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Samuel L. Jackson Slams Joe Rogan’s Apology for Using N-Word, Defends Quentin Tarantino’s Use

"It needs to be an element of what the story is about. A story is context — but just to elicit a laugh? That’s wrong."

Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Rogan

Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Rogan

AP

Samuel L. Jackson has officially entered the Joe Rogan debate.

Following podcast host Rogan’s public apology for frequently using the N-word on-air, Jackson clarified why Rogan should be held accountable.

“He is saying nobody understood the context when he said it,” Jackson explained to The Times. “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.”

Rogan posted a five-minute Instagram video February 5 after a video compilation of him repeatedly saying the N-word went viral.

“I never used it to be racist,” Rogan said, calling his actions “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Jackson clarified what makes Rogan’s use of the slur unacceptable, compared to auteur and frequent Jackson collaborator Quentin Tarantino, who is known for including the word in scripts.

“It needs to be an element of what the story is about. A story is context — but just to elicit a laugh? That’s wrong,” Jackson said. “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 Steve McQueen does it [with ’12 Years a Slave’], it’s art. He’s an artiste. Quentin’s just a popcorn filmmaker.”

Jackson added, “While we were rehearsing ‘Django Unchained,’ Leo [DiCaprio] said, ‘I don’t know if I can say ‘n*****’ this many times.’ Me and Quentin said that you have to.”

This isn’t the first time Jackson has spoken out about Tarantino: The “Pulp Fiction” legend told Esquire in 2019 that it’s “bullshit” Tarantino’s scripts are held to a different standard.

“You can’t just tell a writer he can’t talk, write the words, put the words in the mouths of the people from their ethnicities, the way that they use their words,” Jackson said. “You cannot do that, because then it becomes an untruth; it’s not honest. It’s just not honest.”

The “Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” star additionally criticized the Academy for not including an Oscar category for most popular movie. “That’s what the business is about,” Jackson said. “All movies are valid. Some go to the cinema to be moved dearly. Some like superheroes. If somebody has more butts on seats it just means your audience is not as broad. There are people who have had successful careers but nobody can recite one line of their parts. I’m the guy who says shit that’s on a T-shirt.”

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