It may not be among George Carlin’s infamous seven. But as we’ve seen just this past week, the ‘N-word’ on television is a verbal lightning rod for controversy and anger. And rightly so, given its historical connotation of racism and hatred in our nation. In light of the firestorm brought on by Bill Maher’s recent use of the word on HBO, the PTC is sending an advisory message to parents that the ‘N-word’ will air at a time and place where children are likely to be watching.
The program at issue is the June 21st episode of The Carmichael Show on NBC. We understand and appreciate that The Carmichael Show has tackled a number of hot-button issues. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Carmichael himself stated that he intends to use the word in an adult manner, and not like children would use the word. But we also know that children will be watching the show, hence our parental advisory.
Are you concerned about the N-word being used in an upcoming episode of The Carmichael Show? Is it ever appropriate to use the ‘N-word’ on television? I asked a few friends who are in the media business and/or are members of the PTC’s leadership team if they would share their insightful opinions.
Dr. Delman Coates, a member of the PTC Board of Directors and the Senior Pastor of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, offered the following comment:
Some with whom I have shared this have stated that, while they don’t like it, they need to see context. The corporate advertisers should preview the show to see if they want their brands associated with the slur, regardless of context.
Morris W. O’Kelly, or Mr. Mo’Kelly as he is known to his listeners on KFI AM 640 here in Los Angeles, offered the following comment about Bill Maher’s recent use of the ‘N-word’ on HBO:
The problem with Bill Maher and his “joke” last night is just that. He has no investment, no involvement, no responsibility, no burden to bear with the word or the history it entails. It was and could only ever be…a joke. He has never been called it, threatened with it; mocked on his job with it, had relatives killed in connection to it. It was and could only ever be…a joke. This has NOTHING to do with who “can” say it or who “does” say it. No one should. Nobody gets a free pass with me. Nobody.
Paul Porter, a member of the PTC’s Advisory Board, cofounder of Rap Rehab and author of his new book,
Blackout: My 40 Years in the Music Business, offered the following comment:
NBC and the Carmichael Show are in need of a history lesson. The N-word was created by slave masters, and any excuse for airing it in prime-time is simply lowering standards on the backs of slaves. If NBC allowed the N-word in the office, I might understand their feeble excuse that the show doesn’t target children. I’m an adult who doesn’t want to hear it at all.
Malcolm Spellman, a writer on the Fox TV hit series
Empire, offered the following comment:
It is a uniquely inflammatory word that strikes directly to an unresolved issue that defines our nation, whether we want to admit it or not. It is a genie that was released from its bottle by hip hop, without instructions for suburban kids who had it mainlined through their headsets. In fact, older African Americans were still debating it furiously in barbershops while their younger kin sold it on iTunes. Carmichael has the right mind and courage to use his platform to add some much needed dialogue to a word that flies without a care by some, yet devastates others.
So what do you think? I’d really like to hear your opinion.