News and Commentary

Tim Allen Trending On Twitter: Branded ‘Openly Racist’ For Past Comment

Just over a week out from the release of “Toy Story 4,” Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz Lightyear, is trending on Twitter, but not for the reason Disney would hope. The star of the conservative-leaning hit show “Last Man Standing” — now with Fox after ABC inexplicably dropped it — is being branded as a “racist” and “bigot” for a comment about the “N-word” from a 6-year-old interview.

As Twitchy explains, the whole thing started with Allen admitting that he doesn’t know much about Spades in a promotional interview with Tom Hanks ahead of the film’s release. “Tom Hanks is so cool I tested his knowledge of black culture,” tweeted media personality and “self-taught” journalist Xilla Valentine.

The post prompted one Twitterer to blast Allen as “openly racist.”

“Tim Allen is openly racist now and I love seeing him squirm here,” wrote Jeremy Bearimy, adding in a follow-up tweet that Allen wouldn’t like the idea of having “the black card.”

The comment started to stir up some attention, and confusion, online with most blasting Bearimy for appearing to conclude that Allen was “openly racist” because of the interview. In response, Bearimy wrote, “Normally I try not to call y’all stupid but the number of people here who think I’m calling Allen racist because of *this* video is truly alarming. America really gotta work on teaching reading comprehension.”

So what exactly is the supposed evidence that Allen is “openly racist”? The accusation appears to trace back to a comment Allen made about the “N-word” from six years ago. The Guardian reported in July 2013 (censored):

Comedian and actor Tim Allen is in a spot of bother this week. Specifically for telling the Tampa Bay Times that he should be able to say the n-word as much as he likes. “If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can ‘n****r’ be bad coming out of my mouth?” asked Allen. The comic, who claimed to use the word regularly in his standup, added that “[the phrase] ‘the n-word’ is worse to me than n****r.” African-American commentators politely but firmly disagreed. “Here’s a general rule of thumb to follow when using the n-word for white people,” said sociologist, author and radio host Michael Eric Dyson on MSNBC: “Never.”

While Allen’s critics made clear that they believe this comment is certifiable “proof” that he’s “openly racist,” others have come to the actor’s defense. Some argued that “context” matters. “I’m sorry but what he said maybe wrong, but the word isnt just racist, context is everything. You’d be racist for reading some uhh older books,” wrote one Allen defender. “Ok. And he’s racist how? When not used in a derogatory context, it’s not racist,” said another. Others pointed out that the interview is 6 years old and that Allen’s a comedian who works with “edgy” material. “I mean, to be fair he said it in his act as far back as the 80s. Hell, the article above is over 6 years old and he’d been doing it forever at that point. Not saying it’s a good thing, just saying edgy stuff has always been his thing,” wrote one defender. Others suggested that Allen’s being targeted because of his support for Trump. “Why don’t you just admit this is solely because he’s a Trump supporter you nutjobs,” blasted one defender.

Other Allen defenders have pointed to some of his recent actions, including philanthropic work with Disney, as evidence that he’s not some “hateful bigot”:

In 2017, despite six highly successful seasons for the sitcom, ABC abruptly canceled “Last Man Standing,” a decision that Allen said “stunned and blindsided” him. “At the time, ABC claimed that the surprise cancellation was due to costs and expensive licensing arrangements with the show’s owner, 20th Century-Fox TV, including the matter of Allen’s star salary which, after six seasons, would have to be re-negotiated,” John Nolte reported. “This explanation, however, made little sense”:

ABC was apparently in the exact same situation with another hit sitcom, Modern Family. Nevertheless, in this particular case, ABC worked out a deal with 20th Century-Fox TV and the sitcom’s stars in order to renew the popular series for two additional seasons. For obvious reasons, the only difference Last Man Standing fans see between the two shows is that Modern Family proudly leans to the political left and Last Man Standing has the temerity to present a conservative, Christian main character who lives in Middle America, supports Donald Trump and sometimes ridicules leftists.

In an interview with Norm Macdonald later that year Allen said he had “no idea” why ABC canceled the show but suggested it had something to do with its conservative lead character, Mike Baxter. “Archie Bunker pushed boundaries, but [actor] Carroll O’Connor was not that guy at all,” Allen told Macdonald. Baxter is “a version of that guy,” said Allen. “But there’s nothing more dangerous, especially in this climate, than a funny, likable conservative.”

The popular show was eventually revived by Fox.

Related: Tim Allen On The State Of Comedy: ‘It Is Really Like Dancing On The Thinnest Ice’