Humour is the oxygen of life. It breathes energy into the daily grind that is work, commitments and modern living. In the dating game, a guy with a sense of humour is usually considered very sexy. And then along came political correctness, or PC. Watch as it hacks away at humour, bit by bit.
Political correctness really started to rear its ugly little head in the 1990s. I was at university at the time, and suddenly people were getting offended by words such as ‘chairman’ (women can be a chairperson too, of course!) and even ‘women’ (that’s womyn to you, you sexist bastard!). ‘Ba ba black sheep’ was blasted as a racist children’s rhyme, as were a host of other words and stories. One didn’t know what the hell to say! But it’s in recent time that the PC movement has really gone into overdrive. Now it’s led by shrill advocates known as social justice warriors (SJWs) who are hell-bent in making sure that no linguistic, sexual, historical or other wrong goes undefended. They scream, they shout, they harangue. For them, freedom of speech takes a backseat to saying the right thing.
Perhaps you can tell, but I detest SJWs. I want to smack their little smug, hysterical faces as hard as I can. I hate how they presume what is and is not ‘offensive’. And I especially resent how their PC movement is killing our ability to make fun of each other. The comedian Jerry Seinfeld spoke about this in an interview in which he mentioned how he had done a joke in which he said that people sweeping their index finger whilst using their smartphones looked like ‘gay French kings’. Do the movement yourself and you’ll see how funny that statement is. Yet Seinfeld spoke about how he could tell the mention of the word ‘gay’ as part of the joke was awkwardly met by the audience. He could feel that they were unsure of the joke, that perhaps it was somehow ‘wrong’. He was stunned and mocked it, saying how ridiculous being PC had made people. And he’s right.
We gay men are on the ‘right’ side, of course. Make fun of us, and you’ll be instantly branded as a homophobic bigot. So, that means we’re safe, right? But we’re safe from what? From being offended? Or is it stereotyping that is the crux issue? People might argue that Seinfeld’s reference to gay French kings is due to the stereotype that gay men are limp-wristed and, therefore, could be considered offensive. Yes, but why are you being offended on my behalf? I’m a gay man and I find his use of stereotype to be smart observation and funny in that context. Are stereotypes not often funny precisely because there may be some truth to them? Humour is by its very essence about generalisations and broad strokes and, yes, even being offensive. So what? And don’t forget: if you can’t make fun of me, then it’s likely that I can’t make fun of you. We are both straightjacketed. And humour is the loser.
Gay men can be very funny. Now there’s a stereotype! Just watch any good drag show and the zingers come at you thick and fast and damn funny. Some of the most wickedly witty and funny stand-up comedians today are gay men. Yet in saying just that I have excluded lesbians, women generally, straight men, possibly bisexual men and heaven only knows how many other categories of people, minorities and left-behinds. Can you see how easy it is to be ‘excluding’ or otherwise ‘elitist,’ even discriminatory? That’s what irks me the most about PC – it’s the constant having to second-guess oneself. Since when is humour, let alone farce or satire, about having to second-guess every joke or humorous situation?
The best-selling crime author P.D. James had this to say about the PC movement: “I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.” I concur with her. Political correctness may come from a good place and have the best of intentions, but it has a chilling effect on discourse, debate and our ability to joke and to make fun. Of course certain humour can be offensive. We all know what those sensitive topics are. But does that mean we shouldn’t be afforded the right whether or not to laugh at it? Being easily offended is childish. It’s also highly subjective, which is why picking and choosing what is and what is not offensive is silly, even dangerous. And there’s no fun in it anyway!
Being PC is about being petulant, overly sensitive and, frankly, bloody boring. It turns most people into a victim and picks and chooses what it considers ‘acceptable’ fodder for ridicule and humour. And, yes, PC is an ‘it’. It has morphed and grown into the social equivalent of The Blob. It needs to be stopped. And we shouldn’t encourage it. It is a humourless, dour monster that is killing our ability to laugh at others – and ourselves. It’s your worst date.