PC. Politically Correct. The debate as to whether or not us as people in 2016 are becoming too “politically correct” is something people are constantly discussing. Are we as people limiting ourselves too much, piling on constant fear that we are going to offend the person sat next to us on the tube, or are people finally finding their inner voices and beginning to stand up for what they believe in, and oppose the constant second hand oppression they receive on a daily basis?
To say that people are becoming too PC could be a case for approval, however surely allowing people to stand up for themselves and have their voices heard is a good thing. I think the controversy comes when comedians are involved in the PC mix. Comedians have been using minorities for years as the punchlines for jokes, whether it be your good old fashioned women in the kitchen jokes, (I know, so hilarious and definitely NOT uneducated/boring), or jokes based around race/sexuality/ability, there is no denying that these jokes are based around societal prejudice and stereotypes. Stereotypes are something that are easy to grasp onto for comedians as they’re fully formed ideas that people have of groups in society, meaning less explanation is needed from the comedian. However, basing a whole group of people based off of one stereotype is not only wrong, but uneducated and lazy. Not all people of colour eat chicken and say “GURL”, just like not all women wear make up and enjoy shopping. On the surface these problems feel small and inconsiderate, however when you’re the butt of the joke and your stereotype is perpetuated constantly in the media, is it so bad to want to say something to change this idea?
If we were to take this up a level, stereotypes of people of colour can take a more sinister turn, focusing on theft, drug abuse and gang culture, with comedians using this material purely for laughs, is itself laughable. Using people as the crux of the joke constantly demoralises people. Imagine watching a white, straight, rich, male comedian make a joke demoralising potentially poor people of colour, or less optimistic and opportunistic LGBTQIA people. It just kind of has an air about if of 100 years ago when rich white men would make offensive jokes about women or anyone who wasn’t rich, white and male, reeking of the hierarchical system that we find ourselves in of the privileged not accepting their privilege and pushing this blame onto the less fortunate.
The PC debate may have a point when people become meticulously anal (try not to laugh, apparently its a word adults use? who knew) about the rights of the air that’s blowing past you and how you just accidentally stepped on an ant and now apparently you’re an anti-peta, fur wearing masochist. A great example of this is the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ debate. Was the crackdown on the satirical magazine by the terrorist organisation a wild and potentially provoked attack, or was it something completely unprovoked and the world has just become ‘too PC’. There is no disputing that this was a horrendous attack, in which 12 people were killed in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris after the magazine depicted the prophet Mohammed in one of their issues, however as it is public and potentially common knowledge that Muslims do not depict the prophet at all and find pictures or drawings of him offensive, is it right for a popular satirical magazine to print pictures that they knew were going to be offensive? I think this is a very difficult debate to have, as they essentially do have the right to free speech, no matter how offensive it could be. Organisations have been doing this for decades, with hate groups across the world having public platforms for their words, such as the Westboro’ baptist church being given a vocal platform all across US and global media and TV. This free speech is very evident, and in no way am I saying the atrocious attacks that happened were actually ok or in any way “payback”, however knowing something is going to offend a large group of innocent and faith abiding people, but still posting it publicly in my eyes is naive and pointless, no matter how much you think controversy is going to sell issues.
Personally I think it falls down to opinion and the acknowledgement of knowing you’ve offended someone or upset them. If for you personally, you are offended, it is the responsibility of you to a) vocalise this if you feel it necessary, and b) for the offender to accept however unbelievable they feel this experience is, that they have offended the person. I think this is something people struggle with a lot, like they can accept they have offended someone however they won’t take responsibility for their words or actions. For example, with me there are certain words or phrases that I find ignorant and offensive, yet to a straight/cis person it wouldn’t be any bother. I have got to a point where I feel comfortable correcting people and calling them out on it in a mature manner, and the majority of people will accept that they have said something offensive and we move on. However when people begin to dispute the fact that they could’ve caused offence, I think this is where people begin to become tired of people being ‘PC’.
Offence is something that is personal, and for people to dispute that is wrong. We live in such a vivid and colourful society that for people to dispute what makes you feel like shit is completely wrong and no one should have to deal with that pressure or put down. Be proud enough to know that you can not only make yourself feel better by limiting the amount of potentially unknowing negativity you will receive, but also educate someone who most likely unknowingly said something that caused offence, hopefully stopping them from saying it again to somebody else. I think there definitely, despite comedians still using minorities as the focus of their routines, been a large shift in the education and maturity of comedians material, and comedians who use minorities to get a cheap laugh and essentially make money from are not widely appreciated and encouraged.
The PC debate is something that will definitely rage on for a long time due to people not accepting or acknowledging their privilege, therefore making it hard for them to empathise with people who may find the smallest of things difficult or offensive. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but I think we all have a responsibility to be allies for people who might have it harder than you, and to just somedays instead of putting on your 6 inch Louboutins, put on someone else’s shoes and live a day in their life and then think twice when you say things in your lives.