Updated Feb 23:
Based on reports from people who say they have counted, it looks like “The Wolf of Wall Street’s” F-bomb record stands. Slate magazine counted roughly 544. A commenter on this article came up with 599. Either way, it’s a record, and based on “Wolf’s” length, not that surprising.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” has reportedly broken a world record for profanity, but the news comes with a dirty little secret.
Variety on Thursday reported that Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed new drama contains 506 instances of the word “f--k” throughout its 180-minute running time. If true, that tally would break the old record of 435 for a nondocumentary film, set by Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam."
The article, credited only to “Variety Staff,” cited Wikipedia as the source of the information. The citation is problematic, as Wikipedia, by its own guidelines, doesn’t allow original research. Information on the site, therefore, is only as accurate as its original sources.
So, did someone actually sit through “Wolf of Wall Street” and count 506 instances of the F-bomb? Good question. Apparently, there's a Wikipedia page that catalogs all the films with the most frequent uses of the word “f--k.” And at last check, that page did list “Wolf of Wall Street” as the top nondocumentary film, with 506 instances. The source of that information comes from a Dec. 30 blog post on WeGotThisCovered.com. The problem is, the author told IBTimes he isn’t sure where he got the number.
A few references to the 506 F-words do predate Joseph’s post, but none of the sites that we could find mention a source or admit to having watched the film. One possibility is that the figure came from IMDb’s trivia section, where anyone may contribute information anonymously.
At least one website does claim to have made an attempt to count the film’s F-word frequency. Kids in Mind, a media resource for parents, sent a critic to the film to evaluate whether or not it’s appropriate for children. (Spoiler: It’s not.) The critic counted “about 414” instances of the F-word and its variants. That number would put “Wolf of Wall Street” below “Summer of Sam” on Wikipedia’s list. In fact, it was cited by Wikipedia before recent revisions superseded it.
Kids in Mind’s editor-in-chief, Aris Christofides, said in a phone call that the number was the critic’s best attempt at catching every instance of the F-word (no small task in a Scorsese picture), but he said the F-word count could conceivably be higher than 500. Still, with no apparent record of anyone personally counting 506 instances, the jury is still out on the “Wolf of Wall Street” F-bomb record. Paramount Pictures, which distributes the film, did not return a request seeking comment.
In the meantime, the Variety article has been picked up by numerous other major outlets, including USA Today, E! Online, Rolling Stone, the Daily News and others, most of which cited Variety as the source. So, at this point, even if the 506 number isn’t accurate, “Wolf of Wall Street” may temporarily remain the F-word record-holder by virtue of aggregation.
In keeping with our commitment to uncovering the truth behind the most hard-hitting topics in media, IBTimes is still eager to set the record straight. If you have personally watched “The Wolf of Wall Street” and counted every instance of the F-word, please contact me. Then maybe seek some counseling.
Update: This article was updated above to reflect new information from people who counted the F-bombs. By request, an email quote was removed from this article as a courtesy.
Christopher Zara covers media, culture, entertainment and the arts. He joined IBTimes in June 2012. From 2005 to 2012, he served as managing editor of Show Business, a trade...