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After the dope smoking video, comes the racial slur. Boy-band One Direction’s reputation lies in tatters today after Louis Tomlinson was seen using the N-word in a controversial video.
The footage, captured as the band travelled to Lima, in Peru, for a performance, shows Louis Tomlinson sharing a joint with fellow bandmate Zayn Malik, whom he refers to as a “N*g” – a shortened form of the offensive N-word.
According to the Daily Mail, some One Direction fans, along with MPs and anti-racism campaigners, demanded apologies from the band. They were also determined to put pressure on Simon Cowell, the ultimate boss of One Direction, asking him to take action over the video. One fan even went so far as to burn her tickets for their up-coming show – a hot item considering the incredible demand for them around the world.
The video, filmed on Google Glass, shows Louis and Zayne being escorted by car to the Estadio Nacional for a performance in front of a 40 000 capacity crowd. The pair can be seen rolling up a joint and passing it around, joking that escorting police officers were so close to their vehicle, they should be able to “smell an illegal substance in there”.
“It’s green only, n*g,” says Louis.
In response, one One Direction follower wrote on Twitter: “Being an African American One Direction fan I do not appreciate Louis saying the word “n**”.”
Another wrote: “Worst part about the video was hearing Louis say “n**”. Really disappointed in Louis for saying “n**”. Lost the little respect I had for him.”
While many fans were also upset to see their favourite band indulging in drugs, most felt that the racial slur was worse.
“Only upsetting thing about the video was Louis say 'n**' Weed can be overlooked, but racial slurs cannot,” wrote one disappointed fan. Still, despite the backlash, many defended the band to the hilt.
The band have attracted further criticism from the gay and lesbian community for their casual use of the word “gay” in the video.
Louis and Zayn are heard discussing the merchandise that their fans pay so much money for.
Zayn describes One Direction’s official book as “boring crap” and “weird”, while Louis says it was “gay”.
To which Zayn replies: “Yeah and f****** really girly and just not cool.”
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner, warned that the band needed to be more careful about the language they used.
“For black or gay kids to hear these terms bandied about can be really hurtful.
“They should not be using words that have prejudiced connotations. It’s really important for pop stars to avoid language that is racist or homophobic. Their words have influence and impact.”
One Direction have yet to make a statement about the video. The band performed in Sunderland, in the UK, yesterday and made no apologies for their behaviour, asking only that there be “no more media attention”.