PC Police Brutality
This week the world lost a comedic legend, Don Rickles. Most articles about his legacy referred to him as an "equal opportunity offender," while one article called him an "anti-political correctness comedian."
There's not much evidence to support the claim that Rickles was "anti-political correctness." He certainly didn't mind touching on taboo subjects by playing with existing stereotypes. He was the consummate insult comic, which involves saying things that if said in any other situation would certainly be considered offensive. He could say things that from anyone else's mouth would be an insult, but the result would be that the "victim" of the insult would be laughing along with everyone else. It was magic and he wielded it brilliantly.
It may be fair to say that his humor does not jibe well with today's purveyors of political correctness. Could Don Rickles get away with his brand of humor in today's climate? Would he have avoided the internet outrage machine? Dave Chappelle can't do a new special without someone angrily pointing out one joke that doesn't adhere to their worldview.
Why is the internet used so often to express, sometimes over the top, anger? In the comedy world it is so common for the PC police to utilize the internet outrage machine to drag a comedian over a joke.
That's not to say that only the politically correct express outrage, fake and real, online. A lot of different people get on the internet to express outrage. To see who else uses the internet outrage machine just wait until Starbucks changes their Christmas cup design again, or all women are cast in another classic 80s movie, or a Black actor is suggested as the new Spider-man. Outrage is expressed from all belief systems.
In the world of comedy, the primary people to complain are those who use political correctness to guide them. Some of this is a good thing. Comedians want to make audiences laugh and a poorly worded or barely thought out joke can lose an audience.
The problem is not expressing dissent, but instead, how people express that dissent. It too often involves harassment or besmirching someone's character or aggressive threats to curb stomp someone.
That actually happened. When Joss Whedon had the Avengers trick Bruce Banner into Hulking out in "Age of Ultron" by telling him Black Widow needed help the internet lost its collective mind stating that it was casting women as damsels in distress. In actuality, Black Widow was fine in the scene. No one was portrayed as a damsel in distress. This didn't stop anyone, though, and someone actually tweeted to Whedon, "i'm going to curbstomp u until u admit that ur a misogynist who can't write (sic)"
This tweeter is allegedly someone on the right side of history. This person is working from the valid point that women shouldn't be portrayed in movies as weak people who need men to run to their rescue. The problem is she is fighting for political correctness in an excessively abusive fashion. This is PC Police Brutality.
Wouldn't being politically correct involve not threatening physical harm? Shouldn't the politically correct disavow all acts of bullying, which this legitimately is?
The culprit is the fundamental battle between comics who do comedy for activism and comics who are just cutting up like they did in the back of the classroom. The activists think the jokesters are trying to make a point while the jokesters are only trying to make a frivolous joke and wonder why the activists can't take one. Those who see the untruth in silly jokes can too often go on the attack to combat the potential issues that may come from a joke that isn't woke. The issue is that the response shapes out to be attacks to destroy a person, not to make a valid point.
This is not to claim that political correctness is wrong. Having an understanding of how subjugated groups are marginalized is a good thing. This is about how people speak truth to others. Comics in general are trying to speak truth, but how one speaks it makes the difference between a person learning and a person turning a deaf ear. The speaker can lose people if they are right but express it the wrong way or if they are flat out wrong and express it as if it is right. The larger issue is that no one learns anything. Though the point of political correctness is to make the world a better place, the aggressive approach used in policing it actually slows down progress. No one wins.
The stumbling block seems to be that people don't seem to realize that they can simply disagree. Accepting that someone can be in a different place fundamentally can slow down emotions from bubbling over which can make it easier to express dissent in an engaging way. Once someone is engaged and feels accepted they won't feel attacked or on the defense which makes it easier for them to hear the dissent . That's a big step forward for progress.
Or you can just hand them a Pepsi. That apparently solves all the problems.