Abyss of Silence

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Very Touchy Subject

I don’t like the N word. I don’t use the N word. I have little patience for anyone who does, really. It smacks of uneducated stupidity (no that’s not redundant) or misdirected anger.

Scapegoating is not a philosophy of mine. If a Black person does something bad, I don’t assume that all Black people are bad. I don’t make similar assumptions about any other ethnic group. People are people, we’ve all got the same bloody, oozing organs on the inside.

I felt it necessary to state that in the beginning before I write what I intend to write about. Because in this day and age you have to state that outright for the mere mention of the N word can brand you as a racist by some. Look at me; I’m even nervous about typing it.

The word is nigger. It’s an ugly word because of the connotation it exudes of slavery and lynchings and other basic shittyness, which has been heaped upon a people for a very long time. It is still used by haters. A derivation of it is used by the hated. I’m not fond of either’s use. In one case the people are using it to be as nasty as they know how to be. In the second case, it’s being used as a way of stealing the thunder from the haters intention, which I don’t think it accomplishes but seeing as I’m as white as a sheet, my opinion doesn’t really matter on the subject.

What I am getting at is the word and all the subtext that goes along with it exists. There were and are still jerks out there who think in this ass-backward way.

I don’t really want to talk about racism itself but of hiding from the truth. What started me thinking about this is I was watching “The Shining” yesterday on cable. I don’t remember which channel but it was a basic cable channel that everybody gets. Now I find that cable is getting ridiculous with censorship in the last couple of years, but I digress. Anyway, so in “The Shining” there is this scene where Delbert Grady (a ghost) is speaking with Jack Torance (Nicholson’s character) in a bathroom. He explains to Torance that his son, Danny, is trying to bring an outside party into the situation and describes him as (in the original version) a “nigger cook.” In the version showed on cable yesterday, this was dubbed over with “no good cook.”

My question is why? In the story, Delbert Grady is a ghost who, while he was alive, went crazy and chopped up his wife and twin daughters with an axe. He and the rest of the ghosts of the hotel are driving Torance crazy and want him to do the same. It’s not like we were in danger of liking Grady. So who is being protected? Are children being protected? If that were the case, they wouldn’t show such a freaking scary movie in the middle of the afternoon. Is the mere mention of the word, by such an obviously malicious character, going to make people racist? Doubt it.

Was it necessary for the story line? No. Had the word never been in the original, I wouldn’t have missed it. I wouldn’t have thought, "you know, that Grady character should have been blatantly racist as well." With it in, however, a whole new level of evil was added to his character for me. We react to words like that. They evoke a reaction in most people. Whether it’s a good reaction or a bad reaction, it’s a valid reaction.

Movies and theatre strive to entertain but also to provoke thought. Isn’t this something worthy of thought? I was a little kid when I saw this movie. When he said that word, I gasped because I knew what it meant.

So why change it? You can’t change history. You can't alter the fact that there is ugliness in the world. Is it a, “maybe if we don’t talk about it, it will go away” kind of thing? I don’t know. What do you think?


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