Acting legend Charlton Heston once defined political correctness as “tyranny with manners.”
In the current cultural environment, political correctness puts forth the rationale that an ideological set of standards is being exercised in an effort to prevent offensive expression. However, the implementation of the inflexible liberal rules is sometimes at the expense of liberty and truth.
Enforcement of a politically correct rubric has become, in essence, a war on various aspects of free expression including language, writing, images, and music. The left nevertheless continues to expand its politically correct applications, despite the ramifications of the inhibition of speech and alteration of behavior.
The repercussions of an ever-expanding politically correct mindset are especially evident in Hollywood, where celebrities frequently set the trends and a collective public conscience follows in the famed footsteps.
Country music singer turned pop star Taylor Swift was recently condemned in social media circles for having included supposed politically incorrect images in the music video of her latest release, “Shake It Off.” The source of the controversy is a piece of footage in which Swift, donned with an array of gold chains, performs with backup dancers, some of whom are African-American.
Rapper Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future used his Twitter account to label Swift’s video “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful.” Other Twitter users followed suit, accusing Swift of racism.
Swift was apparently commenting visually via the music video on fellow pop singer Miley Cyrus. Some of Cyrus’ lyrics (“can’t stop, won’t stop”) are even included, with one of Swift's dancers simultaneously performing the twerking moves that Cyrus made famous.
Interestingly, a number of PC tentacles have been putting a stranglehold on, of all things, comedy.
In an apparent attempt to sound an alarm bell, Academy award nominee and character actor Gary Oldman, who recently played the role of Dreyfus in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” was outspoken on the subject of political correctness in Hollywood.
“[It’s] crap,” Oldman said. “Take a . . . joke [and get] over it.”
In an article penned for The Hollywood Reporter titled “How Political Correctness is Killing Comedy,” edgy comic Lisa Lampanelli pointed out that “comedy is like music, there are genres and styles for every taste.”
Lampanelli opined that “by being politically correct, you’re closing your mind to a different point of view. Which sounds a lot like prejudice. Which is definitely not politically correct. See what I just did there?”
In another comedy-related PC instance, while the public was still grieving over the loss of the legendary Robin Williams, numerous social media critics criticized elements of the tribute to Williams presented by fellow comedian and friend Billy Crystal, which was part of the Emmys telecast. A video montage of Williams’s humorous artistry aired during the broadcast, which included a live performance from two decades prior in which Williams was engaged in his trademark improvisation.
Borrowing an audience member’s scarf that he had fashioned into a hijab, Williams said in an impersonated female voice the following line: “Welcome to Iran. Help me.” As a consequence, the Emmys itself, the video footage of Williams, and even the tribute presenter Crystal became the subjects of racist accusations.
Politically correct adherents also weighed in on an Emmys sketch that featured one of the sitcom stars of “Modern Family,” Sofia Vergara. During the awards show skit, Vergara, who was dressed in a white form-fitting evening gown, stood on display atop a revolving platform and performed alongside the chairman of the Television Academy, Bruce Rosenblum, who was satirically commenting on the significance and depth of TV content.
The politically correct fallout commenced shortly after the Emmys aired. Katie Couric asked in a tweet, “Did anyone find that shtick somewhat offensive?” Twitter users in droves proceeded to chastise Vergara and the Academy for having objectified women.
Ironically, the extreme political correctness that stems from Hollywood is serving to create and reinforce a specious reality. A research study conducted by social psychologist Solomon Asch in the 1950s helps to shed some light on why political correctness may have such stalwart devotees, despite the dilemma that it presents for freedom of speech and the fullness of truth.
In his research, Asch delved into the issue of whether the power of social pressure could actually cause people to deny the truth. The study sought to determine if an individual’s own opinions could be so influenced by those in a majority group that he or she would yield to an obvious falsehood.
In Asch’s experiments, all of the participants were actors, with the exception of one, an individual who was the single authentic participant. Focus within the study centered on the responses of those single real participants.
Real participants were shown a card with a single line on it. They were then shown another card with three lines on it. When asked to say which line was the same length as the single line that appeared on the first card, the actors at times would purposely pick the wrong line.
As it turned out, the vast majority of the time when the actors picked the wrong answer, the real participants would literally change their answers and respond in the same way, even though the answer was manifestly wrong.
The same kind of groupthink that was seen in Asch’s research study may be becoming increasingly pronounced in today’s society, first initiated in Hollywood and then saturated across the pop culture and infused into the social media. The result is that in an increasingly severe manner the strong arm of a politically correct ideology is making social outcasts of those who refuse to conform.
Perhaps we have arrived at a time when Heston’s “tyranny with manners” has lost its “manners.”
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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