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N Word
     

The N Word

5.0 1
Director: Todd Larkins, Todd Williams

Cast: Chuck D, Chris Rock

 

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The biggest names in show business come together to offer their opinions on one of the most inflammatory words in the English language in filmmaker Todd Williams' revealing and thought-provoking documentary. In its long and complex history, the word "nigger" has gone from a cutting and derogatory racial slur to a term of endearment

Overview

The biggest names in show business come together to offer their opinions on one of the most inflammatory words in the English language in filmmaker Todd Williams' revealing and thought-provoking documentary. In its long and complex history, the word "nigger" has gone from a cutting and derogatory racial slur to a term of endearment frequently used by African-American youth culture. Though the word has in a sense been "taken back" by the very people that it targeted, it still has the power to anger and enrage when taken out of its new context. As a variety of celebrities including Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, George Carlin, Damon Dash, and Bryant Gumbel offer their opinions on this polarizing word, the taboo of language is broken to reveal an ever-changing society that is constantly attempting to make sense of a dark past while simultaneously attempting to build a brighter future.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Most people have had at least one conversation about the historical usage, current meaning and potential for rehabilitation of the harsh derogatory term that takes center stage in The N Word. Todd Williams' documentary transplants that conversation to film, and casts a wide array of relevant personalities as the conversationalists. The result is not necessarily a clearer idea of who "can" and "can't" say this word (or who gets to decide that for the rest of us), nor is there any consensus whether the newer fraternal usage has displaced the original hurtful associations. But that also gets at the word's totally subjective nature -- just as some African-Americans embrace and empower it, others recoil from it like a verbal slap. It's also heavily dependent on context and inflection, as even the same person might use it alternately to honor or to humiliate. (Toward that end, the dichotomy of meaning between the word as spoken with an "a" ending and an "er" ending is also explored). Williams has gathered just the right mix of cultural commentators, ranging from academics to comedians (George Carlin, Chris Rock) to hip hop artists (Ice Cube, Chuck D) to athletes (John Salley) to representatives of the older generation (Quincy Jones). Their opinions frequently defy prediction. But the real underpinning voice is that of Richard Pryor, who is credited with first confronting audiences with the word -- and then repudiating said word upon further reflection. There could be no more apt metaphor for the word's status as a living, evolving entity, even if the evolution may be traveling in the opposite direction of what Pryor experienced. Williams has done diligence to his history as well, researching the earliest known uses of the n-word, and including segments in which prominent African-American actors give voice to the writings of authors who have grappled with it. The N Word seems to endorse this ongoing grappling, in order that the word doesn't normalize itself in a way that's more insidious than it may appear.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/24/2006
UPC:
0634991264525
Original Release:
2004
Rating:
NR
Source:
Urban Works
Time:
1:25:00

Special Features

Audio commentary

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Chuck D Interviewee
Chris Rock Interviewee
Quincy Jones Interviewee
Ice Cube Interviewee
Dick Gregory Interviewee
George Carlin Interviewee
Michael Rapaport Interviewee
Damon Dash Interviewee
Samuel L. Jackson Interviewee
John Singleton Interviewee
Nia Long Interviewee
Cee-Lo Interviewee
Chi McBride Participant
LeVar Burton Participant
Whoopi Goldberg Participant
Bryant Gumbel Participant
Regina King Participant
Wynton Marsalis Participant
Russell Simmons Participant

Technical Credits
Todd Larkins Director,Screenwriter
Todd Williams Director,Screenwriter
Helena Echegoyen Producer
Nelson George Executive Producer
Peter Ochs Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The N Word - Divided We Stand
1. My First "Nigger..." [12:28]
2. Neger, Niger, Nigger? [11:01]
3. The Politics of Nigger [5:55]
4. Nigger, Colored, Negro, Black [2:57]
5. That Nigger's Crazy [8:42]
6. The Rap on Niggers [10:58]
7. Niggers Vs. Niggaz [13:37]
8. Birth of "The N Word" [19:47]

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The N Word 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched, and one of the most powerful. It is an exploration of the ‘N’ word, and all the power, hurt, and connotations it has. Most of Hollywood and some of the music community offers their views on the word- when to use it, when not to, who to use it with. But this movie is so much more than that. It sounds way to much like an after school special to say that this movie will open up a dialogue between you and anyone you watch it with, or explain it to. Yes, this is the case with this film. Once the subject is breeched- and this is the perfect icebreaker to do it with- then you and others can start talking about what this word means to them and how it has impacted them or those they love. Everyone has something to say about it. So listen and learn. It’s powerful in a very magical way. Just don’t watch the film and expect easy answers on race or community issues, but do watch the movie and expect to have a very thought provoking experience. Recommended for everyone, but parents might want to screen this movie before watching it with young children as it has adult subjects and language. But watch this movie, then watch it with those you love. You’ll be glad you did. Talking about these issues is the only way to solve anything.