Monday, February 1, 2016

Mike's Musings: Political Correctness, Oh My!

I was browsing the internet today and I came across an article about how John Cleese said political correctness is killing comedy.  Hollywood argues differently, with comedies getting raunchier by the day (and more profitable).

However, it got me thinking.  I had a discussion in one of my classes last semester about the possible need for labeling classes that dealt with "sensitive material."  I thought, what the hell?  Really?  Grow up!  Safe places on college campuses?  Give me a break.

Is free speech under attack?  Doubtful, but the ones who claim it is have only themselves to blame.  I think that it's not free speech that's under attack but a defense measure by people who hold unpopular opinions and are unhappy when they get criticized for them.

Social media is everywhere, and that's a bad thing if your a celebrity who doesn't watch what he says (just as Donald Sterling...who, by the way, deserved what he got).  So if your famous, and even if you aren't (like those girls in Phoenix who spelled out the "n" word in a picture), you have to be careful because it can explode in your face.

But I don't think it's necessarily political correctness that's gone haywire.  It's that people are sick and tired of internet trolls insulting them or reality TV stars/celebrities who say offensive things.  Like when Phil Robertson gave his charming little anecdote about a family of atheists who get attacked and raped by home invaders.  Not only is the story needlessly graphic, but it insinuates that anyone who doesn't believe in God is an amoral psychopath and has no concept of basic morality.  Even as someone who does believe in God, that's repulsive.  Or last year after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, where William Donahue of the Catholic League said that Charb was asking for it.

The idea of free speech being threatened on college campuses is scary.  College is about personal growth, and that's not going to happen if you don't challenge yourself and look at things in a new way.  If you go through college without dealing with provocative material, you didn't do it right.  I think that argument is less about controversial material and more about my generation being raised by helicopter parents and being surrounded by immature morons who accept Seth Rogen's riffs as truth to cover their own insecurities.

Bullying kind of ties into this as well.  I saw an internet meme where it suggested that instead of creating anti-bullying legislation, we should accept it as a way to arrange a school pecking order and instead teach kids how to stick up for themselves.  Not only is that contradictory, it won't work.  Speaking from experience, it doesn't work and teachers are held hostage by the "If I didn't see it, I can't do anything about it" rule.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't be able to say what they want to.  I'm just saying that you should have some common sense.  You can always say what you mean in a polite and diplomatic manner.  It's being an asshole that pisses people off.

And as for Cleese, well, anything goes in comedy.  And audiences love it.  You just have to make a joke out of it.  A joke will be funny if there's a reason why it's funny.  It won't be funny if you just point your finger and laugh.

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