I really like public television. I don't say that in the "I am an intellectual snort, snort way" but in the "sometimes they just have the coolest stuff on" way with a giddy smile. Recently they had a program on the evolution of the family as seen on tv. They went back to "Father's Knows Best" to current shows. I think I have 2 blogs out of that one show. This one is about political correctness and how it has worked in the reverse of it's intent.
"All In the Family"....say that to anyone who has ever watched a sitcom from 1975 on, to TV Land, and you will get a reaction. The network then was brave and scared. They thought the show would last maybe 1 -2 shows, they hired extra operators for the influx of calls they thought they would get. The creators and actors were also unsure of the reaction...and years later funny enough it is the same. There are those that are so politically correct that they want to say, with that intellectual snort, that they would never watch that racist show. There are those who are so racist they embrace Archie for all the reasons he was created to dispel. There are those who love it because they get it, snort omitted. They get that Archie was the perfect vehicle to use those ugly words and say those things some people were thinking so that get this ...ready -- super radical...people could talk about them. Archie was a man who was losing his very essence...everything he believed to be true, everything he based his belief systems on, everything he thought "should be" turned out to be at every corner to be wrong. This had to be the case for so many people, for those of us who would like to keep evolving, it should still be the case. If you are never willing to think of your prejudices, your beliefs, then how are you ever ready to confront them and move forward? Archie Bunker allowed the network to create a show to be able to say those ugly words and much like the bogey man -- open the closet door and poof he is nothing but a myth.
Political correctness has led us to the point where we stop thinking now though. It is a good concept, after all words whether said in jest or seriousness, that make someone feel badly and are based on their skin color, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, intellectual capacity, appearance, etc....should not be said. That does not mean though that we need to go the other way without ever facing our issues which is kind of where we are. To me that is keeping us from moving forward...do I ever fear a gang of teenage boys on a subway?...sure because a gang of teenagers empowers them to do things one would never do alone...but that is based on their attitude not their ethnicity. We actually do not need to demean the accomplishments of a people in order to make things more "equal" but we need to understand that those accomplishments often came with moral, ethical wrongs that we hopefully have learned from. I am a history buff and I will not lessen the empires by dismissing their marches forward, that does not mean that the Romans, Greeks, Turks, British were "right" in their methods but their discoveries, their contributions can benefit all today. I do not support any organized religions but will respect your rights to do so, however, do not expect me to not share with you my observations on their flaws through the centuries based on what I have read in the bible, koran, and parts of the kabalah. There are many stories in these books that are of a vengeful, wrathful people who can cause havoc on anyone who does not ascribe to the same doctrine....and at the same time there are beautiful passages of forgiveness, reconciliation and love. Please do not censor me from having these discussions because asking a question is offensive ...it is not....it is only offensive when it is not a real question but an insult with a question mark at the end.
I am scared of the way the world seems to be moving toward ultra conservative movements (be they in Islamic countries or the Tea Party). They are empowered by the political correctness which they count on not to call them out as the insane, hate mongers they are. These conservative movements are based on the theory that people should only have no choices and no questions, they thrive on xenophobia which occurs when the "other" is unknown and unreachable. Since we can no longer say certain words, or we start to choose to think of history in terms of moral judgement, or are able to face our own uncertainties about others we have stopped moving toward integration and stepped often into uneducated segregation which is kind of why we needed political correctness to begin with. . Maybe we need the next step after political correctness and to revisit how we want to move back toward integration. I would rather be Edith who in her shrill voice and immense kindness touched all those who met her with a smile then to have Archie call me a Meathead and be right.
Edith Bunker: What's wrong, Archie?
Mike Stivic: It's just indigestion. It comes from eating his own words. ....All in the Family