I was flipping through the channels last night when I came across Tropic Thunder again. I remember before the film came out and I saw stills like the one above and I thought, “Man…..” It was a bold move, but in context it’s a sharp satire – a (white) Method actor so committed to his character he feels entitled to tell his younger (authentic) black co-star about ‘our people’.
I use that lead in to talk about the new ‘revision’ of Huck Finn that everyone is talking about. I’m not going into copyright law, which is the ‘why can someone change Mark Twain’s work?” That could be its own post. Do I get why the N-word has been taken out? Yes, of course I do. Do I completely agree with it? Well…
The phrase that keeps ringing in my ears is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Even if I find the name Nigger Jim grating, Mark Twain put it in there for a reason. True to the time and voices of his characters? Historically accurate? Comedy? Satire? Racism? If you think the glass is half full, you see a politically correct edit. If you’re cynical (as I am), a different word comes to mind: censorship. And if we’re talking censorship, three things you have to consider are: 1) who has the authority to censor, 2) what’s their agenda and 3) where does it stop? And that is one hell of a slippery slope.
Just my two cents.