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Old 01-08-2020, 10:52 PM
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The use of the N word


I just watched Blazing Saddles (Comedy genius!)on TCM, and they bleeped out the N word. I found that rather sad. But I kinda understood it. Not sure about how I felt in the end.

So, can the N word be used in prose, song and film? (Not counting black rappers using it, that's a special case, of course)

Is it Ok in Randy Newman's "Rednecks"? Pretty strong satire, so I think yes.

(warning bad language not work safe)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o80BB0qZoVM

Or Huckleberry Finn? Here, I say- of course. No doubt.

(I suppose this could be in Cafe Society but it's not the discussion/debate as to the film, etc per se, but as to the use of the N word. If mods move it there, so be it)
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:54 PM
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that's weird. TCM usually shows everything uncensored I thought
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:00 PM
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When the characters in the movie say it, it's not OK. Which is kind of the point. We know that the characters, or at least the society they live in, has a problem, because of the language they use.

When the actors on the set say it, as part of portraying those characters, that is OK, because the actors are not using the word, they are mentioning it.
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:02 PM
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I see nothing wrong with it in the context of Blazing Saddles or Huckleberry Finn. I also think one should say they bleeped nigger, because they did. They did not bleep "the N word". One can state a fact without it being racist. Maybe not as polite to some people but that doesn't necessarily make it wrong.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:30 AM
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...I also think one should say they bleeped nigger, because they did. They did not bleep "the N word". One can state a fact without it being racist. Maybe not as polite to some people but that doesn't necessarily make it wrong.
I see your point, but I was trying hard not to offend anybody.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:43 AM
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I see nothing wrong with it in the context of Blazing Saddles or Huckleberry Finn. I also think one should say they bleeped nigger, because they did. They did not bleep "the N word". One can state a fact without it being racist. Maybe not as polite to some people but that doesn't necessarily make it wrong.
The grammatically correct way to express this is

I also think one should say they bleeped "nigger," because they did. (Or you could use italics in lieu of quotation marks.) I'm not nit-picking. There's an important distinction there.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:20 AM
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I would say "the word nigger", it makes the use/mention distinction clearer.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:32 AM
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This is definitely a tangent but one thing ive noticed (and think is stupendously ridiculous) is the tendency for younger white girls who obviously were raised in better-than-average homes, speaking (and writing!) In the most crude form of ghetto talk imaginable on FB. Every other word is "nigger" or "nigga" and they see it as ok for them simply because they date black guys. Lol. But wow! To see these girls type in this form of English is just jarring.

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Old 01-09-2020, 02:11 AM
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When Dr. Laura got in trouble for excessive use of the word nigger on her radio show, would you say her use of the word was unacceptable? Say it once to make a point, fine, but to repeat the word over and over like she did, that's crossing a line, I think.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:07 AM
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There was a black standup comedian Patrice O'Neal, a very funny guy, who sadly has passed away. He had a joke that he ended with the punchline "nigger in a Buick" and he said when he saw it on TV they bleeped out the Buick but not the racial epithet and he was like what in the hell?

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Old 01-09-2020, 04:00 AM
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I recall being amazed a few years ago by this bit in Aziz Ansari's Dangerously Delicious.

It is about his hatred of racism but fascination with racial slurs. He prefaced the bit by saying that the slurs are, by their nature, offensive so if you are offended "shut your fucking mouth."

Talking about compound epithets he then used this term for native Americans, "prairie N-word." He imagined someone calling a Native American that and when confronted by a nearby black dude telling him, "I said 'prairie' this doesn't concern you. Step off."

It is a ridiculous, almost surreal idea that, to be able to tell the joke Ansari had to have the protagonist use a phrase designed to prevent offence yet maintain that it too caused offence rather than use the actual offensive word. He added to my bewilderment by several times using the phrase "ching chong bing bong" having explained that it is an offensive term for Asians, not to be used in their presence.
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:57 AM
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I'm not sure how I feel about the censorship in Blazing Saddles. I found it funny when I first saw the movie, and still do I guess. But I'm a white Canadian guy who never really grew up around the word, and honestly, apart from some songs my kids used to play, I don't think I've ever experienced it out in the wild.

Mark Twain on the other hand is culturally significant and needs to be left the hell alone.

Blazing Saddles is very funny movie, but I don't think it loses much by bleeping out "nigger." Although Canada, if you recall, decided that Dire Straights "Money for Nothing" could no longer be played on the radio without bleeping or removing the word "faggot." This was through a self- governing body called the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. After a lot of people wrote them to explain the context of the slur the decision was eventually reversed. But most stations still choose to edit it out.

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Old 01-09-2020, 05:52 AM
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I think censoring the N word out of Blazing Saddles is a mistake. It's an example of taking the current understanding of racial inequity and power of words to oppress and retroactively applying that understanding to a generations-past work of comedic art. Leave it be. And let it stand as a testament to the less-enlightened times of that era.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
I just watched Blazing Saddles (Comedy genius!)on TCM, and they bleeped out the N word. I found that rather sad. But I kinda understood it. Not sure about how I felt in the end.
It was perfectly appropriate how the word was used in the movie.

It was also appropriate that the word doesn't meet TCMs standards and practices and got bleeped. They play to a wider audience then might appreciate that kind of edgy humor.
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So, can the N word be used in prose, song and film? (Not counting black rappers using it, that's a special case, of course)
At one time I called that the "N-word copyright." Or maybe it's really a trademark.
I thought it had a sort of cleverness to it. Historically black culture is always being appropriated. But you put that word in it then white people can't really go around singing it, right?
Well, companies are careful when using their trademark name so you get corporate talk like "I only use N-word sanitary napkins." But the music industry went hog wild with it and use it 10 times in every song by some artist. And who is buying this music? It's people who buy music. Everyone. Mostly young everyones when it comes to that music. The double standard can no longer apply. Anyone under 30 has free license to use that word. You can't expect them not to be singing along to all their favorite songs.

I consider myself from a generation that hates it, but here we are.

Last edited by Aquadementia; 01-09-2020 at 05:57 AM.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:26 AM
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Although Canada, if you recall, decided that Dire Straights "Money for Nothing" could no longer be played on the radio without bleeping or removing the word "faggot." This was through a self- governing body called the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. After a lot of people wrote them to explain the context of the slur the decision was eventually reversed. But most stations still choose to edit it out.
How did they feel about Arlo Guthrie's use of the same word in Alice's Restaurant?
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:38 AM
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How did they feel about Arlo Guthrie's use of the same word in Alice's Restaurant?
Great question! It never came up. Of course Alice's Restaurant only ever gets played a handful of times a year and I believe they act mainly on complaints from the public.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:35 AM
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The grammatically correct way to express this is

I also think one should say they bleeped "nigger," because they did. (Or you could use italics in lieu of quotation marks.) I'm not nit-picking. There's an important distinction there.
correct, thanks
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:17 AM
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It was perfectly appropriate how the word was used in the movie.

It was also appropriate that the word doesn't meet TCMs standards and practices and got bleeped. They play to a wider audience then might appreciate that kind of edgy humor.
Edgy humor? The movie came out 45 years ago.

I think that a lot of it is that at the time the term was in more common use, and that using it comedically was something more subtle than a lot of people realized. At the time it was more satire than anything else.

But today, it's just latter-day pearl clutching that would prevent the word from actually being used- simple revulsion at the word, without really being aware of the satire. It's possible I suppose, that the changes in race relations over the past 45 years have rendered the original humor somewhat irrelevant, and that bleeping the word doesn't really detract from it or the movie as a whole.

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Old 01-09-2020, 11:07 AM
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Edgy humor? The movie came out 45 years ago.
And Bismuth was discovered in 1753, by French chemist Claude Geoffroy the Younger.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:14 AM
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finally a dupe!

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Old 01-09-2020, 11:21 AM
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I read one book on censorship that pointed out if you said "fucking nigger," it's ridiculous to beep the first word and allow the second. I agree

And let's not forget the whole OJ Simpson/Mark Furman brouhaha that started this mess.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:02 PM
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And let's not forget the whole OJ Simpson/Mark Furman brouhaha that started this mess.
Bleep, Please!
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:18 PM
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The comparison of Huck Finn with Blazing Saddles is interesting, for the different ways in which the N-word is used.

In Blazing Saddles, it's only used by the common clay of the New West - you know, morons - and they are outside the vicarious experience of the audience, who are on the side of Cleavon Little right from the start. Or at least from the "I Get No Kick From Champagne" scene, which is the first direct response to the use of the word, and sets the tone of the emotional response Mel Brooks is trying to get.

In Huck Finn, the word is used by the protagonist, including as part of his internal monologue. The audience is expected to, and does, identify with Huck. Thus the use of the word is more subversive - readers who are jarred by it can be re-involved in the narrative by identifying with Huck's struggle against "sivilization" and its attendant racism and general inhumanity. Therefore in Blazing Saddles it is less important that the N-word remains unbleeped - the townspeople are already known as inferior, and it can be more taken as understood. In Huck, IMO, excising the word altogether removes much of the emotional punch when readers find themselves hearing someone they are involved in understanding use the word. And thus the struggle Huck goes thru trying to extricate his moral sense from what he learns from community is less impactful.

Of course, I read a lot more books than I see movies, so YMMV.

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Old 01-09-2020, 02:27 PM
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Much to their chagrin, many have discovered that personal opinion is irrelevant when it comes to society's view of the word's use. Even Blacks have moved to an alternative, albeit closely related, word when referring to another Black person in a friendly manner. I'm not going to print it, though, because I'm not sure it is kosher for a white person to use that, either.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:40 PM
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Even Blacks have moved to an alternative, albeit closely related, word when referring to another Black person in a friendly manner.
Not in my universe. Even the white people that are tangentially in the lives of black people feel they somehow are allowed to freely use the N-word. For certain younger communties that is. "Blacks" arent a monolithic group that move and change as one block of humanity.

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Old 01-09-2020, 03:08 PM
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I remember when some TV airings of Blazing Saddles censored the entire farting scene. That was so shockingly heavy handed that I don't even remember if anything else was censored in the same broadcast.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:40 PM
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A tangent on the word's usage in media over time.

Recently my teenage son and I watched both "It" movies as well as the 1990 mini-series. One thing my son noticed when comparing a 1990 made-for-television production with 2 modern R-rated theatrical films, was, as expected, the movies contained more blood, more violence, creepy nudity and much more profanity. However, in the older TV version, vicious bully Henry Bowers frequently uses the n-word slur against Mike Hanlon, yet that word never appears in the newer films, despite Henry being portrayed as much more psychotic than his TV-counterpart.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:41 PM
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I just watched Blazing Saddles (Comedy genius!)on TCM, and they bleeped out the N word.
I saw part of the movie last week on TV (not sure if it was on TCM or not) and no dialogue was censored.

If they really wanted to make sure no one would be offended by the movie, the resulting cuts/bleeps would've resulted in a run time of about 14 minutes.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:52 PM
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I just watched Blazing Saddles (Comedy genius!)on TCM, and they bleeped out the N word. I found that rather sad. But I kinda understood it. Not sure about how I felt in the end.
I am curious to know if the editing got so out of hand, if in the scene where the Gov wraps his arm around Cleavon and says "Don't you realize that man is a ni-" they bleeped out "ni-".
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:06 PM
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I'm not going to print it, though, because I'm not sure it is kosher for a white person to use that, either.

As in the Dr. Laura example, saying the word niggah is perfectly acceptable. How can you discuss the word if you can't even say the word? But, as with the Dr. Laura example, you don't have to keep repeating that word and be an absolute dick about it. Say the word once, then refer to that word hereafter.
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:27 PM
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Blazing Saddles is very funny movie, but I don't think it loses much by bleeping out "nigger." Although Canada, if you recall, decided that Dire Straights "Money for Nothing" could no longer be played on the radio without bleeping or removing the word "faggot."
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How did they feel about Arlo Guthrie's use of the same word in Alice's Restaurant?
IMO the one in Alice's Restaurant is more offensive because it more blatantly implies that two people are actually homosexuals using an offensive slur, rather than using the word out of jealousy and vaguely disparaging their manliness, which isn't to say calling a pretty boy who doesn't have a "real job" a "faggot" is not offensive, it's just not as offensive as calling someone a "faggot" for enthusiastically singing with another man.
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:34 PM
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With regards to the word in question in the thread, I don't think it's acceptable for anyone to say these days. I don't have some secret hankering to say it: rather the opposite, I don't want anyone else to say it either. I don't make exceptions for the culture that someone grew up in either, but if someone grew up around people who call each other "nigga" then I'll merely look down on it as vulgar rather than racist. It certainly is no longer "reclaiming" anything because that's the majority of its usage these days.

With regards to Blazing Saddles, the only time I saw it was around 10 years ago and it's treatment of the word seemed to skirt the line between satire and exploitation. I think of exploitation as art that ostensibly is against what it is showing but is using this "concern" as a cover to show it anyway. I can't decide whether Blazing Saddles was only trying to make a point with its use of the N-word, or was also trying to be edgelords and use the issue as an excuse to be vulgar.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:01 PM
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I can't decide whether Blazing Saddles was only trying to make a point with its use of the N-word, or was also trying to be edgelords and use the issue as an excuse to be vulgar.
Mel Brooks would never take just any excuse to be vulgar!

How could you suggest such a thing!
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:15 PM
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Sarcasm aside, this was not the case with Blazing Saddles. Yes, it was vulgar, but there was also a satiric point being made.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:37 PM
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Hard to believe TCM censors Blazing Saddles when they have no problem showing the appalling blackface of Holiday Inn.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:43 PM
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I think that it's abundantly clear that the message of Blazing Saddles is anti-racist, and I'm not sure how someone could fail to see that.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:11 PM
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IMO the one in Alice's Restaurant is more offensive because it more blatantly implies that two people are actually homosexuals using an offensive slur, rather than using the word out of jealousy and vaguely disparaging their manliness, which isn't to say calling a pretty boy who doesn't have a "real job" a "faggot" is not offensive, it's just not as offensive as calling someone a "faggot" for enthusiastically singing with another man.
I had to look up the line to remind me-

And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them

It is the Army recruiters who would think that, so I think they are the ones being disparaged. Even so, I bet if Arlo wrote the song today he would just say "gay."

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Old 01-09-2020, 09:35 PM
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I laughed at the word's use in Blazing Saddles, and understand it's use in Huckleberry Finn, but I still don't think it ever needs to be used.

Not that my disapproval carries any force, but I don't think anyone should use it. Color, relationship status, who your best friends are, no. In this thread I wonder if some are taking the opportunity to, hee hee, type the entire disgusting and offensive word out with no repercussions.

In this day and age the word should be dropped from our language.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:49 PM
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I sometime watch reruns of The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son on TV One--a "black channel." Sometimes George or Fred drop the n-bomb and it isn't censored.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:23 PM
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A tangent on the word's usage in media over time.

Recently my teenage son and I watched both "It" movies as well as the 1990 mini-series. One thing my son noticed when comparing a 1990 made-for-television production with 2 modern R-rated theatrical films, was, as expected, the movies contained more blood, more violence, creepy nudity and much more profanity. However, in the older TV version, vicious bully Henry Bowers frequently uses the n-word slur against Mike Hanlon, yet that word never appears in the newer films, despite Henry being portrayed as much more psychotic than his TV-counterpart.
The original mini-series also didn't have the murder of the gay guy, but it did in the new one.

(Interestingly enough, I read somewhere that the kid who played Henry in the mini-series absolutely hated using the n-word, and after every scene, he'd apologize to the kid playing Mike.)
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:59 PM
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IMO the one in Alice's Restaurant is more offensive because it more blatantly implies that two people are actually homosexuals using an offensive slur, rather than using the word out of jealousy and vaguely disparaging their manliness, which isn't to say calling a pretty boy who doesn't have a "real job" a "faggot" is not offensive, it's just not as offensive as calling someone a "faggot" for enthusiastically singing with another man.
How about Joe Jackson in "Real Men" singing
"You don't want to sound dumb, don't want to offend
So don't call me a faggot, not unless you are a friend
"
?

Joe himself is bisexual.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:14 PM
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I worked on a game once that was trying to cash in on the popularity of GTA: San Andreas, except instead of a sprawling open world game, they just decided to have the characters say the n-word as much as possible while you ground your way through an utterly uninspired corridor shooter.

We licensed some hip-hop songs for the game. One of them had a lyric that referred to "niggers and faggots." And we bleeped "niggers" in the song, despite it being every third word in the game's dialogue, but left "faggots" alone.

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Old 01-09-2020, 11:42 PM
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I think that it's abundantly clear that the message of Blazing Saddles is anti-racist, and I'm not sure how someone could fail to see that.
Absolutely, no doubt.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:55 AM
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Here’s my real life “n” word story.

When I lived in NYC, I was friendly with a local disabled veteran, Michael. A fairly young guy, racially mixed, one of those guys that ran out and enlisted after 9/11. While in Iraq, he lost a leg in a roadside explosion. He also suffered a serious head injury which resulted in other issues such as emotional lability.

Michael lived in a “wounded warrior” housing unit near where I lived. He would hang out on the street in his wheelchair, talking to his friends and, yes, bumming money for food - the local merchants liked him and gave him large amounts of food for small amounts of money.

We talked about a lot of things, including the mixed attitudes of people towards veterans in general and Michael in particular. One day he was talking about his relationship with some of the other veterans in the neighborhood, the older white “greatest generation” WW2 vets. He was telling me that they were generally really good to him and they would take him to the local bar and buy him drinks. But then his emotional issues would surface and he’d start crying or ranting. And then, in his words, it was “time to go, n****r”.

Michael started using that phrase as sort of a punchline. We’d be hanging out talking and one of the older veterans would join us and he’d grin and whisper “time to go, n****r”, in my ear. And I did smile when he did that.

And the last thing in the world that I would have done was chastise this guy for his language. I think he felt that phrase succinctly described his mixed feelings about that group of older veterans, and I sort of agreed. And it bonded us, largely because of the inappropriateness of the word. But is was still weird for me, because “n-word”. And I NEVER would repeat that punchline myself, even though Michael tried to get me to a few times.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:37 AM
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I’m content with the current social etiquette that reserves the word for use by black people and Quentin Tarantino, but I think we can be mature enough to leave past utterances in Art and History unedited. It’s a shame that one of the most brilliant (and funny) commentaries on the power of that word has been all but scrubbed from TV History. I’m referring to the SNL sketch featuring Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:37 AM
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I think that it's abundantly clear that the message of Blazing Saddles is anti-racist, and I'm not sure how someone could fail to see that.
Because some people are so busy being offended, that they don't have any time for common sense.
  #47  
Old 01-10-2020, 05:33 PM
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When we proscribe or censor words like "nigger" or "faggot," we weaponize those words, and we weaken the groups described by them.

There is no more potent way to keep "nigger" a powerful weapon for a malignant user than to ban it. Banning "nigger" turns its use into An Event. It creates a contest for the Most Offended to step up and be recognized as champions of the downtrodden; protecting blacks who are so weak that even words are enough to beat them down.

Censor it in a movie or a book, and instead of cleaning up an insult, you allow the word to retain all of the evil that ever went into it.

We do well to let the audience of language form their own opinions for any word use.
Sticks and stones is a far more powerful approach than is giving those with malicious intent words capable of inflicting maximum pain because the words are so powerful they need to be censored, and the targets of the malice so weak they need White Knights to keep them from being hurt.
  #48  
Old 01-10-2020, 09:40 PM
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It was perfectly appropriate how the word was used in the movie.

It was also appropriate that the word doesn't meet TCMs standards and practices and got bleeped. They play to a wider audience then might appreciate that kind of edgy humor.
This is absurd and shows a complete lack of what TCM is all about. TCM is about fighting for the preservation and airing of film. Not about censorship. TCM is showing a John Waters/Divine double feature this evening: Female Trouble and Multiple Maniacs. The contents of early Waters film makes Blazing Saddles look like a mainstream comedy. If TCM edits these films, I will never watch them again; if they dont they are absolute hypocrites for editing BS.
  #49  
Old 01-11-2020, 12:39 AM
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that's weird. TCM usually shows everything uncensored I thought
Iíve never seen it air on TCM but it runs a lot on AMC, which bleeps things.
  #50  
Old 01-11-2020, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
Although Canada, if you recall, decided that Dire Straights "Money for Nothing" could no longer be played on the radio without bleeping or removing the word "faggot." This was through a self- governing body called the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. After a lot of people wrote them to explain the context of the slur the decision was eventually reversed. But most stations still choose to edit it out.
How did they feel about Arlo Guthrie's use of the same word in Alice's Restaurant?
Colibri sure didn't like it when I used the word "faggots" (without quotes) in a parody-quote of Alice's Restaurant a few years ago.

See this thread, Posts #29 and #31.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
[Moderator Note]

Senegoid, I realize that this is a parody of Alice's Restaurant, but many people may not recognize it. In any case, let's avoid the gratuitous use of offensive terms like "faggot" in this forum.

Colibri
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