Comedians Revolt Against Political Correctness
British comedian Stephen Merchant, the mastermind behind the original version of The Office, has become the latest comedian to come out against the PC left. In a new interview with the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Merchant says that the language police are killing comedy with their overbearing rules on what can and cannot be said.
“This idea that we have to police ourselves, that we might say the wrong thing and upset someone or something. It’s not fun. It’s just not fun,” said Merchant. He surmised that if brought The Office to the BBC today, it would never make air. He noted that while entertainers once had to fear censorship coming from the right, the tables have turned. “Increasingly now it feels like it’s the liberal agenda that dictates what can and cannot be joked about.”
With that, Merchant joins a growing crowd of comedians who think the left is killing comedy by making a show of outrage whenever someone says the “wrong” thing. Jerry Seinfeld made headlines recently when he said that college campuses were terrible venues for comedy now that everyone was just waiting for something to get offended about. Others, including Chris Rock and Dennis Miller, have also spoken out against the left’s outrage culture.
What these comedians have found is that you can’t make people laugh when there is a large group looking for any hint of political incorrectness. And while some may argue that it’s more important to avoid hurting people’s feelings than it is to craft a comedy special, those people don’t understand that it’s not just about comedy. This is about freedom of speech and it’s about ensuring that all voices are heard. The left wants there to be only one appropriate speech code. Abide by these rules and everything is fine. No room for disagreement. Even if you don’t see eye to eye with everything, you must find ways to defend your position that adhere to the parameters.
And so we get “trigger warnings.” We get “unintentional racism.” We get legions of Twitter Twits going into apoplectic fury whenever someone dares to use the word “illegal” to describe someone who jumped the border fence. We get the flap about the Washington Redskins.
When you dictate the terms of the conversation, you can always win. Just go through and cast every possible counter-argument as racist/sexist/whatever-ist, and use the dead air to talk for as long as you want. This week a Pennsylvania newspaper announced they would no longer accept letters to the editor that argued against gay marriage. A perfect example of the way the left decides not only their own position on an issue but also which alternative positions are permitted.
What will happen to comedy in this landscape should be the least of our concerns.