Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Hollywood unchained from N-word fixation

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

I love seeing excellence rewarded, which is why I loved watching this year's Academy Awards show.

That doesn't always happen. Until last Sunday, I hadn't watched an Academy Awards show since 2006, when the honors for the films made in 2005 were handed out.

The best song for that year, according to those geniuses that are members of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences?

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," a fourth-rate rap song made by a third-rate rap group called Three 6 Mafia. (The song itself came from the film "Hustle and Flow.")

How could something as dreadful as "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" win an Oscar? I figure academy members were trying to prove how hip and with it they were by choosing a rap song as the best of the year.

Actually, they ended up proving how clueless they were. Rapper 50 Cent -- whose drug-dealing mama at least had the good sense to name him Curtis Jackson before she died -- starred in a 2005 film called "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." Jackson had at least nine songs in that film, any one of which was better than "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

So I stopped watching the Academy Awards ceremonies. Academy members, by giving an Oscar to "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," clearly didn't take their awards ceremony seriously. And if they didn't, I couldn't.

But this year I watched, for no other reason than to see if director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino would cop the best original screenplay award for "Django Unchained."

He did. So, for me, all was right again with the world. Justice, at least fleetingly, had prevailed.

I only needed to listen to 15 minutes of dialogue from "Django Unchained" to realize what a superb, exquisite and original script Tarantino had written. He deserved an Oscar for it, but I figured that Hollywood types being who they are, political correctness might trump excellence.

Academy members could have gone one of two ways: either vote for "Django Unchained" if they indeed truly felt it was the best original screenplay, or vote for another screenplay as a protest of the number of times the N-word appeared in "Django Unchained."

Unlike the pundits who went to see "Django Unchained" and actually sat in the theater counting the number of times the N-word was used, academy members used some common sense and just went with what they felt was the best original screenplay.

In so doing, academy members proved they have something the pundit types apparently didn't have.

It's called "normal conduct." Really, who sits in a theater and counts the number of times any one word is used in it?

And when it comes to that particular N-word, the pundit types have a problem with consistency.

Did they count the number of times the N-word was used in Mel Brooks' 1974 film "Blazing Saddles," a hilarious satire that lampoons racism and bigots?

Funny thing about "Blazing Saddles" and the N-word: If that word isn't used, and used as often as it is, then the movie really doesn't work as comedy, satire or much of anything else.

Did the pundit types count the number of times the N-word was used in 1993's "Menace II Society," directed by African-American brothers Albert and Allen Hughes? If they didn't, then they really need to.

The pundit types were clearly subjecting Tarantino to a double standard, of the "bust the white guy's hump" variety. What they should have been counting was how many black actors, actresses and extras -- in other words, employed black folks -- were there in "Django Unchained"?

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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