January 22nd, 2012


Under the rug.

I think it's great that we, as a culture, are moving forward with ideas about inclusiveness and tolerance, and that it's no longer the done thing to use derogative names and racial slurs. That's great. But I think we have a problem.

Because in the name of not offending anybody we seem to be trying to just sweep everything under the rug instead of actually dealing with it.

Is it really inclusive and tolerant when you can't even say the name of the group you're trying to include? Yes those names got charged because people used them as insults, but is the solution really an infinite series of new names? Maybe "nigger" has never been anything but a slur, but why on earth is "black" a charged term that I have to feel weird about using? And is it really inclusive and tolerant to just pretend that the past never happened at all? Huge chunks of our artistic heritage have been wiped away, because they're not PC anymore. Old cartoons, old books, old movies that use racist images and racist words, and we're not supposed to even admit they existed. Is that really the solution, to pretend all that never happened? And how far do we go? Warner Brothers currently seems to be pretending that Speedy Gonzales never existed, because the Mexican caricature isn't PC enough. Or something. But why erase a Mexican hero just because it includes a few outdated stereotypes? We are wiping out the good along with the bad. We're throwing the baby out with the bath water.

And we're not just doing it with the past, we're doing it right now with the present.

You know this last episode of My Little Pony showed Derpy Hooves, a wall-eyed pony who never can do anything right, and she spoke, with a kind of funny-sounding voice, and suddenly half the internet is up in arms, and you know what they want? They want her removed because she might be offensive to the mentally handicapped.

Here's what one of those handicapped people has to say about that:

"We mentally disabled people can fend for ourselves, I don’t need people like you trying to censor the fact that we exist just to keep from “offending” us.I am SICK AND TIRED of it!...

"We have feelings, and being treated overly nice and bubbled like this is just as bad as being treated badly. Either way, we are not being treated as equal people. It’s disgusting. I’m not special, I don’t need special treatment, I don’t need to be offended by seeing the fact that “oh hey we exist in the media”. It’s like there can’t be a mentally disabled person in anything without being offensive, unless they have some big heart of gold and act SUPER DUPER smart. It’s either “be important, or get the hell out, you little dumbasses."

"Yeah, I wasn’t too fond of her voice, but you know what? She’s still being treated like a normal pony, she was clearly allowed to help despite her problems. And that’s all I’ve wanted, all any of us in special ed wanted. To be treated like any other average person! And now people like you freak out and want to remove a character just because she’s a little stereotypical. If you want to do that, then remove ALL the characters in the show! Rainbow Dash has become a stereotyped tomboy who acts like an egotistical little asshole jock, Rarity is a valley girl who freaks out over her hair so she’s offensive to women, etc etc NEED I GO ON?"

And to that I say "Well said." Hollywood/major media is never going to get it "right". They're not about depicting the real world, they're about depicting a gigantic fairy tale full of extremes, and that includes extreme stereotyping. And sometimes they might cross the line into territory that offends people, but I'd rather see them crossing that line than pretending that anybody who's different doesn't exist at all.

I don't really have a call to action here. I don't think this is something we can do anything about, because it's about the subtle ways in which we think about other people. You can't legislate that, and it's hard to change it even in your own head, let alone in anybody else's. But I guess that's the one thing I can ask of you reading this. Think about it, before you have a knee-jerk "censor that, it's offensive" reaction. Is sweeping everything offensive under the rug really going to help?

P.S. I'm leaving this public and open to comment, but do please try to keep comments civil. I'm really irritable and easily upset lately, so I'm not in any place to deal with a lot of ranting on any side of this issue. I'll just have to delete whatever you say and close comments, if this gets out of hand.

This entry was originally posted at http://bladespark.dreamwidth.org/1348242.html.