A person can be offended by anything; a comment, a joke, a film, a song, a painting, an advert, an idea, even a piece of clothing. The reasoning behind the offence can also be vast from political to personal but no matter the rationale, being offended is part and parcel of free speech, in fact liking or disliking something and then airing your opinion is an indication of a free society. Today it’s perceived that offence or being offended is trivial and people seem to detach being offended from having a point of view even though being offended is an opinion and opinions are what separate a democratic society from a fascist one.
These days, every time a person or a group of people outline their grievances about something, another group of people are quick to label them “easily offended”, the perception being that we’re living in an overly-offended period of time, that any so-called “little” thing is pounced upon, things that would never have been deemed offensive only a couple of decades ago. This is inaccurate and I cannot believe that people older than 30 have that opinion, they should remember that these reactions or objections are not too dissimilar to those made in the late twentieth century.
In the distant, pre-internet past, if someone was offended by a song lyric for instance, what could they do but tell their friends? And what would become of that? Their thoughts would be confined to a small set of people and their opinion would therefore fizzle away like an insect fart. Because real tangible friends were limited to tens rather than hundreds, thousands, or millions of fake followers that people have today, telling, let’s say 20 people would achieve what exactly? Back in the day if you aired your objection to something, half of the people you told would agree with you, the other half would disagree with you but regardless how little or how many people were in your social circle, that would be the end of it.
Actual, real-life friends haven’t changed with the advent of social media but if someone with let’s say 30 real friends is bolstered by 300, 3000, 30,000, or even 300,000 followers, their opposition to anything is automatically compounded. With every follower having their own set of followers, a minor issue or an unorthodox opinion suddenly branches outward until masses of people are discussing the topic. A news site upon seeing this viewpoint trending (yearning for that audience to convert to ad revenue) then writes an article about the subject, a celebrity then reads the post and they re-post it and the original viewpoint is then read by millions rather than tens of people and voilà: we have an issue blown out of all proportion.
In order to have the same effect back in the day, people would have to photocopy or print leaflets and physically hand them out, they could write a letter to the creator, or they could start a petition, but their outrage would be confined to their city, in rare cases their county, or in extremely rare cases limited to their country. Remember that people used to picket outside a cinema if they found a film offensive, but several people mulling about outside one single location brandishing nothing but a set of placards was next to pointless and they’d be lucky if a local newspaper picked up their story. These days, all it takes is for one person to convince masses of online morons to link to a news story, add their two penneth to the mix (usually a very conformist non-addition) and all of a sudden something or someone is boycotted or “cancelled”. I agree that “cancel culture”, a by-product of being offended is idiotic, but it’s no different than a mass book or vinyl burning (remember when the Beatles said they were more popular than Jesus?). An angry mob overreacting to art is nothing new and putting products on a physical pyre or asking people on Twitter to boycott something is exactly the same thing…
Everyone should burn their Barbara Streisand stuff in the BBQ. We do not tolerate pedophiles or their defenders.—
Petra (@Truthskr72) March 23, 2019
If you crave and actively encourage modern technology to be part of people’s everyday lives, you have to deal with the consequences. People have to take the side-effects as well as the benefits of contemporary technology; yes, thanks to tech, folk can navigate unknown places and speak to people in different languages but the bi-product from technological infiltration is allowing every thought, every idea, every fetid, gaseous output no matter how worthless to be logged and broadcast to the entire world. In that kind of environment, you can’t on one hand revel in the achievement of technological innovation and the brilliance of social media but then turn around and have a delusive outlook on the repercussions your beloved, modern inventions have had on society. And let’s not forget that ironically, anyone offended by so-called “offence culture” airs their viewpoint on social media, the very place that gave birth to the amplification of offence in the first place.
Aside from “cancel culture”, the end result of outrage in many cases is a slew of fake apologies by celebrities and a willingness therefore, to edit their opinion and even change their art to comply with the perceived masses’ viewpoint. This is what is detrimental to modern society, not the people who are offended. Money-hungry morons don’t want any kind of controversy surrounding them and they are all too willing to change their original opinion at the whim of a Twitter mob. But was it any different in the past? Entertainment companies removed references to the twin towers after 9/11 and back in the first Gulf War, radio stations banned unconnected songs like “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. There was also a blacklist of tracks after Princess Diana’s death, tracks which mentioned words like “smash”! And remember that this was pre-emptive, corporations altered their product before any offence could even be taken. On a side note, sometimes artists have idiotic double-standards when it comes to editing their art; creators of The Simpsons for example, don’t want anything to change when it comes to an outdated stereotype they themselves created but they will gladly remove episodes containing the voice of a performer who has allegedly committed a crime. So what is it? Should we never bow to modern society’s evolving morals or should we retrospectively censor everything? You’ll never get a straight answer from the pricks in Hollywood.
When asked about “offence culture”, celebs like Ricky Gervais have said moronic shit like “I think offence is the collateral damage of freedom of speech” as though free speech is some sort of post-millennial invention and being offended is something altogether new. If you think this topic of offence centres around freedom of speech, you also have to acknowledge that a. the original art or product that offended has the right to exist b. the reaction or offence to it also has the right to exist c. the reaction to that reaction has the right to exist but most importantly: the resulting fake apology and the reactionary banning or shunning of said product is what is actually limiting free speech. If you’re pro-freedom like everybody in the West makes out they are, then you have to allow everything in this cycle to take place, the only thing you should be actively preventing is the editing, altering or modifying, and the outright censorship of comments, art, or products by companies and celebrities.
Let’s point out that people who think they’re so above offence culture and censorship are usually not. People are anything but consistent, going from “Why are you cancelling Roseanne because of a tweet?” to “Let’s cancel James Gunn for a tweet!”. Whether from the right or the left, black, white, gay, straight, every single demographic has been guilty of outrage and cancel culture… “Let’s cancel Kevin Hart because of a homophobic tweet!”… “Let’s boycott Rogue One because of their apparent opinion of Donald Trump!”… “Let’s boycott The Passion Of The Christ because of anti-Semitism!”… “Let’s ban Michael Jackson’s music because of allegations!”… “Let’s cancel Barbara Streisand because of her opinion about Michael Jackson’s accusers!”. And what about jokes? People usually yell “why are you offended by such and such?” but they themselves usually have something that they too are offended by. Many white people suggest black people shouldn’t be offended by racial jokes, many men suggest that women shouldn’t be offended by sexist jokes, the same applies to jokes about sexuality and sexual preferences, jokes about religion, and jokes about tragedies. But that’s easy to say when you’re generally not the target. And try telling a joke about terrorism on the day of a terror attack or a joke about dying children on the day of a school shooting: you’ll be confronted with a tirade of online abuse and you may even find yourself banned from social media. And you say we’re in a completely free society? If there are subjects and time-frames that limit free speech, this in itself proves freedom of speech is not as “free” as you may think. So why moan about trivial crap such as “offence” when you should be complaining about something much more important: the suppression of free speech outside of this contemporary buzzword?
Many people, especially white, male, straight, conservatives, act like society shouldn’t be offended by anything, but those who want the freedom to draw Muhammad for example are then offended by the hijab or the location of a mosque. My point is, everybody has something they want to do or say but that usually conflicts with a long list of objects, comments, people, and ideologies that they are offended by (and therefore want “cancelled”). I have yet to meet a person who is completely and utterly unbiased and is in full support of total freedom. People offended by offence culture need to acknowledge the irony and get off their high, heterosexual, white, right-wing horse. Why do they incessantly complain about the “left” when it was people like Mary Whitehouse, a conservative, who arguably created cancel culture in the first place?
Back to the subject of celebrities, I guess it’s sometimes understandable when famous people have a mind-changing, over-reaction to outrage. If you were subjected to thousands upon thousands of messages like this…
@BarbraStreisand die you gapped tooth whore. You deserve to burn in hell.—
Dave (@FtWorthOriginal) March 23, 2019
…maybe you too would back-track from what you originally said, whether you believed in your updated opinion or not, you’d just be trying to stop a group of hysterical twats from threatening you’re life, twats usually adding bigotry and prejudice into the mix (especially if you’re a woman or an ethnic minority). Regardless of how abhorrent people can be on social media, there’s always the “block” button, and with actual cases of death threats, there’s always the police. We have to remember that around 99% of social media is filled with caricatured opinions. Anonymity and a disconnect with physical people means that social media is not a true representation of society, it’s a heightened, cartoonish translation of viewpoints. But regardless of how spiteful people can be online, like I said, the worst part of offence culture is the apologies and the resulting censorship. Why apologise for something if you didn’t think it was offensive while you were saying or creating it? Having a large group of people disagree with you rather than several people disagreeing with you (as was the case pre-social media) apparently makes famous people change their whole outlook on life! Sellout celebrities are always chasing the money and the easy path.
You have to admit, there are positives to so-called “offence culture”. Pre-2000, a plethora of racist, sexist, homophobic, and other assorted prejudiced entertainment was made, and minorities were made to feel like they had no say in the matter. There was also the concept of being outrightly shunned by mainstream entertainment unless you conformed to your given stereotype. Only after being offended by decades of casual bigotry did films like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians come to fruition and only because of offence did the whitewashing of movie roles decline.
People are quick to say “people are so offended these days” but they’re wrong. What they should be saying is “people who are offended can easily find like minded people these days” but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. Sure, you can be outraged by outrage culture but you can’t separate your viewpoint on issues based on your own outlook… “Yes, that’s definitely a problem”… “No, that’s just a bunch of whiny idiots!”. People will generally only gravitate toward opinions they agree with and most people will dismiss everything else as “moaning” and “whinging” but nobody is the sole judge of credibility when it comes to political or societal issues. Something you think is unimportant or trivial is the most important issue to someone else. So let people be offended, just don’t jump on a bandwagon just because it seems like everybody is getting in on a particular topic. If you think something, keep thinking it, don’t let the masses change your opinion. And if you ever find yourself clutching a lighter poised at the tip of a product made by the latest target of online-hate, remember that you’ve already bought that product and that the celebrity therefore has already been paid. Burning or destroying shit makes you look stupid and banning something inadvertently makes something more interesting than it really was. By all means argue your opinion but never force other people to comply with you and never, ever ask to censor or “cancel” something. Remember that the lack of interest in something or someone is much more detrimental than outrage and censorship can ever be.
The Best Defence Is A Good Offence.