The N Word in Hollywood: Are The Laughs Worth It?

Yesterday my husband and I went and watched The Neighbors. I had been geeking to see it for a couple of weeks. Seth Rogan makes me snort laugh. That movie was getting watched! (Passive writing totally warranted.) We got our awesome Neighbors-themed drinks and settled down to laugh and enjoy...and we did. We were laughing through the whole thing...until one of the actors impersonated Obama and ended his adorable bit with the N word.

The ENTIRE theater gasped. Yes, they gasped because it was totally out of left field. It made absolutely not a lick of sense, but it was fast and fleeting. Another joke came up. I twitched but figured it was a fluke and laughed along at the next joke. I was gonna let it slide.Then the dude said it AGAIN in a later scene and I was done. This time the audience laughed and I shrank. It ruined the whole experience. I left the theater feeling uneasy and furious. 

I'm so frustrated. I just want to know why the filmmaker allowed that word to make the cut. 

How do you get someone to understand the magnitude of that word? How do you convey that it packs an obscene amount of hate...even if you say it with a smile? It is NOT a term of endearment. It is not okay to use.

Whenever I hear the word I immediately flash back to being a small kid. I was playing with my friends and a white little boy screamed the word at me...told me to shut up and then BAM! He hit me with the hate. I was young, but I still remember how I felt hearing that word. I felt less than. I felt powerless and beat. Demeaned and even worse my white best friend sat by and said nothing so I felt alone. 

Back then I had no one to tell. No one understood and I didn't know there were others who felt the way I did. Now it's different. Now I have the interwebs so I took it to Twitter. I expressed my disdain for hearing the word. I didn't expect a response because no one wants to take responsibility and apologize for offending someone who isn't large enough to matter. I'm a no one...who cares what I think, right? But not even a minute later I get a notification that actor who had said the N word in the movie "favorited" my tweet. He was mocking me. I looked up from my phone; stared at my husband and started tearing up and the memory of the little girl being yelled at by the racist white boy back in Texas came flooding back in. By favoriting that tweet he was letting me know that he didn't care what that word did to me or like-minded folks like me. 

So I'm calling him out. I'm speaking up. I hope more people do the same. If people do...if they refuse to financially support that film and the writers maybe they'll learn that it's not okay and we won't just get over it. There are certain lines we shouldn't cross. The N Word isn't okay to use. I don't understand how people ignore that word's legacy. Are the laughs worth it?  

If you haven't seen the movie, please don't. Don't condone their thoughtless insensitive script. Don't support the bully actor who thought it was funny. Don't support the hate. The Clippers owner has been all over the news for his racist remarks. The same finger now needs to point at the gatekeepers in Hollywood.

Films are powerful. They have the ability to move and inspire us. Unfortunately, I went in thinking I'd get a great laugh and come away feeling a little lighter and goofier. I assumed the film would inspire some laughs. Instead I've felt like crap ever since. There are all of these actors doing terrible things right now and people are looking the other way. We need to stop looking the other way. It may not offend you today, but who knows what fowl slurs will come up next time.

I have no idea how to shake this off. I keep writing to friends who I know have the words and understanding. Words that I don't. I don't have smart comebacks. I just get angry and cry. (Not the way you fight the bully.) Even worse, I feel like I just have to let it go...somehow get over it because no one seems to really care that he said it. I'm not optimistic. That ignorant man's words counted for so much; mine for so little. People just shrug their shoulders and say, "Well not much can be done." The nuclear bomb of racial epithets was dropped. I'm searching for someone...ANYONE who cares about the impact.

The Neighbors , N word, Racial epithet, racial slur, Hollywood, Racists, Twitter, Ike Barinholtz


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