Vail Valley Voices: Need a scorecard to keep up with what’s PC
Vail, CO, Colorado
With the change in White House residents, political correctness, race, language and what defines comedy are hot topics on talk shows.
Politics aside, it’s hard to deny that George W. Bush was a gold mine for late-night comics. Now, though, they are all lamenting the new administration, saying that Obama simply isn’t funny, and even if he was, his race makes him delicate ground on which to tread.
They are right, of course, about him not being funny. He’s so perfectly correct, so correctly perfect, so maddeningly void of foibles or quirky characteristics that he can downright bore the pants off you. From a comedy perspective, he’s a big fat yawn.
But it is the greater issue that worries me.
The advent of political correctness, or PC, made it impossible for Hollywood writers of the ’80s and ’90s. They could not write a villain who was black, Latino, Chinese, female, gay, lesbian or any other minority. The only acceptable targets were white, middle-class men. Creativity took a nose dive as minority groups picketed, marched and boycotted their little butts off against any film that had the audacity to imply that all members of their race, country of national origin, gender or sexual orientation were murderers, psychopaths, thieves, drug addicts or prostitutes because a writer dared to write one character who was.
We have come to a point where American life is all about watching our language and vocabulary and keeping up with the latest acceptable verbiage lest we insult unknown millions with an innocently meant, but outdated, phrase.
Public figures have always been fodder for comics, yet there is a very real concern that a slip of PC in the name of comedy post Jan. 20 could start a national race war. We can’t even distinguish anymore between a light-hearted joke and hate speech. I am not at all condoning ugliness, just the ability to see humor in life.
I wonder if Americans will ever again be allowed to laugh with and at themselves and each other without it being viewed as socially explosive.
Words are just words, and jokes are just jokes. It is that simple. We understood this in the ’70s. “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford and Son” and “Good Times” were more progressive 30 years ago than we are now.
If you say “Oriental” instead of “Asian,” you are a racist. If you say “stewardess” instead of “flight attendant,” you are sexist. When I was a boy in the early ’60s, common parlance included “colored people.” By the late ’60s, that was deemed a racial slur. You had to say “negro.” Then, “black.” Then, “African-American.” And now, the “in” term is “people of color.” I can’t help thinking, hmmm,
“colored people” … “people of color.” Same words in reverse order, but one is perfectly acceptable, and one is unforgivable bigoted. The world has indeed lost its mind.
And did the NAACP change its name to the National Assocation for the Advancement of People of Color when I wasn’t looking?
The O.J. trial fracas ” the original, not the revivals ” determined that we could no longer even use the word “nigger” in the context of reporting an exact quote made by someone in a court of law. Mark Furman’s testimony reduced the world’s news anchors to a group of 8-year-olds who were forced to use the phrase “the N word” because the actual word was just too horrible. Yes, it is an ugly word, but when we can’t even use it journalistically or in academic discussion, we are knuckling under to a sort of outlandish PC tyranny.
Jesse Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg are allowed to use it, but we’re told rappers really shouldn’t, and it is akin to a hate crime if uttered by a white person. You need a scorecard. It’s time to grow up.
We are reminded often that Mr. Obama is half black and half white. Yet, already, if you make a joke about him, you are racist, even if the joke is absent any reference to race or color. I hope we don’t let PC idiocy completely run away with our common sense over the next four years. If we are lucky, ridiculous and extremist political correctness will die a long overdue death.
David Dillon is an Eagle resident.