Recently, Oprah Winfrey did several interviews for her new movie The Butler. In many, she was asked what she thought about the n-word. Her overall response was that she doesn’t use the word and doesn’t want others using the word.
Oprah is arguably one of the most influential women in media today. Even if she wasn’t, her statements got me thinking. Is there really a right or wrong answer to whether the n-word should be used in media, if at all??
So, I went and posted a question about whether the n-word should be used in media on my various social media profiles, and got answers from people of all different ages, backgrounds, ethnicity, and countries. Here are some of their responses:
“No. I don’t think the n-word should be used on or off tv/music/film/etc. But, since the ones I hear use it most are Negro (to use the non-PC term) I think that it’s tie to end the double-standard. If you want to get all pissy about the word being used by a non-black person, then stop using it yourself…. It is supposed to be an offensive term, right? Or, if it is a ‘term of affection/solidarity/whatever,’ then I, a white-Catholic-conservative-female can also call you the n-word all day long. We’re all equal, right?”
“No it should not be used at all. It is hateful.”
“I don’t like it at all ever.”
“No. I don’t and won’t associate with people who use that word.”
“I don’t think it should be used at all. And what really pisses me off is that the black community will use it among themselves, but if someone else uses it, it’s WWIII. If it is a word that is offensive for some to use then it should be offensive for EVERYBODY to use.”
“I never say that word (I am half black) but I do think it should be used in movies where it is appropriate – like the new one with Oprah (I don’t know if they use it in that though). I cringe to hear it but if it was used in the time period the movie is set in then yes I think it should be used if the movie has racial issues.”
In my personal experience, I have only heard the n-word a few times. I think a lot of it has to do with upbringing and, quite frankly, age. Many people of the older generations (including my grandmother) use the n-word because that is what was acceptable while they were growing up (although my grandmother has made an effort to stop using it when I told her it upset my friend [who is black]).
I think in terms of historical movies, the n-word can be used. In fact, it SHOULD be used, to accurately portray the emotions of a certain time period.