The Washington Post

‘Glee’ actors star in shocking anti-‘R-word’ PSA

Screen grab from “Spread the Word to End the Word” YouTube PSA.

While Tuesday night’s “Glee” finale was fairly predictable and boring, a public service announcement that aired during the Fox show’s final 15 minutes was completely the opposite.

The “Not Acceptable” PSA, created by the “Spread the Word to End the Word”campaign, which aims to end the use of the term “retard, ” began with an African-American man saying, “It is not all right to call me a [N-word.]” Except the actor didn’t say “N-word”; he used the actual noun. Other actors then chimed in with other slurs associated with their race, religion or sexual orientation. Needless to say, it was pretty shocking to hear language like this during a teen-focused dramedy about a show choir.

“Glee” actors Jane Lynch and Lauren Potter appeared at the end of the PSA to say that it’s not acceptable to use the “R-word,” either to describe the intellectually disabled or in casual conversation, just as it’s not okay to use any other demeaning words. Potter is intellectually disabled, as was the sister of Lynch’s character, Sue Sylvester. The character Jean Sylvester, played by Robin Trocki, passed away on a recent episode of “Glee.”

In addition to airing on Fox, the PSA will be shown on “a majority of their cable channels and regional sports networks, MTV, USA Network, Oxygen Network and Turner networks including TNT, TBS, truTV and CNN,” according to the campaign’s Web site. is run by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International; the ad was previewed and approved by numerous groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and others. You can read the support statements here.

The debate over the R-word drew particular attention last year, when former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel apologized for using it at a private meeting in 2009. He pledged his support to the Web site behind the campaign and PSA.

What do you think of the PSA’s use of shocking language? Was it appropriate to show this ad during “Glee”? Watch the video, which, again, contains NSFW language, and let us know.


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