| Excessive Political Correctness
In my article Political Correctness (PC), the case was made that PC is double-edged.
It can be helpful
or not, changing society for the better or entrenching elitist systems.
This article continues to examine this duality of PC and focuses on how
excessive PC can inadvertently be hilarious or can kill comedy.
How PC Kills Comedy
UK recruiter was stunned when her job advert for 'reliable' and 'hard-working'
applicants was rejected by the job centre as it could be offensive to
unreliable and lazy people.
USA school renamed its Easter eggs 'spring spheres' to avoid
causing offence to people who did not celebrate Easter.
USA schools now have a 'holiday tree' at Christmas, rather than
a Christmas tree.
UK council has banned the term 'brainstorming' – and replaced it with 'thought
showers', as local lawmakers thought the former term may offend epileptics.
- Short people should rather be called 'vertically challenged'.
and Safety is often an area where hysterical PC happens, like banning children's sack races. Maybe one day
we will be advised not to breathe - as air pollution could kill us?
(1) My notes from the legendary John Cleese in discussion with Bill Maher (here, posted
11 January 2017, accessed 23 June 2017; and here, posted 25 November 2014, accessed 28 September 2017):-
Brooks, one of Hollywood's funniest film-makers, has told the BBC political
correctness is "the death of comedy". He said Blazing Saddles, his Western spoof about a black
sheriff in a racist town, could never be made today. "It's OK not to hurt
the feelings of various tribes and groups," he said. "However, it's
not good for comedy. "Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. It's the
lecherous little elf whispering in the king's ear, telling the truth about
human behaviour." (BBC,
posted and accessed 21 September 2017)
is about things not going right, people not behaving appropriately or
intelligently. [So, PC, which is meant to make things perfect, kills
- Political correctness (PC) is a good idea where
it shields meanness to those who can’t look after themselves very well. PC starts
as a half-decent idea, and then it goes completely wrong, it’s taken to an
- Any criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel.
However, the whole point of comedy is that all comedy is critical. If you can’t
criticise particular people or groups, then humour is gone, and along with it
any sense of proportion. Then you’re living in 1984 [i.e. a dystopian novel about a dictatorial superstate that watches
everything you do, is extremely controlling, persecutes individualism and
- He argues for less PC. Offended people can choose to
- Cleese does not at
all subscribe to the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of
uncomfortable emotion. Cleese cites Robin Skynner: “If people can't control
their own emotions, then they
have to start trying to control
other people's behaviour.”
- When you’re round supersensitive people,
you can’t relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what will upset
- Cleese quotes an ex-BBC chairman who said there may be people you
wish to offend.
- However, if you make jokes about people who are going to kill
you (e.g. Muslims), there’s a tendency to hold back a little.
(3) "Imagine if the most brilliant comedians in history were
working today. They’d never stop apologizing. Charlie Chaplin would have to
apologize to all the homeless people he belittled with his Little Tramp
character. W.C. Fields and Dean Martin would both have to apologize to
alcoholics. The Marx brothers would have to apologize to Italians, mutes and
uptight British ladies. Comedy has been around for a long, long time, and there
have been a lot of impolite, unpleasant and jaw-droppingly politically
incorrect jokes." (Gilbert Gottfried)
(4) "Most comedy would go out of the window, if political
correctness really took hold. There'd be absolutely nothing that you could make
fun of. And that would never do, would it?" (June Whitfield in a Carry On documentary)
Political Correctness [PC1]
Blame or Empowerment? [PC2]
Skirting Around [PC3]
Dress Codes [PC4]