I really don't understand 'political correctness'. An immediate example is the whole Shashi Tharoor and the cattle-class non-issue. Now apparently the minister has apologised (for being witty?). Since much has already been said -- both the politically correct and incorrect -- I'll desist from adding more. However, I want to know: Who decides the correctness of things?
Who decided that 'slumdog' is appropriate description/definition of the slum dwellers in India? If there is a logic to that nomenclature, can we refer to the moneyed, jet-set as Billionaire Bitches?
Perhaps Mr Boyle's 'slumdog' reference was merely for the protagonist of his film and was not a description of the 61.8 million (2001 census figures) Indians who live in slums.
However, for all purposes, 'slumdogs' is now being used to describe all slum dwellers. Television Channel 7, for instance has been advertising this episode of it's series, The World's Strictest Parents with the words, "...when they see how the slumdogs live..." When did Channel 7 decide that people who live in slums are slumdogs? Are they being politically correct? Chic even?
One of my father's favourite Dad-always-says-this lines comes up whenever we are watching Sholay. It's the scene where dacoit Gabbar Singh kills the Thakur's family. If you see the movie (or remember it), while the directors show Gabbar killing all adults, he does not show the child being shot. The camera gives us a close-up of the gun, the boy's perplexed face and moves away. Each time that scene comes up, my Dad says, "See, that's sensitive. You NEVER show a child dying, it's in bad taste." At least my Dad seems to have his ideas clear, not so with everyone.
Recently a popular Aussie TV series, ABC's satirical programme, The Chasers War on Everything got into trouble for making jokes about terminally-ill children. In an episode that's a spoof on the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, one of the Chasers host visits a childrens' cancer ward and concludes the episode with, "Why go to any trouble, when they're only gonna die anyway".
I realise that Chasers is satirical, much like South Park is deliberately blasphemous about everything. But do we draw the line somewhere? As I wrote earlier, who decides what's politically (in)correct?
Often when discussing this issue, people roll their eyes and say, "Oh we get sensitive about everything. It's a joke, we should stop taking ourselves so seriously." To be honest, I do agree with them that at times we get unnecessarily sensitive about stupid things. Like Tharoor and the cattle class. (While slumdogs goes unchallenged) At other times though, I have serious doubts and do think that this particular sense of humour -- more thoughtless than insensitive -- is rather overrated.
Like last evening, when watching an episode of animated series American Dad -- described as "...satirical, usually directed at the United States Government, the media or current affairs" -- the alien character Roger says, "...we will make your Dad cry like an African woman who cries when all are her children are blown up with a scatter/cluster bomb." (not exact quote)
Was that funny or did I miss the point? And if it's funny, can someone please explain the joke and let me know who's it aimed at?
Photo credits: Stanford uni (Tharoor), Sydney Morning Herald (Chasers) & TV Shows on DVD (American Dad)