The journalist on the other end of a now-famous exchange with Samuel L. Jackson is speaking out about an interview in which the Django Unchained star urged him to use the N-word. Last month when Jake Hamilton, a film journalist with Houston Fox affiliate KRIV-TV, began to ask Jackson a question about the use of the N-word in Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, the actor cut him off and refused to answer unless Hamilton said the full word.
“Have you ever said it? Try it! We’re not going to have this conversation unless you try it,” Jackson said. Hamilton declined and moved on to another question. The rather awkward-to-watch footage (which begins at the 13:55 mark below) went viral this week.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, the journalist revealed his thoughts on the exchange, saying he never considered using the full word, but did think about walking out of the room. “He’s an intimidating guy. I’ve talked to him once before for The Avengers and that interview went okay,” Hamilton said of Jackson. “But it’s one of those things where I have my own set of moral values, just like anybody else and I’m not going to compromise them for anyone, much less a celebrity.” He also revealed what his question would have been, had he been allowed to ask it.
“My question was going to be,” Hamilton said, “where is that line between that word being offensive and that word being art? What does it take for an actor to read a word like that on a script page and say ‘ok, I’ll say it.’”
Django, set in the South before the Civil War, has been criticized by Spike Lee for its use of the N-word, which is used more than 100 times in the film. Django has also had its share of defenders, including Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. The controversy has not diminished the film’s popularity among African American moviegoers, who have significantly contributed to the film’s strong box office performance.
Hamilton said some people have argued he was “empowering” the N-word by refusing to say it. “I get that and I understand what the argument is and a lot of people say that’s the point that Mr. Jackson was trying to prove,” Hamilton said. “But at the end of the day, I just — I don’t say it. You can make the argument that I’m making it worse by not saying it but so be it. I’m just not going to say the word.”