I woke up this morning to a polarized Facebook feed over comments that Jerry Seinfeld made about young people being too "PC" and using words like "racism" and "sexism" without really knowing what they mean.
Being that I'm Facebook friends with hundreds of other comics, there were a lot of posts this morning with varying opinions on the matter.
Here's the audio of the comments he made. Take a listen for yourself.
The internet is ablaze with comments like:
"In other news, Jerry Seinfeld wants you to get off of his lawn."
"You always know the hopeless people because they are in their 50s and can't tell the difference between being PC and being a decent person. If you are a decent person you don't need political reasons to not hurt people."
First of all, there never was a more successful comic than Jerry whom was also clean and as politically correct in their comedy. If a comic so uncontroversial makes a comment about people being too PC and it's hurting comedy, maybe they might have a point?
Secondly, people freaking out about his comments are ironically proving his point. They're making the formal fallacy of lumping Seinfeld in a category of bigots complaining that people are offended by their racist and sexist comments. Seinfeld is none of those things. He's talking about how it affects the comedy world.
He's not looking for an excuse to tell offensive jokes. That's not what he does.
I'm really disheartened by our society and culture at this very moment. This incredible age of information that connects us more than ever before, has turned into the "Outrage Police" crawling the internet looking for things to be upset about.
Don't get me wrong, I'm fully supportive of people who are actually racist and sexist being "outed" and used as examples for what is not acceptable. Blatant discrimination based on race or sex shouldn't be tolerated. Human history is wrought with that kind of behavior and we do need to take a stand and make sure that is not how the world is run anymore.
However, this fucking witch hunt is getting ridiculous.
Through technology, we now have all of this power to connect with people across the world like never before. Instead of using this power for good, we only perpetuate misinformation, witch hunts, outrage, hate, anger, separation, and the occasional cat meme or motivational quote (that many times is attributed incorrectly or misquoted).
We've taken the ridiculousness of email forward propaganda from 10-15 years ago and applied that to the rapid information sharing of social media sites. Spreading bullshit, nonsense, misinformation, along with pictures of our food and vague statuses that are cries for attention to stroke our selfish agendas and narcissism.
If I post something and it gets more likes than you, I'm right and you're wrong.
People also want to blame the media for perpetuating these kinds of stories as well, and you would think that I would be one of them, but I'm not. The media only tells us what we want to hear. People loves "Outrage Police" stories. We love to find out whom the next victim is going to be, so that we can post it on our Facebook walls to get "likes" and attention. If you disagree, there's going to be a 100 comment thread argument. Whomever gets the most likes on their comments is the victor. Then we can unfriend and block each other.
Back to the point at hand, people are getting more politically correct. A lot of that is good. It shows that we're more aware and sensitive to oppressing people than we ever were in the past. We are striving towards a world that is free from prejudice and oppression. However, in the process, we're not always focused on the right things.
People being easily offended does hurt comedy. I'm not talking about comedy that expresses beliefs of racism and sexism. Comedy often times takes us to places that are uncomfortable, and a lot of times someone is the butt of a joke. The question isn't whether a joke is offensive, it's really a matter of context and motivation.
Is that person telling a racist joke that perpetuates stereotypes and promotes discrimination or oppression? Or are they making fun of it?
If George W. Bush were to make a racist joke, it's more than likely going to be offensive. Because the context of him making that joke comes from a place that he probably doesn't understand what it's like to be a minority, or to be discriminated against. Now, when comedian Ralphie May makes jokes about race, it's not to oppress anyone, it comes from a place of making fun of a situation or stereotype.
That was just a hypothetical, but my point is that it's easy to tell when someone is making a joke that perpetuates racist and sexist stereotypes and when someone is making fun of it. However, for some reason people have stopped wanting to make that distinction, and I don't understand why.
It's great that we're working towards a world where oppression is being attacked, but let's make sure that we're attacking the right things.
Being offended by jokes doesn't do anything to make the world a better place. So focus your energy on the things that do.
Volunteer for groups that actually work for real change in the world. If the only thing you can do is post on social media how upset you are about something someone said, then you're not a part of the solution. You're a part of the problem.