Wednesday, January 2, 2013

SLJ dares interviewer to say 'nigger'




[UPDATE 1.4.13: Re-posting this from the comments section because my exact position on this needs to be clarified.]

It's always been my belief that words only have as much power as we give them, and that includes potentially offensive words like 'nigger.' Race has been a huge problem in America for centuries, and the only way we can begin to solve this problem is if we're able to talk about it openly, and without fear - not by hiding behind euphemisms like 'the n-word.' For better or for worse, the word 'nigger' exists, and tiptoeing around it for fear of offense does no one any good in the long run.


SLJ understands this, which is why he wouldn't let the interviewer get away with a discussion on race without using the word 'nigger,' especially when the interviewer was the one who brought it up himself. And SLJ was absolutely correct in saying that if he said it first, it would not be the same thing. 



The interviewer, a white guy, clearly wants to have an intelligent discussion on race, but by sticking to the euphemism, meaning is either lost or misconstrued, as SLJ proved when he responded, "No? Nobody? Nothing?" After all, lots of words begin with N. Therefore, I strongly doubt that the interviewer would've been crucified over saying 'nigger' IN THIS CONTEXT.

14 comments:

  1. That's excellent! Oh, how I love Samuel L. Jackson.

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    1. A part of me thought this interview might be staged... but even if it is, the basic point still stands.

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  2. So he feels uncomfortable with the "N" bomb? He could try alternate descriptions SUCH AS: JIGABOO, PORCH MONKEY, TAR BABY, SPEAR CHUCKER, BLACK BUCK, PICKANINNY, BLACK MAMMY, JUNGLE BUNNY and let's not forget the most insulting smear of all... WAYNE BRADY.

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  3. Yes, Mr. or Miss Anonymous, he could have, but if you look at the video, you'll see that it was the interviewer himself who first used the euphemism "n-word" and that's what Sam responded to.

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    1. It's me Rich, John "Halfrican" Baker.

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    2. Really? Damn! I thought I'd attracted a troll...

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  4. Hi-first time here. I don't know you yet, of course, and I'm not able to determine from the comments what you think -- did you think that the interviewer did the right thing? I don't see any problem with him asking about the use of the n-word the way he did. It's been a big controversy with that movie. I don't know why SLJ was putting him on the spot like that. I wouldn't say it either -- if the interviewer had said it, he would have been absolutely crucified by the rest of the media and the public. What do you think, and what would you have done? No argument intended, just confused about your standpoint.

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  5. Hi Becky. It's always been my belief that words only have as much power as we give them, and that includes potentially offensive words like 'nigger.' Race has been a huge problem in America for centuries, and the only way we can begin to solve this problem is if we're able to talk about it openly, and without fear - not by hiding behind euphemisms like 'the n-word.' For better or for worse, the word 'nigger' exists, and tiptoeing around it for fear of offense does no one any good in the long run.

    SLJ understands this, which is why he wouldn't let the interviewer get away with a discussion on race without using the word 'nigger,' especially when the interviewer was the one who brought it up himself. And SLJ was absolutely correct in saying that if he said it first, it would not be the same thing.

    The interviewer, a white guy, clearly wants to have an intelligent discussion on race, but by sticking to the euphemism, meaning is either lost or misconstrued, as SLJ proved when he responded, "No? Nobody? Nothing?" After all, lots of words begin with N. Therefore, I strongly doubt that the interviewer would've been crucified over saying 'nigger' IN THIS CONTEXT.

    I hope this makes my position clearer. Thanks for responding. (I like your blog, BTW.)

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  6. Hey Rich -- I see now what you meant. I sure hope that public and media response to the interviewer's taking up SLJ's challenge and saying the word would be understood in the context. But I can't help but remember that poor accountant guy, high up in government -- that's awful, I can't remember his name or rank. But he was discussing someone's budget ideas, and he said they were very niggardly with their money, something like that. It caused an absolute firestorm, and the man almost lost his job. People were up in arms, the media was nuts, and he was required to apologize -- for using a word that actually has nothing to do with race. Lack of education sure did show in this one!

    Anyway, you are quite right that we should be able to have open and frank discussions, and I imagine that is what SLJ meant. But I have grave doubts if that is possible. By the way, I appreciate your support of my blog -- I should have been here long ago, and I will be from now on! I like what you do.

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  7. Oh yeah, I remember that incident - never underestimate the ignorance of some people.

    Glad you understand where I'm coming from on this - and doubly glad you like the blog!

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  8. I burst out laughing when the guy said "It was a great question" and Samuel L. Jackson said "No it wasn't."

    I have to admit, it'd be almost impossible as a professional to actually say "nigger" there. And like that dopey white guy interviewing Samuel L. Jackson, I HATED even typing that word. And I don't have my career on the line like that guy did. Whether or not his career was actually on the line (as you point out, it probably wasn't), I'm sure he felt the fear of reprimand had he done it.

    But SLJ was absolutely justified in doing that. He's right, and you're right. Until there can be a very open and honest discussion about this stuff, it's meaningless. We're all just polishing a turd. Race relations is teetering on pornography- a topic that's taboo to even bring up. And that doesn't help anybody.

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    1. I would've avoided that entire line of questioning if I was so uncomfortable with the word.

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  9. John, as I said above, I agree that discussion is essential. Your analogy to pornography is spot on. The problem I see here, though, is that Jackson didn't act at all as if he wanted a rational discussion. He just kept egging the guy, say it, say it, and to me was kind of a bully about it. I don't think the guy was particularly dopey. It's an awful position to be put in, and I wouldn't have known how to react to Jackson's strange behavior either. I have to say I don't think Jackson was justified in doing it the way he did. That wasn't a reasonable or fair way to start a discussion about something so inflammatory. At least that's the way it looks to me.

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  10. I won't argue that point. SLJ did seem a little too eager to get him to say it.

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