Samuel L. Jackson is the latest celebrity to weigh in on the controversy surrounding Joe Rogan’s apology for repeatedly using the N-word on his podcast.
“He is saying nobody understood the context when he said it,” Jackson, 73, told The Times of London. “But he shouldn’t have said it. It’s not the context, dude — it’s that he was comfortable doing it. Say that you’re sorry because you want to keep your money, but you were having fun and you say you did it because it was entertaining.”
The Joe Rogan Experience host apologized earlier this month after a video compilation of him using the racial epithet roughly two dozen times went viral. Grammy award winning musician India.Arie, who resurfaced the video, pulled her music from Spotify and called Rogan “consciously racist.”
In an Instagram video, Rogan said, “I know that for most people there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast. He said that he agrees with that sentiment now and that he hasn’t said the word in years. “I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”
But for Jackson, using the N-word in media is appropriate only when it is “an element of what the story is about. A story is context — but just to elicit a laugh? That’s wrong.”
The veteran actor, who is this year’s honorary Oscar recipient, also defended his frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino, who has received criticism over the years for his use of the word in his films. Jackson, who has starred in six Tarantino films including Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and The Hateful Eight, cited his experience while on the set of the Oscar-winning 2012 movie, Django Unchained, which ignited controversy for using the word roughly 110 times.
While we were rehearsing ‘Django Unchained,’ Leo [DiCaprio] said, ‘I don’t know if I can say [the N-word] this many times. Me and Quentin said that you have to,” Jackson said, noting that it was necessary for DiCaprio’s character, a plantation owner during the 1850s, to use the slur to reflect the time period.
Jackson continued, “Every time someone wants an example of overuse of the N-word, they go to Quentin — it’s unfair. He’s just telling the story and the characters do talk like that. When [12 Years a Slave director] Steve McQueen does it, it’s art. He’s an artiste. Quentin’s just a popcorn filmmaker.”
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