“N-Word” in an exciting new MDR movie! Will this sensational story spark a television scandal?


“N-Word” in an exciting new MDR movie! Will this sensational story spark a television scandal?

By Bjorn Strauss

likhamar – Anyone who sees this new crime movie on TV will notice one part in particular. Because in the dialogue, the word “N” appears quite naturally. Does this scene cause a racial scandal on public television?

Mike Bregan (Michel Maticevic, 52) and Annalina Gutknecht (Odin John, 35) investigate “Tod in Lauchhammer” in Lusatia. © MDR / Moovie / Steffen Junghans

“There are always those who belong, and there are always those who are out. Those who take it all and who lose everything” – introduces the sonorous voice of the new thriller ARD. Everything is drenched in sepia tones – this is how “Tod in der Lausitz” begins.

In four parts, “Krimi-Lausitz”, which is “currently one of the most exciting and futuristic places in Germany”, forms the center of a murder story. Because structural change, climate change and cultural change are imminent: against the backdrop of the environmental crisis, the phase-out of coal is as urgent as it is an economic and social challenge. For people in Lusatia, moving away from coal “means not only opportunity, but also the experience of loss.”

A thriller with social and political ambitions, with plenty of suspense and a great cast – long in advance. Directed by Till Franzen (49), who knows the area – has written some “Wolfsland crime novels”.

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The time the story takes place is no more random than the place of the event: the time period About the symbolic October 3.

“There’s all this nonsense going on now: n-word, antisocial, Berliner.”

The N-word is used by the chief of the Voigt Police Station (third from the left, top).

The N-word is used by the chief of the Voigt Police Station (third from the left, top). © MDR / Moovie / Steffen Junghans

The thriller is always alive with the inspectors involved and how they look for their killers – but also from “escorts” – like the character of the “village cop”. Almost at first he says “There’s all this nonsense going on now: N*word, antisocial people, Berliners.” (*TAG4 does not write the N-word at this point.) … Rewind, turn it louder, listen closely: Yes, that’s right, the N word is pronounced!

When I asked TAG24 if the quote would only be heard in the press preview or if it would be broadcast, the announcer responded quickly with a reason.

Up front, the use of the N-word was extensively and controversially discussed with the screenwriters, producers, and director of the series. The different points of view were evaluated very intensely. An MDR spokesperson said: “It was not an easy decision because we know that the word ‘in’ is clearly racist and hurts the feelings of a lot of people.”

The actors’ own experiences were used

Karl Briegand (Uwe Preuss, 61) says:

Karl Briegand (Uwe Preuss, 61) says: “Reading the scripts, which were written in a very thick atmosphere, I remembered my uncle, the party secretary of the lignite mine, but I had never visited him on his job. So I was curious…”© MDR/Moovie/ Steven Junghans

Why does the broadcaster still decide to use it?

In our society there is both individual and structural racism. While working on the series, the series’ producers spoke of, among other things, the varied experiences of actress Thelma Bobbing (41), who plays social worker Clara Jules, with everyday racism. Fiction serves, among other things, to depict social reality and to illustrate grievances. In this case, everyday racism is presented very realistically; appropriate attitudes and opinions are expressed through language.” So a technical trick…

The use of the N-word is “drastic and thus can be annoying to some”, but it “unfortunately reflects social reality”. “This scene shows how hurtful and disturbing everyday racism is and wants to show these existing grievances clearly.”

It is also clear: the dialogue must be viewed in the general context of the series. The number is “characterized by the use of the N-word”, the number is clearly established: the chief of the police station, Voigt, is “a clear opponent of the investigating couple” rather than a sympathetic figure. It becomes quite clear. “We made this very clear in the character’s structure and actions to the viewer,” MDR said in response.

But notice that the commissioner who listens to the “silly talk” does not react at all. This could have been solved more elegantly as a productive broadcaster.


The former “Polizeiruf 110” actor, Lukas Grigorovich, plays in the crime thriller Lauchhammer. © MDR / Moovie / Steffen Junghans

TV tip: The broadcast on ARTE is already planned for the 8th of September and will make the series accessible to the French audience. Here from September 1 in Media Library. The four parts will be shown on ARD starting September 28 at 8:15 p.m.

Cover photo: MDR / Moovie / Steffen Junghans

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