Snowflake Warnings

One of my most treasured memories is watching the late Frank Zappa tearing into that foul scold Tipper Gore during Congressional hearings.  Gore, you may remember, thought that rock music lyrics were eeeevil and caused kids to become mass murderers or Satanists or something, and Zappa just took her precious little thesis and trashed it with a wonderful mixture of scorn, opprobrium and educated analysis of her silly, nonsensical fears and creeping Puritanism.

I was taken back to those good times when reading this piece of utter bullshit:

Old favorites, outdated attitudes: Can entertainment expire?

They exist throughout society’s pop-culture canon, from movies to TV to music and beyond:  pieces of work that have withstood time’s passage but that contain actions, words and depictions about race, gender and sexual orientation that we now find questionable at best.
Whether it’s blackface minstrel routines from Bing Crosby’s “Holiday Inn,” Apu’s accent in “The Simpsons,” bullying scenes in “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the arguably rapey coercion of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Sixteen Candles” or the simplistically clunky gender interactions of “Mr. Mom,” Americans have amassed a catalog of entertainment across the decades that now raises a series of contentious but never-more-relevant questions:
What, exactly, do we do with this stuff today? Do we simply discard it? Give it a free pass as the product of a less-enlightened age? Or is there some way to both acknowledge its value yet still view it with a more critical eye?

I have a better idea.  Treat it all as entertainment.  And in the manner of Tipper Gore and her ilk, feel free to pepper the covers with all sorts of “parental advisories” or better still, my favorite all-purpose warning that one’s childish sensibilities may be offended by the contents thereof (number to increase with the frightfulness of the content):

  

At least a “10-” warning will announce that I’m about to really enjoy myself.

But for the love of Jupiter’s throbbing headache, leave the classics alone for us grownups to enjoy for the fabulous bits of entertainment they are.   Frankly, there’s absolutely fuck-all about the classics which should frighten anyone, whether it’s Mark Twain using the word “nigger” so freely in Huckleberry Finn  (which novel, lest we forget, did more to change attitudes about race than a dozen Jesse Jacksons) or Gary Cooper taking Claudette Colbert in hand in Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938):

At the end of the brilliant movie Thank You For Smoking (2006), there’s a scene where the foul Senator protagonist talks about going back into all the classic movies and digitally removing all traces of smoking, thereby “improving” them.  The man’s unctuous smugness coupled with his utter conviction is so creepy it makes your skin crawl.

And that’s what these pricks are talking about now.  And make no mistake, there’s absolutely no end to it.  If a treasured classic like Baby, It’s Cold Outside can be interpreted to containing “rapey coercion”, then let me assure you all of one thing: nothing is safe.

I have a simple solution to this nonsense:  every time some asshole indulges in some censorship dream like the above, the nearest person should horsewhip them.  Literally.  They get “triggered” by the suggestion of stalking in The Police’s Every Breath You Take ?  Well, I get triggered by their wanting to change the whole fucking world to accommodate their tender sensibilities.

Just remember:  this wonderful, sexy scene in Tom Jones is one day going to disappear forever because some fucking vegan got triggered.

I am getting so sick of people trying to tell me what I should or should not do, or what I may or may not eat, or what entertainment I may or may not enjoy, that there may well come a time when you’ll read about some snowflake getting flogged for trying to bowdlerize the lyrics of Run For Your Life.

And the flogger’s name will be mine.  Which reminds me:  I need to oil the old sjambok, just in case.

6 comments

  1. Some people just need to lighten up and get a life that doesn’t involve telling everyone ELSE what to do.

    Don’t like it? Don’t watch it. I think most of Mel Brook’s movies are hysterically (can I appropriate that word, lacking a source of hysteria as I do?) funny, especially Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I find Benny Hill unwatchable not because it’s offensive, but because I don’t find it funny, so I change the channel like an adult instead of shrieking like a harpy (appropriation again?) and insisting that no one ELSE watch it.

    You know what? If enough people find something TRULY offensive (actual Nazi propaganda for instance), and ignore it as I note above, it’ll go away, no government intervention (and tax expenses) involved.

    Bah, two days into the New Year and I’m already glad I made two resolutions: 1) not to drink any more 2) not to drink any less.

  2. I read Ted Anthony’s essay and I get that he’s suggesting that we should try to understand old content as it related to its time instead of banning it because it doesn’t conform to “modern” sensibilities. Kinda like when my elementary teacher assigned Huck Finn. That makes sense to me and I don’t think it’s a bad piece at all.

    1. Gwal,
      I have no issue with the essay; I take issue with the fact that it had to be written at all.

  3. I remember the great chemistry- and the great physical fights – between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. “Here’s a stick to beat the lovely lady” from the Quiet Man. Most everybody agrees that nothing extracurricular went on between them but I’m ever so jealous of the Duke because he got paid to spank that fine Irish butt.

  4. ‘Every breath you take’ is actually explicitly about stalking and being a possessive lover. That’s the word of the composer himself.

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