It’s a classic move: Folks let the N-word fly and then burn a hole in the floor underneath them trying to backpeddle into an apology about it. So I can pretty much guess how the black folks on the set of NBC’s show Community felt after star Chevy Chase launched into a rant on Friday, which he peppered with that ever-colorful, time-honored slur.
According to people who were actually there, who instinctively fed information to TMZ (because that’s just what we do nowadays), Mr. Chase was none too pleased with the script—he’s been pretty vocal about his displeasure with various inner workings of the show, anyway—and berated the dialogue by saying the next step in the storyline might be to call the two black characters on the show “niggers.” Oops.
Sure, he’s getting some grief about it now, but he darn sure got his point across. And isn’t that what really matters after all, especially for a privileged Hollywood veteran with just a smidge of a reputation for being a hothead? Pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to slip out past that little mental fence that keeps people from releasing little things like that, even as they’re in heavy rotation inside their minds.
So, true to etiquette in situations like this, the politically correct side of Chevy Chase emerged and issued a swift, even impromptu, apology to the two cast members that word is most likely to offend because, well, they’re both African-American and they were probably standing right there.
Now, there are two possible angles here: the one that says Chase was merely complaining about his character being a bigot and used a word that is the gold standard in the racist’s bag of really nasty names. So it wasn’t Chevy himself being a slur-slinging jerk. It was that he was complaining about Community’s writers making his character look like a slur-slinging jerk, I guess.
And then, on the flip side, there was this comment from Yvette Nicole Brown, one of the two black cast members at the center of this little debacle: “I have the gift of walking away,” she tweeted after the incident. "Always have." Methinks she wouldn’t have anything to walk away from if she weren’t just an eensy bit irked about that word rearing its ugly head during her workday.
The future of Community is at a standstill—not because of this whole N-word thing—but there’s nothing like the swift and fluid use of a racial slur to get the ol’ creative juices cranking and get the people demanding new episodes once again. Headlines, people, headlines…
Does an apology make a public boo boo all better?
Image via Alan Light/Flickr