Why is everybody mad at Gwyneth Paltrow?

(Check out how many black friends I have!)

I’m not really a big fan of actress Gwyneth Paltrow.  I’m mostly ambivalent and neither like her nor hate her,  like a lot of other people.  She’s mainly insignificant to me unless her website Goop is recommending a cleanse that improves my health or she’s singing with Cee Lo on the top of a piano.  Gwyneth just doesn’t get me riled up.

Over the weekend though Gwyneth got herself in trouble when she attended Jay Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne tour in Paris.  Unless you live under a rock you are aware that the hip hop superstars have a song on their album titled, “Ni**as in Paris” which is one of the most popular tracks on Watch the Throne.

Well, when the producer The Dream tweeted a picture out of Gwyneth dancing on stage at the concert during the song, Gwyneth replied back, “Ni**as in paris for real.”

The backlash to the tweet was swift and forced Paltrow to follow up with, “Hold up.  It’s the title of the song.

Which leads me to the question, knowing that the largest number of consumers of hip hop are white was it okay for Jay Z and Kanye West to put the N word in one of their song titles?  They have to know that the mostly white audience would be singing along perhaps even saying the word when listening in private and  one has to wonder whether this can be confusing.

I don’t have a problem with the word generally (although it depends on the context) but I do think this might be one of those rare occasions where I’m going to have to side with Gwyneth.  While I don’t think it is okay for white people to say the N-word at me, about me, or even when singing along  to this track while standing next to me, I think the criticism of Gwyneth for this tweet is a way overblown.

It is the title of the song.  

Should she probably have used better twitter judgment since she is a high profile celebrity with millions of followers?  Absolutely.  But you can’t fault her to tweeting the title of the song when she isn’t the one who decided to use a racial slur in the first place.

The N-word and the permissions for usage are confusing given the fact that sometimes it’s used as a term of endearment within the black community.  If you swap out that word for any other derogatory term for any other group there is very little chance it makes it into a final track listing.

And maybe the reasoning for that is where our focus should be instead of being mad at an actress with a kid named after a citrus pome fruit.


Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/lalareina/ lalareina

    Is it really necessary for a feminist site to come to the defense of a rich white woman’s right to say the ‘n’ word? I mean really?

    • http://feministing.com/members/phaedre/ Phaedre


    • honeybee

      Can you explain why they shouldn’t?

      What does the fact that she is white or rich have to do with anything? Are all people not equal? Besides you realize the OP is black right?

  • http://feministing.com/members/kirby/ Faith Villanueva

    From what I understand, a lot of the negative response comes from the “for real” at the end of the tweet, which can be interpreted as referring directly to Jay-Z and Kanye with a racial slur (although asterisked), so I can see why the tweet was ambiguous (because it could also be interpreted as the song… For real in Paris).

    I definitely agree with you hat she needed to use better judgment!

    • honeybee

      How is “for real” a racial slur? They both use it as a lyric in their songs.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kristakeating/ Krista

    She didn’t tweet the name of the song, she captioned the twit pic. And even if she was tweeting the name of the song she could have censored the N word.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kristakeating/ Krista

    I should clarify by saying she should not have used the n word in any fashion. Censored or otherwise.

    • http://feministing.com/members/rhian/ rhian

      She did censor it, anyway.

  • http://feministing.com/members/phaedre/ Phaedre

    She posted that tweet to be “edgy” and “cool” and she wrote it in such a way to be controversial – it’s a double entendre, and she knows it. She’s not stupid and I think it’s pretty slimey to do the wide eyed innocent thing after the fact.