I sincerely hope I’m not the only person noticing the increasing acceptance of the word ‘nigger’ on television.
Five years ago, it was completely unacceptable to use this word, uncensored, on virtually any network or basic cable television program. It was bleeped out when black people said it, and it was bleeped out when white people said it. It was bleeped out on the radio when stupid ass J-Lo used it in “I’m Real”. It’s bleeped out in the censored version of Eddie Murphy’s “Raw”. It was EVEN bleeped out (usually) in PBS and basic cable airings of the “Roots” series.
Today, you hear the word ‘nigger’ being said EVERYWHERE by EVERYONE – and nothing is more interesting than the fact that this can be blamed entirely on Comedy Central.
Figure 1: Created a monster
Chappelle’s Show premeired on Comedy Central sometime in 2003 with the incomparable Dave Chappelle as it’s star and creative director. The first season (and specifically, the first skit in the first episode of the first season), executed nothing short of racial shock-and-awe with Clayton Bigsby’s constant uncensored use of the word ‘nigger’. This skit was absolutely fucking hilarious and would set the tone for the racial irreverence that defined the show. What poor Dave wouldn’t realize until 2005 was that he’d created Dr. Frankenstein’s monster.
As I see it, Dave used the word ‘nigger’ to force white people to laugh at their racist past (and present). Use of this word, as well as other black-white themes in the show, were supposed to make white people think introspectively about their own stereotypes, become aware of them, and perhaps become more cognizant of subtle, latent racism. In short, these caustic jokes were intended to make white people laugh at themselves.
The same can be said of two now-infamous episodes of South Park – also a Comedy Central product
The first was the ‘Here Comes the Neighborhood’ episode, in which the only black kid in town (who also happens to be the only rich kid in town) feels isolated by his wealth, and goes on a campaign to get more rich people to move in. All the rich people he gets to move in are also black, and the entire storyline is then based on the conflict between the townsfolk (all poor and white) and the newcomers (all rich and black).
Figure 2: Rich black kids will never do this
The conflict, however, is mockingly centered on class instead of race – the townsfolk refer their rich black neighbors as ‘richers’ instead of ‘niggers’ and dress up with white hoods and robes because “rich people are scared of ghosts”. All this is designed to make people aware of the obvious racial subtext in spite of the less plausible but certainly possible socioeconomic subtext – and again get white people to laugh at subtle racism.
Then there was the much less subtle ‘Nigger Guy’ episode, which was partially created in response to Michael Richard’s tirade at the Laugh Factory, but was probably created even moreso in response to his claim after the fact that he’s “not a racist.”
The plot is simple. One character is at the bonus round of Wheel of Fortune. The category of the puzzle is “People Who Annoy You” and, after picking his four consonants and a vowel, the letters on the board read N _ G G E R S.
Figure 3: I can’t believe this hasn’t happened in real life yet
After an uncomfortable 5 seconds and a threatening look from the black cameraman, he finally shouts out ‘NIGGERS!!!’…only to find out that the answer to the puzzle was ‘NAGGERS’ (as in people who nag.) This character then spends the rest of the show trying to convince everyone in the country that he’s not a racist, becoming socially ostracized in the process and forced to become friends with people like Michael Richards and Mark Fuhrman. Like ‘Here Comes the Neighborhood’ and Chapelle’s Show, this episode was designed to make people examine their own racist attitudes, and get a laugh by laughing at themselves.
This is not what happened.
All these shows accomplished was, in fact, to desensitize everyone to the word ‘nigger’ and, by extension, the very idea of racism itself. Using the word ‘nigger’ was supposed to shock people into realizing that they still harbored latently racist attitudes. Instead, it just got everyone laughing at the word ‘nigger’, black stereotypes, and the resulting indignation of black people.
Dave Chappelle realized this sometime in late 2004, when he noticed one of his white crew members effectively laughing AT him instead of WITH him. He quit soon after, but the damage was already done. ‘Here Comes the Neighborhood’, which aired in 2001 (before Chappelle’s Show) did not use the word ‘nigger’ – not even bleeped out. After Chappelle’s Show ended, everyone was using the N-word all over television – including the ‘Nigger Guy’ episode of South Park which used the word at least several dozen times, uncensored.
The insensitivity to the word finally leaped out of television and onto the streets of supposedly enlightened cities like Washington D.C., where suddenly I could hear white people freely using the N-word IN PUBLIC and IN THE PRESENCE OF BLACK PEOPLE. Basically, we can thank Comedy Central for an increasing perception among non-blacks that black people should be OK with the N-Word coming out of their mouths.
Figure 4: “Duuuuude! What’s up my nigger?!”
Of course, none of this is really surprising since Comedy Central is owned by Viacom. Many people are fooled into thinking that Viacom is a media conglomerate, but smart people know exactly what Viacom is:
Vi . a . com [vie – ah – cohm] (n) – a soulless economic juggernaut with the sole and expressed purpose of destroying black people*
Viacom is responsible for all kinds of offenses against black people, in addition to tricking Dave Chappelle and the creators of South Park into thinking their racially incisive wit would be understood with any degree of sophistication by the average jackass. These offenses include, but are not limited to:
- The unmitigated destruction of hip hop as an artform and mode of cultural expression
- The popularization of the ‘angry black man’ and ‘gay black man’ stereotypes through shows like The Real World
- BET, and specifically all the racist stereotypes injected into the shows on this network, which was then expanded overseas to promote worldwide stereotypes of black people
- The assassination of JFK**
- The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center**
- The crucifixion of Jesus**
- The destruction of Alderaan**
Figure 5: Viacom Headquarters
It’s pretty obvious that in ‘Undercover Brother’, Universal Pictures had Viacom in mind when referencing the nameless evil corporation, intent on the enslavement/destruction of black people, that was headed by ‘The Man’. I just wish more people saw this for what is was.