On January 2, a Variety piece, citing Wikipedia, declared that Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street used the F-word 506 times, setting a new record. This report was quickly picked up by news outlets around the world. I love Wikpedia and a good headline, but this authorless claim seemed deserving of fact-checking. And I am a masochist. (See here and here.) So, in the service of making sure the historical record is accurate, I decided to watch the film (two and a half times) and carefully count not only the number of F-words, but, to get a fuller picture of the film’s verbal depravity, every single other bad word and variation used over the course of the film’s three-hour running time. (See a picture of my notes, below.) It was, I thought, a wonderful idea.
Then, my research done and sent to our art department to graph, those fucking fucks over at Slate had to publish a very similar piece last evening. Good job, Slate! But that doesn’t mean that this new area of exploration can’t keep moving forward: I can be the Edison to Slate’s Ben Franklin in advancing the study of counting depraved stockbrokers yelling “fuck.” While they kept their research to the F-word family (and, for the record, while both of us disagreed with Wikipedia, we came up with different numbers: Slate’s 544 to my 569), I also noted every shit, dick, cock, and so on — delivered by all characters, be they main, supporting, or even lost in a crowd. (After Jonah Hill’s Donnie swallows a junior trader’s goldfish, for example, you hear unspecified co-workers yell, “Get the fuck out of here! Fuck off, Mr. Rogers! Fuck you, bow tie! A real fucking idiot!”)
We broke down the data into four graphical treatments — a list of every curse word and how many times it was said, a chart showing just the F-words, a chart showing all of the curse words listed in relation to each other, and then a breakout of which characters are the most profane. Enjoy. (And note: We are aware the comments section, run by an outside vendor, does not allow profanity to be used. This does not make us hypocrites. It makes computers hypocrites.)