“It is a more delicate business, however, to decree that black people can sling the n-word all over the place while white people are burned in effigy for saying it. That’s the ritual that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was complaining about in her ‘eruption’ on her radio show. She, like most Americans, doesn’t get why black people can but white people can’t.
“The reason is weird but coherent. Blacks recruited the word partly as a reclamation and partly out of an inferiority complex born of oppression. From both of these impulses, it evolved into a term of joshingly teasing affection. That’s an old story among human beings: A Russian word for ‘guy’ is muzhik, which started as meaning ‘peasant.’ Italians back in the day could use ‘wop’ in the same self-referentially affectionate way. It’s an even older story among blacks than is often known: The affectionate use of the n-word was well established a century ago and before. …
“All fine, but the idea that Americans will ever understand this nationwide is fantasy. No nation is a population of anthropologists, linguists and historians. … Yet all will agree that nevertheless, whites should not be able to hurl the word around with impunity. The resulting ‘We can but you can’t’ situation is peculiar and fragile, but then, so is much of how human societies handle the ticklish synergy between past and present.”
One size fits all
“Reading about all the supposedly really smart people [who] are looking down at all us hoi polloi … who have questions about the ‘Ground Zero Mosque,’ I started seeing a pattern in their criticism of those putting forward conservative ideas or opinions at odds with their world view.
“They who sneer [about] how simplistic rubes right-wingers are offer a remarkably simplistic [analysis] about the motivations for our actions, that our political opinions are rooted in animosity against minorities.
“If we oppose the mosque, it’s because we’re anti-Muslim. If we oppose Obama’s policies, we’re racist. If we disagree with courts overturning the will of the people to mandate state recognition of same-sex marriage, we’re anti-gay (or self-hating if we are gay). If we support tough laws cracking down on illegal immigrants, we’re anti-Hispanic and xenophobic to boot. You get the picture.”
“You might remember that about a week or so ago we ran a piece asking the average movie goer why they care if critics hate the movies they like. … Well, flash-forward a week and now it seems we’re having the opposite problem: critics are up in arms that movie fans didn’t turn out in droves to support a film critics felt deserved the box office profits to match their high acclaim.
“The movie in question here is ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,’ which was part of a three-way box office showdown this past weekend, facing off against the macho-man action throwback ‘The Expendables’ and the chick-lit sensation turned Julia Roberts vehicle, ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ When the box office receipts were tallied, ‘Expendables’ and ‘Eat, Pray’ took the top two spots, while ‘Scott Pilgrim‘ came in at number five. …
“At the current time, some of the very movie critics from around the blogosphere who helped establish that high ‘Pilgrim‘ rating [at Rotten Tomatoes] are none too happy that the larger movie going audience seemingly ignored their collective praise of the film. And they haven’t been shy about voicing their displeasure. Since the weekend box office numbers have come in, you can practically feel the backlash coursing through the movie news community.”
- Kofi Outlaw, writing on “Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate the Movies They Like?,” on Aug. 19 at Screen Rant
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By Andrew P. Napolitano
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