "pussy" and a thousand more insults on my local WB NETWORK station every time they air an episode of Southpark. Unfortunately, you can hear the words “queer”, “fag”, “faggot” and any number of gay slurs used indiscriminately on cable AND network television any day of the week but somehow we need to be protected from the word "faggot" used in the context of a gay bashing scene in a movie on Logo. I just don’t get it.

    Strangely enough, they DO bleep the word “n*gger” on Southpark and almost every other show on television, even if it is in the context of a scene showing racists and/or racism.

    I guess using offensive gay slurs is still socially acceptable whereas racial slurs, thankfully, have become unacceptable.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 12, 2006 3:17:30 PM

  8. I haven't seen the movie and don't have a problem with it. I do, however have a problem with RC's idiotic statement, "The guy who has an issue with this is, again, probably just a big fag." You, RC sound like a homophobic moron.

    Posted by: Daniel | Oct 12, 2006 3:20:18 PM

  9. Sorry, I mean, you JR sound like a homophobic moron.

    Posted by: Daniel | Oct 12, 2006 3:22:47 PM

  10. Enough about this, let's talk about Reichen!

    Posted by: Dan B | Oct 12, 2006 3:26:08 PM

  11. This is a little like when conservative complain about sex and gays in movies.

    Posted by: Anon | Oct 12, 2006 3:27:42 PM

  12. Hey Daniel, I'm thinking maybe you're a big fag. Yeah? What's you're isssue? What, so you've never used the word fag before? Don't be a hipocrit.

    Posted by: JR | Oct 12, 2006 3:33:41 PM

  13. Since the last time I saw a Martin Scorcese film about gangsters and killings and maimings and killings and bloodlettings and bashings was never, I don't suppose I will ever this either. I don't get it. Why go to see people get splattered? I guess I'm just a big sissy-fag!

    Posted by: Bill | Oct 12, 2006 3:39:49 PM

  14. I'm black, and seriously.. N*gger?

    Someone is defending the use of this word?

    Really.. The topic has been covered and truly, seriously.... someone is trying to say when it’s ok to use it in popular media?

    I know it’s a movie and there’s a story that has to be told... but was it necc?

    Were there no alternatives?

    Casually tossing a word like that around kinda reinforces and idea shared by a lot of African Americans, "They still call you a nigga when you ain't around".

    Lets try not to perpetuate the craziness.

    Posted by: Dexstarg | Oct 12, 2006 3:39:57 PM

  15. I was at the premiere two weeks ago. Great flick. If you liked Good Fellas, you really like this one. Big difference is that it's set in Boston.

    BTW. Leonardo, Matt D. and Donnie W. are much better looking in person than they are in movies. Not such a bad thing, given that they aren't bad to look at in the movies.

    Posted by: Steven | Oct 12, 2006 3:42:47 PM

  16. Many negative gay comments made throughout the movie. While realizing it's only a movie, it still hard to listen to.

    Posted by: Barnie | Oct 12, 2006 3:44:09 PM

  17. Andy, it's Scorsese with and s, not scorcese.

    Posted by: Tony | Oct 12, 2006 3:46:19 PM

  18. If the "anti-gay comments" are hard to listen to, you don't have to watch the film.

    What a novel idea!

    Posted by: Frank L | Oct 12, 2006 3:50:26 PM

  19. I have to agree that the post is idiotic, and takes political sensitivity to a ridiculous extreme. I don't know what the reader who posted this based his conclusion that the only reason that Scorcese placed his movie in South Boston is because "he cannot do one more movie about the NY Mafia," but that is not only false but absurd. Interviews with Mr. Scorcese reveal that the choice of South Boston was deliberate, and the use of actors from Boston (Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg) is a testament to Mr. Scorcese's dedication to authenticity. I also don't know what makes the poster believe that Irish-American organized crime is "fantasy." Most important, though, is the fact that South Boston is notorious for how racist, ethnocentrist, homophobic and bigoted many of the residents are. The kind of speech that the poster complains about is just everyday language for certain parts of South Boston, and demonstrates the authenticity of the film. Rather than the film being located in a "fantasy world," it is the poster who is living in an alternative reality.

    Posted by: Ajax | Oct 12, 2006 3:53:09 PM

  20. Dear dexstarg.

    One way to disarm people who use the n word is to embrace it. Say, "yes, you bet I am! And I wouldn't have it any other way! Blacker beats cracker!"

    That's how I feel about the word faggot. "Hell yeah, I'm a faggot, and you ain't got nothing I want!"

    Posted by: Rich | Oct 12, 2006 3:57:42 PM

  21. dumb post. PC has gotten so out of hand -- this is like the people who want to ban smoking in films.

    Posted by: over PC'd | Oct 12, 2006 4:19:09 PM

  22. Can you fuckin' imagine what kind of shitty obscene cocksucking epithets the goddam fuckin' screenplay woulda fuckin' had in it if motherfucking Mamet had fucking written it?

    Posted by: basis4insanity | Oct 12, 2006 4:19:54 PM

  23. Art is supposed to be honest, and sometimes -- in it's honesty -- cause discomfort to the viewer.

    Posted by: madmonkey | Oct 12, 2006 4:30:00 PM

  24. I grew up in South Boston. I always find Mark Walberg's accent authentic, but when Matt Damon does the accent, it sounds so fake. I know he is from Massachusetts, but he was probably raised to speak "Standard" English which explains how fake his accent sounds.

    Posted by: Bryce | Oct 12, 2006 4:47:56 PM

  25. More important -- it's not that great a movie. I mean, it's fine -- perfectly entertaining -- sort of like a well-filmed tv cop show (with a really high-priced cast.) But it certainly isn't Scorsese's "return to greatness" as many critics have suggested. It doesn't BEGIN to compare to Goodfellas or Raging Bull or Casino. I've been a little mystified at the huge amount of praise this is getting. I can't understand whether the critics (a) just feel bad that Scorsese hasn't won an Oscar (though, really, who cares?) and are pumping this up or (b) are blinded by the enormous number of movie stars he's packed in the film.

    As to the offensive language -- yeah -- it's completely gratuitous (mostly an attempt to make these characters sound more "street" than they appear) and I cringed when I heard it. I agree that sometimes it can be okay to use language that is offensive in context but here it just sounds wrong -- not because people in Boston don't say these words, but because it doesn't really have its desired effect.

    Posted by: Buster | Oct 12, 2006 4:58:54 PM

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