What Did Viggo Mortenson Say?

I’m trying to understand the Variety article “Will Viggo Mortensen’s Racial Slur Doom His Oscar Chances?” The controversy over Viggo Mortensen’s use of the N-word during a recent Q&A for his movie “Green Book” appears to be over, but can he and the film recover enough to emerge as a genuine awards contender? Use? Do […]

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What Did Viggo Mortenson Say?

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I’m trying to understand the Variety article “Will Viggo Mortensen’s Racial Slur Doom His Oscar Chances?” The controversy over Viggo Mortensen’s use of the N-word during a recent Q&A for his movie “Green Book” appears to be over, but can he and the film recover enough to emerge as a genuine awards contender? Use? Do they mean mention*? “I was attempting to make the point...

I’m trying to understand the Variety article “Will Viggo Mortensen’s Racial Slur Doom His Oscar Chances?”

The controversy over Viggo Mortensen’s use of the N-word during a recent Q&A for his movie “Green Book” appears to be over, but can he and the film recover enough to emerge as a genuine awards contender?

Use? Do they mean mention*?

“I was attempting to make the point that the extreme, dehumanizing ugliness that this word conjures, the hateful attitude behind it, has not disappeared just because white people generally no longer use it as a racist insult,” he wrote in a statement released after shocked tweets from the screening surfaced online.

It sounds as though, while talking about the way other people have used the word, he actually vocalized the syllables. That’s inadvisable these days, but nothing like actually hurling the epithet. I think the article ought to quote what he said and not force me to look it up.

Using racially charged language and particularly that slur has become a definitive line that, once crossed, is nearly impossible to come back from. Two top executives, Jonathan Friedland from Netflix and Amy Powell of Paramount Pictures, have been fired in the past five months for reportedly using the slur in the same manner as Mortensen — demonstratively, while discussing hate speech in the presence of people of color.

What a scary, repressive place Hollywood is! Such weak, craven people. Who cares what they choose to give awards to?

“The people that work with Viggo actually like him a lot, but he knows better. He’s been around long enough. He was obviously trying to make a statement in a conversation and it’s hard in this charged atmosphere to say what is forgivable and what is not,” one veteran film executive who is also an Oscar voter told Variety…

“I wouldn’t say at this point his chances [of winning the best actor Oscar] are hurt, because of how fast this went away, but don’t forget that the demographic within the Academy has changed, and is changing,” the executive said, referring to the record-breaking diversity among the 928 people invited to join the film academy this year….

Hollywood strains to deal with its longterm racial problems, and one of its remedies, enlarging the Academy, requires new efforts to imagine what might please those new members.

[T]he core lessons of the film [“Green Book”] are failing to resonate with some critics, who believe the film is tone deaf about the racial prejudices it seeks to illuminate and treats the historical mistreatment of black Americans with a glibness that’s inappropriate, finding humor where there is none.

Finding humor where there is none…. In the Era of That’s Not Funny, not only is your humor not funny, no humor could be funny. You didn’t just fail to find humor. There is no humor to find. But I think it’s funny that Hollywood is trying so hard to make movies on racial themes and simultaneously making it harder to do it just the right way and submitting its erstwhile art form to the judgment of people who are presumed to be predisposed to say that they are not doing it right.

Let me look up what Mortenson said. In a question and answer session after the screening of the movie, on the subject of racial progress, he said “For instance, no one says [the word] anymore.”

Please don’t write out the word in the comments. Humor me.

In the Era of That’s Not Funny, that’s the only humor we have — humoring people.

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* The “use-mention distinction.”

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