Gwyneth Paltrow Caught Up in “N—-s In Paris” Drama For RealJune 5th, 2012
By Dan Reagans
Gwyneth Paltrow, if you didn’t know, now you know: the tweets are watching. Feels like we’ve been down this road before, don’t it? We certainly have, but due to the fact that it’s my job to cover the happenings of music stars and the universe they live in, I must blast off into some commentary on the latest firestorm created by Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ubiquitous smash “N—-s In Paris.”
So here’s what got us here today. Over the weekend Paltrow, an Academy Award-winning actress, was wildly criticized for tweeting “Ni**as in paris for real” with an image of her on stage alongside Hov and Yeezy at their Watch the Throne concert in Paris. Clearly the moment was too priceless and ironic for Paltrow to pass up as the superstar rappers performed their world renowned hit 11 times in a row. It was truly an epic moment to be a part of no doubt, so it’s understandable that Paltrow — a very close friend of Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé — would get lost in moment and not think of the people who might misinterpret her words and assume she was actually calling the rappers the N-word.
Although I feel confident in assuming the tweet was sent without malicious intent, Pepper Potts, umm, Paltrow should have known better. The 39-year-old Hollywood star is a pretty smart woman (a graduate of the prestigious all girls private school The Spence School) so she should have a grasp on what is acceptable in today’s hyper-sensitive society — especially when it comes to race relations. While we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that it was a spontaneous tweet that she didn’t assess the repercussions of, it’s her response to the criticism that is troubling.
After seeing the negative reaction her words drew, Paltrow played the role of the cat that swallowed the canary. “Hold up. It’s the title of the song!” she tweeted in response to her critics. The “What did I do wrong?” response wasn’t cool. A simple “Hey guys I meant no harm there, was just caught in the moment and tweeted the title of the song” would have worked — for me at least. No press conference, no PR statement, just a simple, “my bad” and we could have moved on.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and I don’t think we’ll be moving on from this anytime soon. Like it or not, Jay-Z and Kanye West have given non-blacks the creative license to sing or tweet the N-word. That’s the bigger issue here. It’s the reason Katy Perry doesn’t feel awkward performing “Ninjas in Paris,” a self-edited rendition of the song, at her shows and countless non-Blacks sing unedited versions of the song where they feel comfortable doing it.
Clearly the success of this song has become a gift and a curse for urban culture. Everything that is so wrong about it (the use of a derogatory word that has pained many Blacks for centuries) makes it so right (an incredibly infectious record that finds two of the more influential rappers today defiantly throwing the middle finger to their naysayers as they attempt to reverse the power of a word that has plagued Blacks throughout history.)
The use of the N-word is just one of those things we won’t ever agree to agree on. Now that The Throne has opened this Pandora’s box, we’ll need to set appropriate guidelines for how non-Blacks are allowed to engage in the enjoyment of this song. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re non-Black you shouldn’t in any circumstance sing an unedited version of this song in the presence of Blacks. If you tweet or say the title, you need to make sure the context of said tweet or statement is appropriate and will not garner negative reaction. Just be considerate is the message here.