Because we have been getting so many tips about this “story,” which is not actually a story, but I’m already getting ahead of myself, it seems like we might as well address the Gwyneth Paltrow “Niggas in Paris” tweetroversy that “exploded” (not really) over the weekend. People keep asking if we know about this. Come on, guys. We know about this. We are stupid and lay and there are holes in the butts of our pajama bottoms, but we are professionals. Of course we know about this. I somehow managed to be on-line this weekend at the precise moment that Gwyneth posted her original tweet and immediately retweeted her. (Similarly, I don’t watch a lot of sports, but I happened to turn on the television back in 2003 about 30 seconds before the Steve Bartman Incident. I see stuff. Lightning crashes.) I retweeted her because it was funny. If you don’t know what she wrote, she wrote this: “Ni**as in paris for real @MrTeriusNash (the dream) tyty, beehigh” with a link to a photo of herself on stage (natch) at a Jay-Z and Kanye “Watch the Throne Tour” show in Paris. The tweet was stupid and misguided and tone deaf, as if Gwyneth Paltrow posts a different kind of tweet, but that’s about it. The ensuing backlash, while predictable, because what is Twitter if not an automated-backlash-generator, is pretty much a non-starter. For one thing: who cares? For a second thing: this hardly seems like some kind of hateful act of overt racism. It’s a lazy act of inattention, to be sure. But everyone seems to actually be missing the point. They’re mad that she tweeted the word “ni**a,” which, incidentally is not a word, and she defends herself by saying that this is the name of the song and so she was simply participating in popular culture’s dance of self-reference. She’s almost right! It is the name of the song, and there’s nothing wrong with a white person retyping the name of the song. If you have a problem with the name of the song itself, that’s its own problem that’s probably worth discussing, but how else is someone supposed to talk about it? “The hit single!” No. The ACTUAL problem with her tweet, which again is still not that big of a deal, but the part that people should be complaining about is the “for real.” That’s where things get sticky. Because which part does she mean is real? Like, we know that Tracy Morgan’s family knows what’s in her heart, and she definitely just meant that the Paris part of the song had come true because Apple’s god-uncle was performing in Paris and the song says Paris (she really is not much deeper than that, boys) but the “for real” could just as easily have been referring to the “ni**as” portion of the title. Eek! So, if the argument is that Gywneth Paltrow shouldn’t be allowed to have a Twitter account, and should seriously just try and keep her mouth shut whenever possible, I agree. But no one seems to be saying that. Why isn’t anyone saying that? Why are we nitpicking over the wrong parts of what is ultimately a self-aggrandizing tweet about her own appearance on stage? Why do I have to be the one to come to her defense? The world is upside-downy! Dogs and cats living together. Hippity-hoo blah your anti-Gwyneth argument shirt don’t fit you!

Comments (56)
  1. The REAL problem is that everybody got it wrong. She was actually talking about NINJAS in Paris. She was surrounded by them.

  2. I bet she pays someone to watch the throne for her.

  3. it’s like she almost ran over gabe on 9/11 or something.

  4. All the people who are complaining are just trying not to let her get into her zone.

  5. I’m just happy she wasn’t at a Lil B concert or the tweet would have been about eating ass.

  6. Videogum is racist. The word niggas gets mentioned and Spike Lee shows up in the You Might Also Like column.

  7. What she order? Filet of Sea Bass with a balsamic demi glace and braised chanterelles?

  8. If you are going to attend a rap music concert this summer, I highly suggest watching from backstage. Whenever I visit my dear friend Jay-Z on tour, usually in Paris or Barcelona, I make sure the green room is fitted with organic vegetables and local, artesianal cheeses. I tend to bring my own wine to the rap music concerts because sometimes it is rather difficult to get the right burgandy or sauvignon blanc if the venue’s sommelier has the day off. To save time, I often keep all of my rap music concert accoutrements in a hand-woven basket I picked up while visiting a craft fair in Tuscany. Uh oh, it’s my time to feed Blue Ivy her bottle of unicorn’s blood. Enjoy the show!

  9. Alex Vermitsky  |   Posted on Jun 5th, 2012 +3

    All of that is well and good, but I really hope everyone saw this.

  10. Why couldn’t she just sort of awkwardly mumble through that word while singing along like I do?

  11. I just feel bad for all the people who paid good money to see Kanye and Jay-z in concert and were forced to see Gwyneth Paltrow dancing awkwardly and generally getting in the way. What a moodkiller.

  12. This guy knows what you’re talking about. You’ve gotta own it.

    • WHICH, btw, Will Ferrell got away with his Robert Goulet character crooning the Notorious B.I.G. song ‘Big Poppa,’ hard R’s included, because he was straight up singing the song as the lyrics were written. he wasn’t doing any sort of play on words (other than hitting the R’s hard, I guess). Suffice it to say, Gwyneth Paltrow shouldn’t be trying out race-based humor any time soon.

  13. What the actual fuck…

    Before I start this rant, I’d like to ask you to please chill with the whole “EVERYBODY JUST RELAX” tone. Gwyneth Paltrow may not be wearing a card carrying member of the KKK but the subtle racism in her tweet is worth calling out because it is the small things that leads to more overt racism being accepted.
    Now we’re done with Racisim101…

    1) “Who cares”
    Plenty of people care. For some reason, black people have a problem with white people calling them niggas. It’s weird but whatever, we agreed at the last Black Gathering that we still aren’t cool with that so that is that.

    2) The pic wasn’t even of Jay Z and Kanye so she was just calling some black people ‘niggas’.

    3) She was not just quoting the song title, she was using the word niggas out of context like it’s her word to use, that is not acceptable or ~misguided. It’s ignorant and racist. She may not have intended to be racist but oop she was.

    4) Jay Z and Kanye West shouldn’t have had to censor their music for white people so that they don’t use that word. Jay Z has made it clear that if you are white and want to refer to the song just say ‘In Paris’. It’s not like he has a billion other songs about Paris, people will know what you are referring to. You can also use asterisks (the one thing Goop did right here) or “N In Paris” or MAYBE quote another lyric e.g. “that shit cray”. If you are just quoting the title then that’s fine but outside of that…excercise caution. It’s not that complicated jesu christu.

    5) “The ACTUAL problem with her tweet, which again is still not that big of a deal, but the part that people should be complaining about is the “for real.”
    A lot of people are criticising that last part…like that’s the main reason why she got the backlash. Where are you getting your backlash from?

    6) Gwyneth Paltrow is Beyonce’s only flaw.

    7) Jay Z is a genius for this.

    • I have to agree. As a reasonably well-educated person, she had to have known the minefield she was entering into when she used the n word as a white person (history of opression and all that), even if she was just retweeting something that an African-American friend of hers said.

    • Nope. You know what’s racist? Saying that there’s a word that one race can use and another can’t. Saying that Gwyneth can’t say the title of a song because of the color of her skin. Saying that ANYBODY can’t do ANYTHING because of the color of their skin. That’s discrimination, and it’s NEVER okay.

      • That’s not the issue. She could probably tweet “I really like that song Ni**as in Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West” and avoid censure. But she didn’t do that. She punned on the title, making it not just a song title. It’s a clear blunder that reasonably intelligent people would not make.

        • A reasonably intelligent person probably wouldn’t have said it, in order to steer clear of controversy. HOWEVER, she very clearly didn’t mean it in a malicious way, and used it to refer to Kanye and Jay-Z in the exact same manner that they refer to themselves. But she’s a white person, so she’s not supposed to do that. THAT is the part I don’t agree with. It is never okay to treat people differently based on race.

          • It may not be appropriate for me to step in here, and if so I do apologize, but I wanted to say that although I agree that she did not mean it maliciously, intent does not absolve someone from culpability from their actions.

          • Oil and vinegar, please.

          • Well, okay, I’ll upvote your point, but to say anyone should be able to say anything, we have to pretend that it feels perfectly comfortable to hear a white person say the word. And it doesn’t, quite (ex.: Tarantino’s character in Pulp Fiction). Words are social constructs and as such they are freighted with social meaning and tone beyond just their simple definitions, and furthermore that extra value can vary depending on context. GP has no malice here — she’s just caught up in how cool she is — she’s practically black! — but saying this word to the world instead of just in the context of joking with her good friend Jay-Z doesn’t quite work (I’ll grant her relationship with Jay-Z the benefit of the doubt and believe that they are this close). I think you are right in that if we accept that she can say this to Jay-Z (and honestly, thanks, Gwyneth, for being unselfconscious enough about it to let us imagine that), then obviously the power of the word is not absolute and one day we’ll all be able to say it and mean the same thing by it and be heard as meaning the same thing by it. Regardless of ethnicity. But we’re just not there yet.

            Maybe in 2015.

        • Ethan R. McDowell  |   Posted on Jun 5th, 2012 +12

          i don’t think anyone’s disputing that she’s a complete idiot.

      • I understand where you’re coming from, facetaco. As a white guy myself, though, not being able to use the n-word without social awkwardness kinda doesn’t really affect my day-to-day life that much. I think we can all agree that it’s a lot better than, for example, people of colour being disproportionately detained by stop-and-frisk programs.

      • I can’t tell if you’re serious……because caps…….and that’s not how the world……..okay.

      • If we accept that the playing field is decidedly not level (and we must, if we have a reasonable understanding of history), then it is not fair to say “Colorblindness starting now!” When I hear this kind of argument, I think of a child changing the rules in the middle of the game. It’s just cheating.

    • Yeah. I mean an act of innattention? Sure, she was actually, completely thoughtless. But black people are pretty much dealing with white people being thoughtless and “accidentally racist” all day, even the ones who don’t have the money to pay someone to mind them and their image. And GOOPY is like the queen of thoughtless, smug, “don’t you mean some white people” for six years running.

      And honestly who cares why she did it or how fast there was a backlas?. She was wrong, and if you’re pissed, you’re pissed. And she’s not being stoned to death, she’s Gwyneth Paltrow, she’ll live.

    • I totally agree.

      • Yeah I also want to stop by and, more than upvoting, say I agree and also with pickpocket below.

        To add, I think the most offensively ignorant part is saying “It”s the title of the song” as if to say she has no idea why people are upset.

    • Real question, does the “-ers” vs the “-as” ending make a difference? If she had said “Niggers in Paris,” then yes, uproar. But I think the fact that she clearly quoted the song title offers some absolution.

      I could be wrong, obviously. I’m not trying to be insensitive, I’m trying to become informed.

      • I don’t think it particulary matters how soft the r is pronounced, it’s still pretty hurtful.

        • I was thinking less about phonetics and more about slang, and intent.

          • Cool beans. I guess my opinion is that we (white people) have had our n-word privileges (spelling?) revoked because we went a little crazy with it in the past. It can be used in certain extraordinary circumstances, but this isn’t one of them.

          • It might be out of line for me to speak up here, so apologies in advance. I don’t think intent really matters, to be honest. I might not intend harm by saying that word, but because of pretty much everything (society and privilege and history etc.), it does cause harm. Unless you’re cool with that, just don’t say it, in any form.

  14. I’m not getting how this is a defense of Gwyneth Paltrow. I mean, the post basically says, “Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted something very stupid and deaf to its own racist import, but it’s not a big deal.” Well, it may or may not be a big deal, depending on your perspective, but that first part stands. There’s no reason to stick up for some random celebrity’s vapidity.

    (It might also be fair to point out that this blog routinely mocks her for having a bad personality, so it’s kind of dissonant to start to defend her when she tweets something clearly, though unintentionally, racist.)

    • The defense is in response to the ensuing backlash.

      • I dunno, when a white person (I’m assuming that’s what Gabe self-identifies as. If I’m wrong, please accept my apologies) makes this kind of arguement, it seems almost like a member of a privileged in-group telling the out-group to “Get a sense of humour!” or something equally Tosh.o-esque. Except replace “humour” with “perspective”.

        It just comes out kinda weird-sounding. Please don’t get mad at me!!

        • I see it as making the difference between a malicious comment and a very dumb comment. Both aren’t great, but ones definitely worse than the other.

          • Meh. It’s pretty obvious that people have subtly racist or insensitive thought patterns all the time, and the trick to life is learning to think before you speak/tweet them out your idiot hole. The dumbest thing you can do is get defensive and deny it.

            I don’t see much of a difference between this “don’t get overexcited” moment and Trump’s tortured logic from earlier in the week. Trump, for some stupid (racist) reason thought it was legitimate to suspect that our president might not be born in the U.S. Then this week he asserted that picking Arsenio proved that he wasn’t racist, because he is too dumb to know how racism works.

            Why is one outrageous but the other is overblown? They are both dumb white people who don’t get it.

          • So, the trick in life is to hide the racism better, so no one sees it, check ;)

            The difference between Trump and GOOP is a simple one though. Trump is campaigning on behalf of Mitt Romney. One of the Presidential Candidates has ties to someone claiming the President isn’t an American, but he’s not racist because “he has a black friend”. GOOP is a celebrity, who doesn’t seem to have anything to do with politics, so at the very least, her opinion is much less important. Trump SHOULD be dismissed as much as Gwyneth Paltrow, however, for SOME reason, he is now a big player in GOP politics. That makes a massive difference.

            Gwyneth was trying to be funny. Trump was trying to get the President of the United States removed from office. GOOP made a single tweet. Trump has been doing this BS for close to a year now, not to mention having other ‘problems’ with Obama, such as questioning his school records. So yes, there is a MASSIVE difference between a single stupid tweet and an active ongoing campaign to discredit the first African American President in US history. If nothing else … GOOP apologized, while Trump hasn’t. He just said “oh, but I’m not racist”. Also, HE said it … while this is someone who doesn’t represent GOOP saying “she did say she was sorry, but she probably didn’t mean it.”

            One is a case of someone with making a bad split second decision they regretted, the other is someone repeatedly making a caculated decision that they are trying to justify. If not for twitter, the GOOP controversy likely would never happen, unless someone overheard her making the tasteless joke “it’s like the song, but it’s real, because we actually are in Paris, get it?” and caught it on their phone. She probably would have, by the time it came to write a blog post about it, or write someone an email, realized how bad that would come across, and either say something better, or not include it. Trump, on the other hand, goes onto television, or goes in front of crowds of GOP donors, knowing beforehand what he is going to say. And worst of all … he’s bringing in money for the Republicans. That’s the worst … he is BENEFITTING from his hate speech. There really is not benefit for GOOP from what she said “best case scenario, someone might have throught she said something clever or witty”. And the harm of what she said is similarly minimal. It may lead some other people to feeling it’s okay to make bad jokes involving an offensive word … that could be bad, but then, that kind of influence is the same sort of argument that songs make people kill themselves and video games make people kill each other. GOOP isn’t going to make people become racist. However, Trump is repeatedly telling some fringe people “the President isn’t really the President” … which for someone crazy enough to try and kill the president is telling them “it’s ok, because he’s not really the President”. Extreme case, but if nothing else, the ammount of people that listen to Trump and don’t immediately dismiss it as ludicrous means his talk is much more influential than her single tweet.

          • Heh, but Trump can claim that it has nothing to do with race. “If the President’s father was Belgian, and it was well known that he frequently traveled back and forth to Europe, I’d be asking whether he was born in Belgium.” (Right now one of his people is reading that and saying yes! Good argument! That’s what we are saying from now on!)

            Mind you, it’s almost definitely not TRUE. People have a nasty habit of treating black people differently than they treat white people and this is almost definitely an instance of that. (Just like cops have a nasty habit of shooting unarmed black people, even when they themselves are black.) But, in Trump’s mind he could totally rationalize it. “It’s just politics. It was a fair criticism. It’s like saying Bush was a draft dodger. Remember that thing on 60 minutes? I was just pointing to a suspicious gap in the record.”

            Again, my assertion is that everyone really is racist, just like everyone is a sex maniac, glutton, liar, and thief. It’s your reptile brain in action. It’s not just about “hiding” it, it’s about keeping that shit in check. To be a good person you HAVE to be able to admit that to yourself, to be able to interrogate your own impulses and actions. Trump and Goop are both failing in the same way.

            Trump and birtherism really is essentially over – he’s NOT running around and repeating the assertion, he’s just making lame excuses about having done it. The news this week was just his “I picked Arsenio” defense which is trivial.

          • But Trump isn’t over. He’s still raising money for Romney. And Birtherism was ‘over’ about a year ago, and Trump had recently brought it up again. Most of the talk ended when the birth certificate dropped, but Trump has continued to alternate between “I don’t want to talk about it” and “I’m still not convinced”.

    • The defense is mostly just “we have a google alert for GOOP news, please stop sending us tips about this story, we know about it already”. It doesn’t really ‘defend’ her as much as explain why this isn’t a traditional GOOP bashing article, and instead a Duh Aficionado: Gwyneth doesn’t think before she says something.

  15. mimetic subversion doesn’t work when you aren’t a member of the inscribed group. this lady sucks.

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