Political correctness gone too far
TRAVERSE CITY — Some people love to sneer at examples of what they deem to be “political correctness.” My usual reaction is to wonder what’s wrong with them.
Let’s use the N-word as an example. How is it not a good thing that most people don’t use that term anymore? Or how about some of the truly horrible terms people used to use in reference to people with mental or physical disabilities? Would the people who snort dismissively about the “PC Police” prefer they were still used?
There are hundreds of examples of words, terms and practices that used to be acceptable but aren’t anymore. What’s labeled political correctness is usually just being kind and considerate, and I fail to see anything wrong with that. Being “PC” has made us a more aware, gentler and more inclusive nation. I call that progress.
But not in every instance. Sometimes, yeah, political correctness goes too far, just like everything else. We have two examples before us right now in the mini-debate over the silly 1944 Christmas tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and the TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
A radio station in Cleveland recently banned “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from its holiday playlists after listeners supposedly complained. (I say supposedly because I used to do a little radio and recognize the smell of a publicity stunt. Nothing boosts ratings like a manufactured controversy.) A handful of other stations across the nation are apparently following suit.
The main gripe seems to be that the song promotes date rape and is therefore inappropriate in the #MeToo era.
Whoa, what? I’m all for the #MeToo movement, which has empowered women to step forward, speak out and fight back — all great things, obviously.
But are we listening to the same tune? From the million or so times I’ve heard it, the song seems to be about a mildly obnoxious guy who won’t take no for an answer and a woman who doesn’t want to give no as an answer. She wants to stay. He wants her to stay. So they’re looking for an excuse to make it happen and, well … baby, it’s cooooold ouuuutsiiiiiide. (I’m singing while I type this, and you can’t stop me).
Did I miss the parts about how he was drugging and raping her? Maybe I’m a bad person, but I’m just not offended by this song. What does offend me is why it’s considered a Christmas song in the first place since there’s no mention of Christmas in it. (Someone please explain.)
Then there’s Rudolph. The Huffington Post posted a video calling the show “seriously problematic” for the bullying Rudolph endures from Santa, the other reindeer (those jerks) and even Comet the reindeer coach. I suspect the video was intended to be satirical, in that it calls Rudolph “the marginalized reindeer,” which is a pretty funny line.
If they were being serious, well, they’re welcome to their opinion, I guess, but it would be pretty hard to make a parable about the awfulness of bullying without actually depicting the bullying, wouldn’t it?
Maybe I need sensitivity training but when I watch Rudolph (which I still do), I’m not wondering why a 50-year-old TV special doesn’t conform to modern mores. I’m focused on bigger mysteries.
Like how is it, exactly, that Bumbles bounce?
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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.