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Online, a certain face image of the character from the 2004 installment Crash Twinsanity has recently become a running gag related to various jokes about the racial slur "nigger" and its supposed destructive capabilities, using the image, which shows Cortex displaying a strange smile while the letter "N" on his head is in prominent focus, to imply its imminent use.
Origin of the image
The frame used for the N word meme comes from a particular scene in the game shown at 5:25 in the above video, wherein Cortex says that he envies the simple lifestyles of the local tribals.
N word meme
The first known exploitation of the scene in association with the N word online originated in an unidentified, possibly since-lost conversation on /v/ in early 2019 before being prominently reposted along with further variations on Know Your Meme by Artichoke, a user infamous for spamming dozens of grotesque and mean-spirited variations of the "Steveposting" meme among other notorious on-site activities. Artichoke posted six versions of the same frame, replacing the "N" on Cortex's head with "I", "G" (twice), "E" and "R" (with glowing eyes) in the subsequent ones to explicitly spell out the cursed word.
Not long after this incident, user GojiBob posted a heavily filtered version with the letter "A", thereby allowing the original sequence to be subverted with the less offensive, reappropriated variation of the slur, "nigga" (shown below, left). Several more prominent posts invoking the joke have since been made, including a "Black Cortex" edit which has subsequently been used in further posts such as demonstrated below, on the right.
A version based on Exodia the Forbidden One and using the "A" image instead of the "E" and "R" also garnered more than 100 positive votes.
On January 16, 2020, user Tincoln posted an image based on the newly revealed six-character second DLC pass of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the image inserted into the first slot, implying that subsequent additions will spell out the cursed word. This post quickly became more popular than any of the previous iterations.