Slightly less Random Ramblings

January 13, 2009

Political Correctness and the Death of Dialog

Filed under: political correctness, race, television — Robert Wicks @ 3:30 am

I was watching television and an old episode of The Jeffersons came on: Jenny’s Low. Jenny is a biracial girl, and the episode addresses her long lost brother, Allan. Allan, unlike Jenny, can “pass” for white. This has caused a great deal of jealousy in Jenny. I found it very interesting that a program, made in 1975, was much more frank in both addressing genuine racial issues, but was also considerably less politically correct than shows we see today. The show’s protagonist, George Jefferson, is not afraid at all to use the “n-word,” as it is usually referred to in polite company.

The show fearlessly addresses issues both of race and skin shade, which has long been an extremely important cultural phenomenon among blacks. That level of frankness is a much better way to improve relations both among and within races than the fear and avoidance commonly witnessed today. The risks the speak frankly, even controversially, have put The Jeffersons into the collective American consciousness in a way that more modern, PC programs simply cannot match. Over 30 years later, the issues of race and class brought up by shows such as The Jeffersons and All in the Family are as relevant as ever.

The years since that time have largely been marked by television which is far less risky. Television producers may claim the title of “controversial” through cheap trickery such as sex and violence, but few, if any, will actually address significant issues in an even handed way. They are perfectly willing to upset people who will never watch a program at all, but few are willing to challenge the audience itself. Fewer still are willing to challenge the powers that be. Political correctness is the order of the day, and we are all the worse for it.

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