Yesterday, as you probably already know, we lost a legend of the comedy world. Joan Rivers, the guest host of the tonight show and purveyor of all things fashion on the E Channel, passed away last night after a routine procedure went terribly wrong last Thursday. She was put under general anesthesia and when she didn’t regain consciousness, she spent a week in the hospital before finally succumbing to brain death. Joan Rivers was a pioneer for women, especially in the entertainment industry, and her comedy will be missed. One thing though, above all else, set Joan Rivers apart from her peers – she never cared about being “PC,” or politically correct, and she never apologized for making an off-color joke.
The political correctness movement has always been around in one form or another, and believe it or not, it was Chairman Mao who originally coined the phrase “political correctness.” In recent history, though, it was in the late 1980s when the term “PC” really began to take on significant meaning. The world was just beginning to realize how serious the AIDS epidemic was, and homosexuals were thrust into the spotlight. Suddenly, an entire country had to learn what terms were acceptable and what terms were offensive, and the phrase “politically correct” got thrown around quite a bit. Joan Rivers, of course, was in her heyday during this era, and despite the country becoming more and more sensitive since then, Joan never kowtowed to special interest groups when a joke upset someone. I think it’s clear that she knew that comics, more so than any other group, had a responsibility not to be politically correct. Comedians and comediennes are society’s truth tellers, and through the jokes they perform we are able to catch a quick glimpse of our culture naked in the mirror – the societal equivalent of a celebrity phone hack, if you will. Comics make jokes, yes, but ultimately they call us out on our mistakes and they pick at our foibles. This is the sacred responsibility of the comedian, and a duty that people like Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and Joan Rivers performed without worry of who might be offended.
These days, comedians apologize for their humor on a regular basis. Does anyone else realize how ridiculously absurd this is? Comics, the people who tell jokes for a living and who keep the rest of us honest, have now taken to apologizing for their humor when someone gets offended. Joan Rivers, on the other hand, made an Obama joke right before she died, and refused to apologize. In fact, she never apologized for any joke she ever told, and that’s exactly what a comedian should do. I firmly believe that if any comic ever apologizes for any bit of humor, then they can no longer call themselves a comedian. Fortunately, there are still a few humorists out there who refuse to bend to public outcry – Anthony Jeselnik comes to mind.
The “PC” movement has officially become a Frankenstein’s monster of a problem and taken on a life of its own. Public figures and lowly bloggers alike are now apologizing profusely the instant they upset even one person. If you don’t believe me, just do a quick Google search for “apologizes.” The results will astound you – like how Inside Politics’ John King apologized to his audience for quoting a blogger who accused Speaker John Boehner of not having the “balls” to impeach Obama. King’s excuse was that “balls” wasn’t “morning TV language.” He then went on to show news about people dying all over the world. Does anyone else see how incredible backwards things have become?
If you still aren’t convinced, I want to share with you a few examples of just how crazy things have gotten out here in the real world. A school in Seattle renamed “Easter Eggs” to “Spring Spheres,” because they feared offending anyone who didn’t celebrate Easter. What’s next? “Holiday Handovers” instead of Christmas Gifts? In the UK, a local council banned use of the word “brainstorm,” for fear of offending epileptics. Instead, the term “thought shower” was suggested for use. Not only did epilepsy charities say this was overkill, but it occurs to me that anyone who has a “shower” of ideas in their morning meeting instead of a “storm,” is going to find themselves taking a “shower” in the “storm” drain, once they are terminated. Infinitely dumb, for sure, but here is the most insane one, and my personal favorite. A job recruiter placing an ad for “reliable, hard-working” people was told she could not use those terms because it might be offensive to “unreliable” people. There are so many things wrong with this I’m not even sure where to begin, but I think there is one thing that trumps all other concerns. Anyone who is actually unreliable enough to be offended by the terms “reliable” and “hard-working,” wouldn’t have enough follow-through to actually complain about the use of the word “reliable” in the ad!! It’s absolutely moronic, but, unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more common.
It is time to end this politically correct movement, once and for all. People are smarter than we give them credit for, but with all these “PC” rules and regulations, no one has any idea what to say any more. Asian? Asian American? African American? What, you’re from Jamaica? Uh, Jamaican American? Jamerican? Bah, ill just not speak any more, it’s easier. We need to let people say what they want, and then not get offended like someone just spit on our grandmother if they get it wrong. There’s a much better chance of someone not walking away upset if they are told “oh it’s actually little person instead of midget now, no big deal. Haha, get it?” instead of, “Excuse me! I’m a little person, not a midget! What, you think just because I’m small I cant be offended? Well, here’s a punch in the nuts!” Here’s the worst thing about the entire “PC” movement, though. Almost every single person I’ve talked to admits that they can tell when someone is trying to offend them, and when they’ve simply made a mistake. So, if that’s the case, then here’s an ingenious plan – don’t get upset when you know someone has simply made a mistake!! We need to change the direction of this runway train right now because if we don’t, then within 20 years we will all be greeting each other with, “salutations fellow human,” and calling someone’s race their “genetically produced physical attributes based on lineage,” and that sounds a lot like a 70s science fiction novel. Soylent Green is people!!
Education before outcry.