Friday, August 26, 2011

Richard Pryor - That Ni**er's Censored


After sending out a couple of Twitter messages, I decided to write about this at greater length, because I am simply not bright enough to convey my thoughts in 140 characters. I'm currently watching a Biography Channel documentary on Richard Pryor. My annoyance began when they were showing a great Pryor clip from The Mike Douglas Show. Richard was talking about going to jail for tax evasion: “I told the judge, ‘Your honor, I forgot to pay my taxes’ and the judge said, ‘You’ll remember next year, (sound drops out)’” Because I’ve heard the joke, I know that the word nigger was edited out.
This makes me want to vomit for a couple of reasons. First of all, while ‘nigger’ is certainly a socially unacceptable word (and a great way to lose your teeth if you mutter it too loud in traffic), it is NOT considered a ‘fineable’ word by the FCC. And even if it were, the FCC does NOT have jurisdiction over cable television. So this was purely a politically correct, knee-jerk reaction by some (almost certainly white) dummy at the network. Second of all, Richard Pryor spoke about race more beautifully and accurately and honestly than any entertainer ever has. Ever. I am amazed at the absolute arrogance of some idiot, regardless of color, (although they’re almost certainly white), editing (and thereby subtly editorializing) the way Pryor spoke about it. The reason ‘nigger’ is important in that joke is because it was the natural way Pryor expressed himself. He wasn’t being ‘shocking’ or ‘outrageous’ by saying it; just true to the way he communicated. And more importantly, it expressed how Pryor felt the judge viewed him. It was edited from nighttime cable and originally aired on daytime television.
I was further sickened that when discussing Pryor’s rise to fame, they mention his BRILLIANT Grammy winning album, That (sound drops out) Crazy. And not only does the sound drop out, they go on to show a photo of it. They redeemed themselves a moment later, though, when they mention his second Grammy winning album, Bicentennial (sound drops out) and show a photo of it, as well. I wanted to throw something through my television. I opted not to, though, because I want to pop in my favorite porno later, White Girls Who Crave Big (sound drops out) (sound drops out) Up Their Skinny White (sound drops out).
Bicentennial Nigger is such a powerful album, and the title is an extraordinarily important reference to the way Pryor saw blacks being treated in America (the album was released in 1976). The title track is the last track on the album and it’s an angry, sarcastic piece about slaves being brought over. I find the bit much sadder than I do funny, and it’s probably my favorite single bit Pryor ever did. The title of the album is an absolute FUCK YOU to America on her birthday, and to blur and edit that out because it offends the head of standards and practices is to censor a very substantial message Pryor was delivering. This isn’t a case of me wanting to say ‘pussy farts’ on The Tonight Show; this is decapitating a social message being delivered by a genius.
And in another beautiful act of mindless inconsistency, they don’t edit out the references to domestic violence or drugs, nor do they edit out the mock-up of cocaine. I guess the (primarily white) network standards and practices department aren’t terrified of getting letters, and thereby possibly effecting advertising revenue, from allowing these things. (A moment later, the sound dropped out on the word ASS. In case you were wondering what Mary Poppins has been up to, she’s running The Bio Channel.)

This sickening display of disingenuous politeness is a perfect example of why anyone who thinks Americans are socially progressive should be run over by a gravel truck. This editing was done without a moment’s thought about context, the message, or who was delivering it. They run a biography on Pryor because his work was so poignant, but decide the transient social obsession with the word nigger outweighs the importance of hearing Pryor deliver it in the honest language he used.
I guess I have such a hard-on for this because of the influence Pryor had on my life. I don’t mind profanity being taken out, because those words would have been edited out ten years ago. I just find it reprehensible (good word, Jim!) that Richard Pryor is being edited because THE N WORD became unacceptable in any situation by any human in any context after Michael Richards went bat-shit at The Laugh Factory.
You cannot say things on cable television today that you could say on network television thirty years ago. We are not ‘free thinkers’; we are a mindless, robotic population whose main goal is to thought-police, snitch on, and ‘catch’ each other expressing the wrong thoughts (or, expressing the right thoughts with the wrong language). This decision wasn’t made in the spirit of honesty or caring about people’s feelings; it was made paternalistically and the motive was self-interest.
I guess I’m done babbling about this now; nothing is going to change, regardless of how annoyed I get or how many times I underline and capitalize key words in a desperate attempt to be heard. And, just to cover all bases, if I was wrong and the head of standards and practices who made this decision is black, Latino, or Asian - fuck you, too.

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55 Comments:

Blogger Veracity said...

Dude, that is big font.

Mary Poppins is the Bio Channel.

Motherfucker!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Tommy said...

God damnit Norton. This is genius.
Bravo sir.

4:34 PM  
Blogger J.R. said...

well said/written Mr. Norton

4:34 PM  
Blogger Amish mike said...

Well said jimmy

4:35 PM  
Blogger tdh said...

Agree completely! !!! Well put

T houchins

4:39 PM  
Blogger Timothy and Stacey Lewis said...

Excellent!!!!

4:46 PM  
Blogger E. Coli said...

That's a fine post, Ji**y.

4:48 PM  
Blogger charlie said...

Who was Richard Pryor? Jk nice work Jim

4:48 PM  
Blogger cablsurfin said...

Brilliant rant Jim. I agree wholeheartedly.

4:50 PM  
Blogger John Self said...

Really fucking good. I want to read your book now. I was reading Louis CK's blog about Iraq, and I was like, whoa: Louie can write really entertaining prose, even if he can't spell so well. Not to be a cunt, but if you get around to writing another book, I would recommend immersing yourself in the English comic novelist Martin Amis for a little while. His obsession with renovating the language even when it comes down to the smallest phrases in his duller, more functional sentences is really instructive. Dude even wrote a book called "The War Against Cliche". Not to be a cunt again, but phrases like 'bat-shit (crazy)' are inherited hive-mind phrases, and you are too good for them. So yeah: read some Amis, and let your word power merge with his, and then write another book.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Exophrine said...

Goddammit, Jimmy. When you're right, you're right. I agree wholeheartedly. They're gutting his work!

To be consistent, where's the blur on Adam's penis in the Sistine Chapel painting? Someone's getting a rod at home, looking at that!

4:58 PM  
Blogger Will Carroll said...

Ahh this world is doomed to blandness now.... Nice take on things Mr. Norton...

4:58 PM  
Blogger Cornibal said...

fuckin' A

5:20 PM  
Blogger CRaP (Cynical,Ridiculous, and Pathetic said...

really fucking large font, but if it was normal it would look like half a blog.....this is a real fontfuck.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Bainer. said...

There's one major problem here Jim: you spent monumentally more time thinking this blog through and framing your point than anyone at any network ever did when making decisions like these. Your stance of 'art in context IS the art' flies in the face of any exec's 'art for the masses which offends none but is dumbed down for all'.
Saying 'nigger' or even 'pussy farta' isn't always funny- say them in context and you'll make people laugh, say them in context well and Biography does a show on you- but they can't explain why.

5:38 PM  
Blogger JonBenet's Cunt said...

Fuck the B**GRAPHY CH***NEL in their stinky asses.

5:48 PM  
Blogger PCM said...

You're right. Some white, leftist, PC, cunt-bag, fuck-wad censored it. These worms have infected TV programming, terminally.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Angelswatch said...

great, guess your not bobo's brother after all.

6:51 PM  
Blogger J.C. Ferrell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:32 PM  
Blogger J.C. Ferrell said...

Honestly Jimmy, the idea you would question your betters and potential corporate masters is shameful - they know what is best and it behooves you to offer your obedience to their superior intellects and expertise - after all they have network, you only have a microphone

7:34 PM  
Blogger sjchaos said...

Holy fuck, Jim! Perfectly expressed. I wish we had more celebrities express how important this shit is to all forms of art. You rule.

8:13 PM  
Blogger J.C. Ferrell said...

@velvetfan ---- shouldn't that be "WE HEARD YOU!!!"

8:25 PM  
Blogger justlet'emswearbitch said...

Thank you for being so honest and to the point. This was one of the best things I have ever read. Censorship in this country has gotten out of hand when you do something like these assholes did.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Linkz said...

Very very well put sir

9:11 PM  
Blogger What_A_Buzz said...

Taking the N word out of Pryors dialouge KILLS the humor. They should have done a bio on Donny Osmand instead.

9:33 PM  
Blogger ACe said...

Jim Norton 2012 It starts here!

12:10 AM  
Blogger Ken STL said...

Jim, this pisses me off EVERY DAY.
I used to sell black Americana items on ebay until they booted me off. I opened my own website oldtimecollectibles.com thinking fuck them, they can't boot me from my own website.
I started getting hate emails & looked the people up on facebook, all white. Paypal pulled my ability to accept payment within 2 weeks of the emails. I switched to google pay, they canned me within 24 hours. I said fuck this again, I'll get my own credit card processor. I went to the nastiest porn sites (probably on your favorites bar) that had incest & animal porn & signed up with their credit card people, NOPE!!! After 3 weeks of fucking me around they would not take my business, I was told my products& the theme of the website was too offensive. Is tar baby & Darkie soap really more offensive to people than people fucking their daughters & family pets?

I’m not trying to use your blog to hock my stuff, I can’t take money, I just wanted to show how ridiculous the whole situation is. It’s not the couple grand I have tied up in inventory or all the time I spent setting it up that pisses me off so bad, it’s the same thing that you are talking about, FUCKING WHITE GUILT RIDDEN PANSYS that are so scared someone might be offended.
There has to be a public push back coming, if not were all fucked.
Thanks for giving me a place to vent,
Ken from STL.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Alien Alda said...

All is fair in art, music and comedy, period.

12:13 PM  
Blogger banalborefest said...

jesus jimmy, you certainly proved the point you made in the 1st sentence with this needlessly drawn out novella. also, thanks for using such a large font, my nana is going to love reading this.

*I am howling at JonBenet's Cunt--such an unnecessary, mean name--I can't stop laughing.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Nice post, (sound drops out).

1:45 PM  
Blogger Raggamofyn said...

Blog some more, Jim. Your long-form stuff is awesome, whereas Twitter leaves someone wanting more.

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