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This will be a short diary.  I decided to watch "Killing Lincoln" tonight on the National Geographic channel.  I missed the disclaimer prior to the start of the dramatic documentary, which says:

"This program contains strong language including racial slurs in historical context.  Viewer discretion is advised."
I was then amazed by the use of the "N-word" on 4 occasions (that I caught) during the course of the program.  Even without having seen the disclaimer, my reaction each time was "What?! They didn't need to use that word there".  Note, I caught the disclaimer when the program re-aired immediately after the premiere.

This is a program which premiered at 7:00 PM Central Time during Black History Month on the National Geographic Channel (which is included as part of the Basic Cable package here).  The only strong language in the program that I noticed were the racial slurs which could have easily been avoided.

I know that Rupert Murdock owns NatGeo.  Bill O'Reilly wrote the book, so we're not talking about literature like Huckleberry Finn here. I was honestly surprised to see Tom Hanks (yes of Forrest Gump fame) serve as narrator.  I am sure that a profitable time was had by all, but the insensitivity to not use less incendiary language boggles the mind - the use of the that word was simply gratuitous.  I used to be a fan of The National Geographic Channel - but no longer.  This was a step too far.

Poll

Primetime, Basic Cable, National Geographic Channel, Black History Month - is it OK to use the N-Word?

64%50 votes
30%24 votes
5%4 votes

| 78 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber

    I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

    by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 07:57:26 PM PST

  •  If I'm doing Huck Finn in prime time, I'm leaving (17+ / 0-)

    EVERYTHING in and damn the censors.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:02:11 PM PST

  •  Hard to say. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too

    I have no context here.

    Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

    by dov12348 on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:03:15 PM PST

  •  Booth was a racist (13+ / 0-)

    And racists of that time used that word regularly.  Yes, it made me wince to hear it but if you are trying for historical accuracy it would have been completely out of place to substitute a more acceptable word.  Overall I thought the show was well done and interesting.

    •  While I was watching I didn't think I heard ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... anything I hadn't heard before.  There have been dramatic presentations which were equally well done.  In my mind, the sole exception between this presentation and the others was the language used by the characters.

      I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

      by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:25:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Booth was a southern sympathizer I think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, Lujane

      is the polite term; however he did not give up a lucrative acting career to enlist in the Army of Northern Virginia because he had promised his mother.  He did serve in the Richmond Grays militia before the war
      http://askville.amazon.com/...

  •  The n-word is said 7 times in the film "Lincoln" (10+ / 0-)

    Did you also have a problem with that?

    Or is it just that Fox owns NatGeo, and this was based on a Bill O'Reilly book?

    •  FWIW... (2+ / 0-)

      My problem with "Lincoln" is that Speilberg was so intent on being historically accurate about minor things (the sound of Lincoln's stopwatch, for one), while totally disregarding facts/accuracy in far more important areas (he shows Connecticut's Reps voting against passage of the 13th Amendment, when they actually voted in favor of it).

    •  It was the time aired, the channel that aired it.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Trix

      .. not necessarily because Murdock owns it, but because it's the National Geographic Channel.  I don't know what Lincoln was rated, but I don't think using that word on Basic Cable, even in an historical context, is appropriate.

      I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

      by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:20:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that... (9+ / 0-)

        whitewashing history (no pun intended) would be more offensive.

        •  I guess if the n-word hadn't been the only... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Trix

          ... attempt at "authentic speech of the day" I may have let it slide.  But the word seemed to be used gratuitously.

          I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

          by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:48:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  language changes rapidly; very few Americans (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, auditor, Deep Texan

            can read Shakespeare or KJV without a commentary while Chaucer is completely lost to the average American.  I would hazard a guess that even something as recent as 1865 would still involve language which would be unfamiliar to viewers.

            After all entertainment's first goal is to be accessible to the audience

          •  Maybe you'd like to rewrite History... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, skohayes

            as you'd like to believe it was?

            Own your history and be ashamed by it, but don't run from it. Admit it, and teach your children why it's wrong. Don't wrap your kids in cotton wool at home and expect them to be protected in the outside world.

            BTW, what other "authentic speech of the day" do you think was missing?

            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:13:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't know... (0+ / 0-)

              ... when the President is shot, I don't imagine perfect queen's english being spoken by all witnesses and responders.  I'd expect the same visceral types of reaction we'd have today, the f-bombs and the "Holy Shit's" of that era.  All we got was "Oh dear, the President has been shot", "May I hold his head in my arms", and screaming.  So if you want authentic speech of the day, let's hear something other than the n-word - like that's the only difference between speech then and now.  The nation was at war at the time, I'm sure that we had some pretty interesting epithets of the day, and I am sure they were used when the back of the President's head was blown out.

              I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

              by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:43:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't know, I wasn't there. Did the upper and (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Hey338Too, skohayes, Deep Texan

                middle class who went to the theatre that night regularly drop the f-bomb in everyday speech? Because I'm damn sure they dropped the n-bomb.

                'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:57:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Obviously you have never read Victorian porn. nt (2+ / 0-)

                  Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

                  by ohiolibrarian on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:33:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But in polite company? Witness the diarist's... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Hey338Too

                    angst regarding the N-word. See? Even I daren't even type the word for fear of retribution. Which vulgar words do you think were uttered in polite company of the day? Do you drop the f-bomb at a dinner party today? Why/why not?

                    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:53:49 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, they had theater boxes to keep the upper (2+ / 0-)

                      classes separate from the hoi polloi; that doesn't mean that there was no hoi polloi in the place. Also, when the men were asked about what they saw, they would not have been in 'polite company'. They would have been frightened and angry and venting some pretty powerful feelings.

                      Don't mistake Bill O'Reilly's effusions for reality. Why should he be any more accurate in history than he is in anything else?

                      Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

                      by ohiolibrarian on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:15:49 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Oh I'm sure that Billo is as accurate as a... (0+ / 0-)

                        blunderbuss at 100 yards. However, the diarist is offended by and attacking the apparent gratuitous use of language which would have been commonplace in the time of Lincoln.

                        I'm just saying that changing the language in an 'historical' drama or recreation (no matter how inaccurate) to avoid offending the sensibilities of a modern audience, is lying.

                        And no, no amount of money could get me to sit through anything Billo does.  

                        'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                        by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:24:39 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Your point was 'polite company' so no other (1+ / 0-)

                          swearing or 'blue' language. Using the 'N' word was certainly common enough in general, but in 'polite company', (AFAIK) people used 'Negro', at least when they were talking more or less neutrally in official contexts; assuming they weren't pissed off in some way. Lower class people were likely to use it more even in formal contexts.

                          I think the diarist had the sense that there was something wrong with the overall use of language and fixed on the 'N' word because it seemed unusually obtrusive.*

                          Personally, I just think ol' Billo wanted the excuse.

                          *Caveat: I only saw part of it, so ... maybe I'm wrong; maybe the uses of the word were appropriate. I'm just going based on what I saw.

                          Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

                          by ohiolibrarian on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:35:34 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Points taken. Re: 'unusually obtrusive'... (0+ / 0-)

                            I would think that is due to recent cultural (Caucasian)  sensitivity to the word.

                            Billo wanted the excuse? Of course he did. He's a troll, and unusual in the fact that he's a meat space troll who's costing his network viewership.

                            May he spew his hate until Fox self immolates in a firestorm of their own ignition.

                            Do I like Fox? No, not much.

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:22:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  Looks like they were as "creative" as we are... (0+ / 0-)

                  I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

                  by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:39:41 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Not to be snide, but should Nat Geo Magazine also (4+ / 0-)

        self-censor their photography?  Life is life, history is history, and whitewashing either does a disservice to both.

        This use of language wasn't, to use one of the FCC's metrics, done gratuitously, and the appropriate warning was issued.

        Perhaps one day enough people will complain and the FCC will mandate one of the SAP channels be used for censored (or uncensored) audio versions of a program.

        I, personally, would rather have the option of having the original soundtrack available even if it's the "alternate" choice.

        Remember: the same Defense Department that was apparently caught completely off-guard by sequestration is the same Defense Department that's responsible for America's defense.

        by here4tehbeer on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:59:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  generations of teen aged boys would have (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too, here4tehbeer, Deep Texan

          been left to wonder for additional years had there not been Nat Geo

        •  I think there is a distinction between what is... (0+ / 0-)

          ... in the magazine vs. what is on the station with the same name.  The magazine has a reputation for images which present life as it is, and articles which are presented from a factual perspective.  What was presented (between ads for the channel's prepper and military glorification series) was based on a book by Bill O'Reilly which some have deemed to be inauthentic to the facts.  Not using the "N-word" would not have whitewashed the text at all, but it would have prevented 14 year old African Americans from hearing the word "used in context" while trying to learn about a perspective about a moment in history.

          I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

          by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:27:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Setting aside the O'Reilly prejudice, is it worse (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, skohayes, Deep Texan

            that a 14 year old kid of any heritage hear a word in a historical context than in, for example, a "hip hop" context?

            Remember: the same Defense Department that was apparently caught completely off-guard by sequestration is the same Defense Department that's responsible for America's defense.

            by here4tehbeer on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:59:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm a 51 year old white male... (0+ / 0-)

              ... and it was offensive to me.  I would imagine that a white 14 year old male in Georgia or Alabama may think the use of that word validates the word for them.  I would hope that a 14 yo AA male would be somewhat embarrassed hearing the word used in the 19th century context instead of a 21st century attempt to "uncontext" the word.

              I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

              by Hey338Too on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:27:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why would you think (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Deep Texan

                an historical story about the death of Lincoln would inform teenagers of the 21st century about language usage?
                "Oh, they used the "N" word, that means I can use it too"?

                “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                by skohayes on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:26:08 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I'm a mid-50s white male and it doesn't affect me (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Hey338Too

                when used in a legitimate, historical context.  But even then there's a line which most writers adapting a work for broader audiences typically will not cross... which usually means limiting "gratuitous", conversational usage of inflammatory words when not part of a key text, statement, or speech.

                And I would hope that a 14 yr old would hear that word used in its original, historical context and think "damn... that's wrong."  The same kids who hear it only from their parents, peers or iPods probably won't get that perspective.

                Remember: the same Defense Department that was apparently caught completely off-guard by sequestration is the same Defense Department that's responsible for America's defense.

                by here4tehbeer on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:36:27 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I can say that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deep Texan, Hey338Too, here4tehbeer

            14 year and younger old African Americans have heard  the word "used in context".I have 2 sons and while very young it was explained to them while watching Roots that they might hear that word some times and what it meant.
            They need to be desentitize.

            My youngest son was 27 when one of his telphone contacts told him N go back to Africa. He reported the incident and the proper actions were taken. He said what upset him the most they were still using the word today.

            My grandaughter is one of 2 black kids on her school bus and she has often told me some kids say the N word on the bus frequently.Because she is desentitized  she ignores them.

    •  This was hashed out over "Django Unchained" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, Deep Texan

      in previous diaries I thought
      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/...

  •  Just Ended Here, I Support That Element of It. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    here4tehbeer, Hey338Too, BlackSheep1

    And now I understand why Booth was so understatedly portrayed by having him say "That means n****r citizenship" which doesn't convey the significance of Lincoln standing for them getting to vote. Which so many of these people to this very day are still suppressing.

    I'm surprised O'Reilly wrote it but then since it's on a sci/history/reality channel in the US I shouldn't be surprised. Einstein and Biblical prophets bounce around all our educational channels.

    Crap. Now I'm going to have wade through acres of competent analysis to see if it is any good.

    But I stand by use of historical language in historical presentations.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:12:37 PM PST

  •  It just wasn't a good show (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, Gooserock

    At the beginning, Hanks says that Booth has been treated by history as a 2 dimensional maniac - and the show turned him into a 1 dimensional maniac. I assume they decided to use N to try to spice up an otherwise dry and dull script, and try to give SOME indication of Booth's underlying motivations.

    There is a MUCH better documentary about the subject, 'The Hunt For John Wilkes Booth' which goes into extraordinary detail on Booth, Lincoln, and the conspiracy. I believe it runs on the Discovery Channel occasionally, keep an eye out for it. It's REALLY good, and fills in a lot of the details you may not know. And it's family-friendly language.

    New Arizona State Motto; "Yeah, but it's a dry hate!"

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:25:24 PM PST

  •  Booth Landed on the Stage in Perfect Health and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, BlackSheep1

    strutted across it on 2 sound legs, repeating "Sic semper tyrannis."

    I damn near fell out of my chair.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:35:04 PM PST

  •  "Ford's Theatre flunks O'Reilly's Lincoln Book" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:44:20 PM PST

  •  I really expect better out of National Geographic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too

    If a supposedly educational organization on a supposedly educational channel can use such flawed source material......

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:46:04 PM PST

  •  Historical Accuracy is Important (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, Deep Texan

    The n word was used to demean slaves, and if the viewer is to feel the full horror of slavery, it is appropriate for the word to be used.  I have no problem with the use of the word in this context.  And of course when we read Mark Twain we have to experience the full power of his words.

    I didn't think the Nat Geo production we are talking about was all that good, but not because it included the n word.

    Some movies, in the context of the time, almost require it.  I think "Unforgiven" is one of the great western movies of all time, and one that depicts the West as it really was, but the fact that they never once used the n word once was for me a betrayal of the otherwise realistic nature of the movie.

    If we correct history it isn't history any more, and we can't learn the important lessons that we need to learn.  

    God is innocent: Noah built on a flood plain.

    by alphorn on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:23:56 PM PST

  •  Faux News (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too

    There's no way that I would watch a program based on anything by Billo Oliely.

     

  •  To be honest (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msdobie, Hey338Too

    I would never watch this anyway as it is supposedly based on the factually challenged dreck that O'Reilly wrote. The book had so many errors in it that the National Park Service pulled it off their shelves, if I remember correctly.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:22:59 AM PST

  •  The words "in historical context"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too

    should be a giveaway that one is going to hear words commonly used in 1865. I saw the program and wasn't offended in the least, since I'm aware of history and the language used in that period. One would expect that type of language from ill-mannered bigots.

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