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rockfan's avatar

With today’s PC culture, how did Randy Newman manage to escape controversy?

Asked by rockfan (13180points) June 1st, 2019 from iPhone

Randy Newman wrote a song called “Rednecks”, from the perspective of a southern redneck, expressing how much he hates the fact that Northerners look down on the south. In it, Randy Newman says the N word numerous times. It’s obviously satire.

While I’m sure the song caused controversy back in the day (unjustly), I’m surprised there hasn’t been recent controversy surrounding the song, especially with Randy Newman writing music for Pixar, and the rise of faux progressives getting mad about things that on the surface seem offensive, but disregarding the context of the offensive nature.

I can see the headlines now on CNN, “Disney Music composer, Randy Newman, gets backlash from old song with repeated N word”. Yet, the story would most likely leave out the context of what the song is actually about.

Randy Newman escaped a bullet.

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14 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

Anything that makes the South look bad, using the N-word and glorifying the confederacy, is good, if it enforces a strong negative stereotype.

Demosthenes's avatar

Randy Newman also wrote a song called “Short People” which contains the line “short people got no reason to live”.

Maybe in this case the context is truly understood? It’s asking a lot of ”#metoo”, but they have bigger fish to fry than someone who wrote satirical lyrics.

zenvelo's avatar

The Good Ol’ Boys album, which included Rednecks, was a complete sendup of Southern racism, while also pointing out the hypocrisy of Northern racism. Newman was able to use offensive terms because (a) it wasn’t considered as forbidden in the early 1970s, and (b) the album was widely reviewed, discussed, and critiqued.

Remember, there is a skit from the first season of Saturday Night Live where Richard Pryor was guest host, and in the skit the N word is used numerous times.

Irukandji's avatar

Here’s a radical interpretation: maybe the “PC culture” you are invoking isn’t as blunt, monolithic, and unthinking as your question presupposes.

rockfan's avatar

The PC culture got mad when Illhan Omar criticized money in politics about Israel (and said the same exact thing about Saudi Arabia) and they branded her as antisemitic. So yes, I think they can be very unthinking, especially about context.

zenvelo's avatar

@rockfan That wasn’t “the PC culture”; that was the right wing GOP/Netanyahu is our Israeli friend coalition.

rockfan's avatar

It’s not just the right wing, many centrist liberals believe she’s antisemitic as well.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes, the “criticism = bigotry” nonsense isn’t limited to one side of the aisle.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s handy to label opposition to Israeli policies as antisemitism. It works only in no nothing America.

KenELinguist's avatar

He’s a Dem! They can say anything! Plus it was tounge in cheek! And to which “n” word do we refer? Necrophilia? Nauseating? Niggardly? I’m bewildered! Furthermore, R.E. Lee was an outstanding human being and American! Tearing down his statue was one the saddest acts of ignorance I’ve EVER encountered! Fate bore the gentleman the wrong side of the “Mason-Dixon”, making him a Virginian first!

stanleybmanly's avatar

The REAL reason Randy Newman gets off Scott free is simple. It’s because his employment of the N word is understood by both his fans and those who despise his message for what it is. In other words, it is better for racists and bigots to ignore him than to draw attention to what he is saying! Satire is a very effective weapon of the left. The problem being the right is the refuge of the witless and frankly people too stupid to appreciate or even recognize sarcasm when they see it. These folks “don’t get it”, and stumble around bewildered that Newman “gets away with it”. The people depending on this stupidity certainly recognize it and tell the dummies the left is hypocritical for using the n word, and the dolts buy it, though they can’t spell hypocrite or tell you the difference between a hypocrite and a tumbleweed. They’re of a type who fail to appreciate the contradiction between “outstanding human being” and “defender of slavery”. And it is because his lyrics inevitably raise such issues as topics for discussion that the more adroit voices of the ignorant right avoid criticism altogether.

spezzatura's avatar

WHen he wrote the song Short People (have no reason to live) he was critized everywhere he went to perform. Children through things at hin, not realizing that the song was a satire criticizing social prejudice.

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owcglost's avatar

I am full of admiration for Randy N. His ability to be an obvious subversive but still make lots of money in a high profile role for Disney is amazing. I also think that his use of the n word in this song is full of sarcasm, irony and disgust. You can’t tell me that after listening this song you are more likely to think racism is okay than before your listened to it. The word may be disgusting but his use of the word in this context is, I believe, a positive. It’s too bad that the production of such a song would likely not be possible in today’s environment.

The n word should never to be used as a epitaph by anyone. However, its use in other contexts to tell a story or to provide a lesson is either okay or it is not. I don’t accept that the word can be used in other contexts by those to which it has historically been used to subjugate but not by others. To suggest that the acceptability of a word depends on the race of the person who speaks it is a form of apartheid. Apartheid like racism itself is wrong. Full stop.

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