Awkward Tim Allen interview reignites accusations of racism


The Toy Story 4 publicity tour may have hit a speed bump — and it all kicked off thanks to an interview about a card game.

The film’s stars, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, sat down for a press junket interview with Global Grind entertainment reporter Xilla Valentine. Inspired by Hanks’s participation in a popular “Black Jeopardy!” skit for Saturday Night Live, Valentine challenged the actors to prove their “black cards” by answering a question about the card game spades.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: Tim Allen attends the Premiere of Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story 4" on June 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Tim Allen's past comments about a racist slur have resurfaced. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

While Hanks passed with flying colors with his references to seeing guys play whist in Oakland, Calif. — “Tom Hanks always has an invite to the cookout,” raved a commenter — Allen admitted that he wasn’t familiar with spades and joked about feeling left out of the conversation.

Valentine later shared a longer interview featuring Hanks and a more participatory Allen, and retweeted a note that the Last Man Standing star “isn’t as grouchy as he comes off.”

But Allen — whose political views have made him something of a blue-collar, conservative hero, though he’s clarified that he didn’t vote for Donald Trump — is getting criticized for his demeanor in the clip, which many claim has racial implications.

It might have all just amounted to some jokes at Allen’s expense. But the actor’s name started trending on Twitter on Wednesday when commenters cited a past interview in which the former Home Improvement star argued for his right to say the n-word.

Writer Scott Weinberg, who called Allen a “stupid f***ing bigot,” shared a screenshot from the comedian’s 2013 interview with the Tampa Bay Times. While that newspaper no longer has the interview online, it was referenced in a Daily Mail article shortly after it came out.

(Photo: Twitter)
(Photo: Twitter)

At the time, Allen insisted that the phrase “the n-word” was “worse” than the actual uncensored slur. He also defended celebrity chef Paula Deen for using the slur and expressed confusion over why white people can’t say it.

“I’ve had this argument on stage a million times. I do a movie with Martin Lawrence and pretty soon they’re referring to me, 'hey, my n-----’s up,’” he said. “So I’m the n----- if I’m around you guys but seven feet away, if I said n-----, it’s not right.”

Allen’s comments, which were slammed in 2013, have once again sparked outcry.

“After reading tweets about Tim Allen, I see why Trump is president,” read one comment. “People aren’t saying he’s a racist because he can’t play spades, they’re saying he’s racist because he’s said racist s*** in the past. How dense of a biscuit do you have to be to not understand that?”

In response, Allen’s fans and conservative commenters are coming to his defense and claiming that the negative attention is overblown.

Allen also courted controversy when he likened being a Republican in Hollywood to “1930s Germany” during a 2017 interview with Jimmy Kimmel. His sitcom, Last Man Standing, was subsequently canceled by ABC, then picked up by Fox.

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