The ‘n’ is silent

Aldo Ramirez

Acclaimed movie director Quentin Tarantino has once again embarked on a dialectic controversy due to the frequent use of the “n-word” in his latest production “Django Unchained,” where he uses the controversial word over 100 times.

“Django Unchained” is set two years prior to the Civil War and portrays the life of Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave that embarks on a quest to find his wife after being given his freedom by a German bounty hunter, played by Christoph Waltz. Waltz recently won a Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Tarantino also won for Best Original Screenplay.

It is understood that due to its social history, the slur is an important element when it comes to establishing the time period in which the film is set. But a heavy, repetitive use of the word, that only saturates the ears of the audience, goes beyond any element of art.

The word is derived from the Latin word “nigrum,” which means black, but has been used historically in American society to denigrate a whole race due to the color of their skin.

This word is linked to atrocious events in our history, events so hatefully conceived that they have led our society to make an almost silent oath to forget the use of the word.

At the Golden Globes, Tarantino was asked if he ever considered not using the n-word while writing and directing “Django Unchained.” His answer? “No.”

“If somebody is out there actually saying it when it comes to the word n—-r, that the fact that I was using it in the movie more than it was used in the Antebellum South in Mississippi in 1858, then feel free to make that case. But no one is actually making that case. So in other words, they’re actually saying that I should soften it, they’re saying I should lie, they’re saying I should whitewash, they’re saying I should massage and I never do that when it comes to my characters,” he said.

Although Tarantino might have his reasons for the usage of the word, he has to acknowledge that this is a different era we are living in. The reality is that the consequences of using this word will be noticed in today´s society.

“This was one of the most narcissistic, self-indulgent, racist, most despicable characters I’ve ever read in my entire life,” said Leonardo Dicaprio as he described his character, Calvin J. Candie, to “Nightline.” In the film, Candie is owner of Candyland, a territory comprised of the four largest plantations in Mississippi.

The artistic rights that Tarantino has as director of the movie does not excuse his responsibility as a member of our society. Some people may say that the word is used to enhance the artistic value and contextual ambiance of a motion picture. While it may seem acceptable to use the word as an artistic element, in the daily basis of our social life there is no art in the word. It still has that connotative power to denigrate.

Of course, Tarantino is not to blame for all the crimes committed in the name of racism, but it is important to understand that these kind of projects have an effect on the audience. While the use of such a strong racial slur on the big screen may sound harmonious, it is not unusual to find people that may think it is proper to use the word in public places.

Let’s not forget that words have power. Tarantino surely hasn’t. The repetition of the word in his project reflects an intended reaction from the audience. Also, let’s not forget why we stopped using this disgusting term: to pursue the unity of our society, unity in the belief that this word was segregating. We must keep it silent.