The New PC Wars
The spate of young (or youngish) people eager to denounce each other as racist is one of the more distressing trends of recent months. Far from being over the political correctness wars of the 1990s, a new generation steps forth to wage war against having ideas deemed offensive by the PC Police.
Controversy roiled the hipstersphere a few weeks back when the HBO show Girls encountered vociferous criticism for being too white. A writer for Jezebel noted “The world in which Hannah and her friends inhabit seems familiar, except for its complete lack of diversity.” Other jibes bounced around the blogs. In response, one of the show’s writers joked on Twitter “What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.”
Humor being the most devastating retort to the absurdities of political correctness, her critics redoubled their efforts, eventually forcing an apology.
We weren’t done there, however. Enter “Hipster Racism,” a catch-all definition for anything someone finds kind of funny that doesn’t hew to the liberal left’s definition of racial sensitivity.
For instance, the Fojol Bros. food truck was accused of being “callous opportunists banking off the ever profitable enterprise that is Western Orientalism, exploiting DC’s growing vanilla consumer base.” The sin committed by these “callous” thought criminals? They dared to wear turbans and mustaches while serving customers delicious, healthy food at a reasonable price. Quellehorreur!
Do you enjoy George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series? Either the books or the television show? Well, you’re probably just a knuckle-dragging hater of women who loves rape fantasies.
At least, that’s what Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown thinks:
“So why don’t we just cut to the chase, here? George R. R. Martin is creepy. He is creepy because he writes racist shit. He is creepy because he writes sexist shit. He is creepy, primarily, because of his TWENTY THOUSAND MILLION GRATUITOUS RAPE AND/OR MOLESTATION AND/OR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SCENES.”
(Shouting in original).
Just to be clear, if you set a series of novels in a medieval time period in which men and women are not equals then you are totally creepy, even if that material is a critique of such a time period. And if you make excuses for Martin? Well, you’re just a nerd whose opinions don’t count.
It’s not just food trucks and HBO writers coming in for criticism from the New Brownshirts. Old standbys like Shakespeare are in for a new round of criticism from our wizened youth.
In a piece entitled “Shakespeare, universal? No, it’s cultural imperialism,” Emer O’Toole argues—and you’ll never guess where this is going—that “Shakespeare is full of classism, sexism, racism and defunct social mores.” Worse, “Shakespeare was a powerful tool of empire, transported to foreign climes along with the doctrine of European cultural superiority.”
Haven’t we fought this battle before? Are we doomed to forever repeat the battles of our forefathers—a generation of silliness, a generation of backlash to the silliness, a generation of backlash to the backlash to the silliness—ad infinitum?
The most distressing aspect of this battle is the (lack of) age of the participants. These aren’t experienced combatants of the culture wars grinding their axes in the back of their hippie vans or on the tops of their Ivory Towers; these are young people who were just kids during the inaugural conflicts of the political correctness war.
Conservatives and libertarians thought that they had largely vanquished these foes—or at least banished them to a quiet corner of academia where they could fulminate in peace and fought by important groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
We were clearly wrong. The only question is how wrong. Are these isolated incidents? Or is a second iteration of the PC Wars upon us?