Oh, 2020, you’re finally over. And that can mean only one thing: it’s time to award the annual Strong Language honors for excellence in swearing. This is the sixth year that we’ve bestowed the highly prestigious Tucker Awards. (You can take a walk down memory lane by checking out our previous roundups, from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.) Regular readers will know that the awards are named in honor of the patron saint of Strong Language, Malcolm Tucker, the super-sweary political spin doctor played by Peter Capaldi in the BBC series The Thick of It and the film In the Loop.
Even though series creator Armando Iannucci continues to maintain that The Thick of It won’t be making a comeback, Tucker’s spirit was alive and well in 2020. In fact, a clip from the show, with Tucker declaring “a fucking lockdown” in the office, was used as a public-service announcement by the BBC back in March soon after the U.K. government announced the first stay-at-home order of the pandemic.
We can only imagine how Tucker would have handled this fucking omnishambles of a year. Let’s get this shitshow on the road.
With the calendar turning on another year (and another decade), it’s time once again for the annual Strong Language honors for excellence in swearing. For the past half-decade, Strong Language has been on the scene, tracking all the highlights in low language. (Check out our previous roundups from 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.) As always, the awards are named in honor of the patron saint of Strong Language, Malcolm Tucker, the endlessly quotable antihero played by Peter Capaldi in the BBC political satire The Thick of It and the film followup In the Loop.
Lately, Capaldi has reunited with Armando Iannucci, the creator of The Thick of It (as well as the equally sweary Veep) in the new film The Personal History of David Copperfield. Even though a different Dickensian adaptation, BBC One’s A Christmas Carol, managed to slip in some swearing, Capaldi’s Mr. Micawber is obscenity-free, so we’ll have to keep the spirit of Malcolm Tucker alive ourselves. As Malcolm would say, come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off.
With the passing of Scott Walker, who found pop-music fame as a member of the Walker Brothers before setting out on an inimitable solo career, the singer’s best-known work has been making the rounds online. One particularly memorable song from Walker was his first solo single, “Jackie,” released in December 1967. “Jackie” was an English-language rendering of Jacques Brel’s “La chanson de Jacky,” translated from French by Mort Shuman (a Brill Building songwriter who would go on to co-create the musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris). Both the French and English lyrics were quite racy for the time. The English chorus, as unforgettably delivered by Walker, goes:
If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
A-cute-cute in a stupid-ass way
Back in December 2014 when the Strong Language blog was just starting out, Stephen Chrisomalis contributed a memorable post, “How many swears can we give?” In it, Stephen mused on a couple of memes — “Look At All The Fucks I Give” and “Not a Single Fuck Was Given That Day” — and traced the history of “(not) give a TABOO TERM” (damn, shit, fuck, etc.) as what linguists call a “negative polarity item.” The following year, John Kelly posted about a newly popular idiom, “zero fucks given.” (Zero fucks given or ZFG was also nominated in the Most Useful category in the American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year voting.) Since then, there have been many more creative variations on the theme. Here are two humorous entries in the “no fucks/shits to give” genre that have popped up recently.
It is once again my solemn duty to present the annual Strong Language honors for excellence in swearing, named for our patron saint Malcolm Tucker, Peter Capaldi’s paragon of sweariness as seen on BBC’s The Thick of It, the cinematic offshoot In the Loop, and countless YouTube montages ever since.
This is the fourth time the Tucker Awards have been bestowed on worthy recipients — feel free to take a stroll back in time and peruse the winners of 2015, 2016, and 2017. But as the calendar turns on 2018, let’s get down to fucking business.