From using banned words to enjoying problematic movies, songs, and games, we’ve all done our part to promote racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and everything else. It’s time to repent our sins. Or is it?
Let’s face it: Everyone born before 1980 has committed at least one cardinal sin against our increasingly woke culture. Whether it be whispering a now banned word, enjoying a problematic movie, or just geeking out playing Dungeons & Dragons, all of us are guilty of perpetuating racism, sexism, ableism, and a whole host of other horrors.
For example, have you ever used the r-word? Do you even know what the r-word is?
If not, just ask 19-year old NASCAR Truck Series driver, Hailie Deegan. Last weekend, during an i-Racing event, she said it and now needs to undergo sensitivity training. Apparently another driver had bumped into her (virtual) car, prompting the young woman to say, “This is fun. Oh, ay, who’s the r-word behind me? Don’t do that please.”
She apologized even before the evening was over. Saying in a statement, “It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There’s no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.”
Of course, her sponsor, Ford, chimed in. “We are aware of this inappropriate comment. Hailie immediately acknowledged this mistake, has apologized and promised to be much more thoughtful in the future,” the company said in a statement.
It still wasn’t enough, and a re-education camp was required.
Hailie is 19. If you’re over 40, have you ever said worse? What percentage of you can honestly say you’ve never used the r-word, the g-word, the f-word, or even dare I suggest it, the n-word? There might well be other words I’m not even thinking of right now. The list keeps growing and growing.
Words aren’t the only things that are problematic these days. Did you enjoy movies like Revenge of the Nerds? Short Circuit? The Goonies? Teen Wolf? If so, that’s a problem.
In Short Circuit for example, Digital Spy reports they cast Fisher Stevens, a “thin, white Jewish kid from Chicago” as an Indian engineer. Rosie Fletcher notes, “Though the character was initially meant to be a white grad student, director John Badham decided to make the character Asian – but didn’t bother to re-cast. Fisher did his best to embrace the role, working with a vocal coach and even living in India for a month in prep but… Well, it’s still weird and inappropriate.”
This, apparently, is how racism is perpetuated: I must’ve watched the movie half a dozen times as a kid and I never noticed that an actor was playing something he wasn’t. I just liked the robot, but little did I know the horror. Now, I wonder if they got a real robot to play Number 5? Or was it a fake robot, an actor robot?
Surely, it won’t be long until robots have rights too.
Like me, you might also be wondering what’s wrong with Teen Wolf. Apparently, Teen Wolf uses one of the banned words. This time the f-word. Ms. Fletcher reports on a scene that unfolds as follows. “Are you going to tell me you’re a f-word? Because if you’re going to tell me you’re a f-word, I’m not going to be able to handle it.” Michael J. Fox replies, “I’m not a f-word. I’m a Werewolf.”
Apparently, the f-word appears in quite a few 80’s movies. Ms. Fletcher adds to the horror, “Also guilty of the other F word: the otherwise-irreproachable Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Sigh.”
I guess it’s time to cancel Keanu Reeves.
Overall, the situation is so serious that Molly Ringwald, star of many an 80’s movie from Sixteen Candles to Pretty in Pink, opposes them now. “I feel very differently about the movies now and it’s a difficult position for me to be in because there’s a lot that I like about them. And of course I don’t want to appear ungrateful to John Hughes, but I do oppose a lot of what is in those movies.”
Amazingly, Ms. Ringwald ultimately stumbles onto the truth somewhere, though clearly lacking the self awareness to recognize it. “I feel like the movies that I made then were very much representing the culture at the time. And I feel like that is why they resonated with people, because it was their experience and they did feel that they had these films that were real.”
Cultures change over time, you don’t say? We don’t ride horses anymore or use the guillotine?
It’s not only movies in the 80’s that were problematic. ScaryMommy.com reports on 80’s music that was equally problematic, if not worse. Dire Straits smash hit, Money for Nothing, is at the top of the list, once again for use of the f-word. The song contains the lyrics, “That little f-word with the earring and the makeup/Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair.”
As usual, any sense of self-awareness is completely lacking, though in a different way. The author, Kate Seldman notes that “today, I’d never dream of saying something so hateful,” and that “The song is written from the perspective of a working-class man watching music videos,” but then concludes “does that mean Knopfler [singer, songwriter, and guitarist] is suggesting working-class people are homophobic?”
Apparently, irony is completely lost on Ms. Seldman: In the lyrical construction of the song, Knopfler is the little f-word himself. He’s the millionaire making money playing music, and everyone watching the video wanted to be the rockstar, not the construction workers. Not to be outdone, Ms. Seldman goes on to note “There’s just generally a lot wrong with this situation, not to mention the whole ‘chicks for free’ part,” because you know rockstars are normally associated with boring sex lives.
The madness doesn’t stop there, of course. The Bangles Walk Like an Egyptian is also problematic and racist because…Egyptians don’t actually walk like that. I’m dead serious. “You know who I’m betting didn’t think this was cool at all? Egyptian people. Because, surprise! They didn’t actually walk like that. That walk was based on ancient Egyptian drawings, and wasn’t anything to do with modern Egyptians. Problematic? You betcha.”
Who knew? Apparently, we were all promoting racism listening to the song because we were too dumb to realize that actual Egyptians didn’t walk like that. I know I definitely thought everyone in Egypt went around like The Bangles at the time and it was only Ms. Seldman that clued me in on the harsh, racist reality.
As an aside, if this is truly a sin, I am double-plus extra guilty. During a performance of South Pacific (is that problematic too?) in high school, a castmate and I who weren’t even supposed to be on stage, walked across the back of the set like Egyptians during a musical number. We thought it was just a harmless practical joke for the last performance, but, surely, it was a banner day for racism in Hazlet, NJ. The White Supremacists in the audience must’ve been thrilled.
Of course, Ms. Seldman’s rant doesn’t end there: Queen’s We Are the Champions is also singled out for scolding, albeit in a roundabout manner. Apparently, she played it for her students and they weren’t impressed. “I don’t like the part where he says ‘No time for losers,’” one of the students noted. “That’s not nice to the people who lost.” Another student said, “He’s being a bully.”
This should’ve been a teachable moment about the nature of art in general, something apparently lost on Ms. Seldman given the structure of her various criticisms. Artists don’t necessarily depict the things they like or audiences enjoy the things depicted because they want the events to happen to them. Most people don’t watch a performance of Macbeth wishing they were him, excited at the thought of being vanquished at the end for their numerous crimes. Nor am I aware of anyone who wants to be King Lear descending into madness after giving up his kingdom.
Ms. Seldman gets close, awfully close, to this once-basic concept, now completely lost. “I don’t think that songwriter Freddie Mercury was trying to put anybody down, given that the rest of the song is about triumphing over adversity.” Then she completely fumbles, “I do appreciate, however, that my students recognize hurtful words and see that it’s wrong to use them against others.”
This is what she appreciates? Not that they can’t understand that art isn’t a guidebook for life and that when you see something in a film, you aren’t necessarily supposed to go out and do it?
As I said at the beginning, given our contributions to perpetuating the racist patriarchy, not to mention understanding basic storytelling techniques, we’re clearly at the point where we’re better off just cancelling the entire generation.
You might not admit it now, but you know you committed these and other atrocities — from playing Dungeons & Dragons to watching Seinfeld, yes problematic Seinfeld episodes are a thing — therefore we have no place in polite society anymore. Repent your sins, scrub your music playlists, film libraries, gaming preferences, bookshelves (that’s a thing too), or else.
Or else what? Perhaps we can just recognize that, in many ways, things have changed for the better over the past 40 years and ignore the constant whiners and complainers who want to tear everything down. After all, they could well be coming for your favorite thing next. Maybe we can cancel them instead?