Don’t you hate how people get so offended by little things? Check and see which of the following would offend you if said in a conversation:
“His” (as opposed to “his/her”)
“Policeman” or “Garbage Man”
“Broad” (referring to a woman)
“Bum/Tramp” (as opposed to “homeless person”)
“Crazy” (as opposed to “mental illness”)
Most of us would agree that political correctness can be annoying. It has a way of taking the humanness out of conversation and replacing it with what appears to be hypersensitive technical talk. Like, what’s wrong with secretary? It’s a perfectly good word. Even in WWE the have stopped using the word “wrestlers” opting instead for “superstars.” They even edited out Bret Hart’s uttering the word “wrestler” on their reality show Tough Enough. This has more to do with branding than with being politically correct, but it’s the same kind of thing. Annoying!
However, I have to say that for a lot of politically correct terms, perhaps we’re whining a bit too loudly. Is it really that bad? Here’s why I say this:
Does it affect me? I remember in high school saying/thinking something like, “What’s wrong with the word handicapped?” I thought it was the better word used to avoid other ones like “cripple” or “retarded.” But I also remember years later coming to the realization that a man like myself who has no physical challenges has no reason to fight such a battle. If someone who is exceptionally short doesn’t like the term “dwarf,” why wouldn’t I honour that? Why would I care if I don’t use that term anymore? Saying “bum” never crossed my mind as being offensive, but if I was homeless, maybe I wouldn’t like it. Maybe it would hurt to hear it. Maybe my fellow human beings wouldn’t mind obliging.
The way things used to be. Honestly, this is insane. To say people are offended easily “nowadays” as opposed to, say, the 1950’s is laughable at best. In 1994 a 40-year-old woman told me that when she was a kid her Sunday school teacher told her that good Christian girls don’t wear red. Archie Bunker flushed the toilet on TV and it “broke the internet,” to borrow from today’s lingo. My parents’ generation still hate the word “sucks,” and I’m pretty sure their parents’ generation still hates the words “drag” and “make out.” I honestly don’t think things are all that different. We’re just offended by different things than we used to be.
Am I afraid of change? This one is tough to accept. When I was having a hard time adjusting to Microsoft’s new format for Word and Excel, a friend of mine told me I sounded like an old man. As I was working on a comeback in my brain a pesky little realization emerged instead: he was right. It’s easy to get stuck in our ways. Sometimes it’s more of a frustration with having to deal with a change in our vernacular than it is a frustration with political correctness.
The alternative. It gets annoying, but if it means being sensitive to others, it can’t be all that bad can it? I’d rather err on the side of too sensitive than on the side of callousness. And hey, some cultures struggle with starvation and war. I’m sure we in the cushy and comfy western world can put up with a little political correctness.
And all of this does have a relationship with social activism. It is because of many social movements in our history that has led to much of our changes in language. I’m a big fan of all four movies this week, but I think a good point was made by Kirk. Blood Diamond made a significant change in our world. I’m sure things got complicated and difficult for jewellers, but it’s nice to know that we have become more aware of the evil highlighted in this movie and, therefore, are willing to make a change.
Congratulations Blood Diamond. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Jennifer Connelly in Blood Diamond. I have yet to see her in a movie where she wasn’t awesome and didn’t make the movie great.
Best Actor: David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr in Selma. Big shout out, however, to both Leo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou.
Best Quote: “God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzle, not storms. Drip. Drip. Drip.” — Albert Finney as John Newton
And you know, the same kind of reasoning can be applied to this Oscar boycott. Officially, I think they should be boycotting Hollywood instead for not using non-whites enough in their movies rather than the focusing on the Academy Awards. However, consider this:
1) Last year it seemed to a lot of people that David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo got a big snub by not getting nominated. It may seem petty, but I’m sure you can relate. I mean, do you not feel, as I do, that Jim Carrey and Brad Pitt should have won Oscars long ago? Did you not find it a huge snub to Ben Affleck that Argo won best picture in 2013 yet he doesn’t even get a nomination as its director? Selma was an incredible movie with some unforgettable performances. If it was your community I’m sure it would mean more.
2) And now, a year later, we find ourselves, again, with a completely white list of actors/actresses being nominated, and this time there are so many deserving non-whites. I haven’t seen Creed yet, but from what I hear, Michael B. Jordan was robbed by not getting a nomination, yet his white co-star did. I did see Straight Outta Compton and I have to admit that having neither Jason Mitchell (playing Easy E) nor O’Shea Jackson (playing Ice Cube) got a nomination is pretty crazy. And there are a host of others: Mya Taylor in Tangerine, Phylicia Rashad in Creed, Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight, Qi Shu and Chen Chang in Assassin, etc. Sure I think the boycott is a bit misdirected, but let’s not go crazy. Non-whites have a strong point here. And good for them for standing up for themselves.