I won’t be blowing you away with this observation, but the world has gone bonkers. Completely, utterly bonkers. Beyond political correctness, I think the world’s cojones have well and truly decided to retract all the way inside the body, and given up altogether.
What makes me say that? Three stories in the past week have shown me how remarkably PC-minded we can be.
First, this morning, YouTube announced on its blog that mature content and profanity will be more heavily moderated. In order words, a quick cuss word can cause your video to disappear into oblivion. Now, as Robert Llewellyn points out this morning in his Llewtube video, I’ll be happy to see less mature content crop up randomly when I’m looking for videos of kittens. But profanity? Who sets the blacklist of what swear words are inappropriate? If religious America gets its word in, we’ll have to say “Oh sh…ugar!” as we do in front of 3 year olds? To the best of my knowledge, 3 year olds shouldn’t be left to their own devices when navigating the web.
Second story. Last week, Channel 4 decided to take the entire 4mations site down, after it got cold feet following what’s now been dubbed as “Sachsgate” – otherwise known as Brand & Ross behaving like idiots on air. (For the non-UK folks, two radio hosts made a few immature and somewhat inappropriate “I screwed your granddaughter!” calls to a guest, Andrew Sachs. He’s best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers back in the 70’s. The story snowballed from two complaints when the show was aired to nearly half a million complaints in the week that followed.)
For a project that intended to push the boundaries of creativity, I’m amazed that a pixelated gimp mask and some cartoon boobies were grounds for taking the entire site down. Clearly, a moment of panic because of some slightly bizarre content. And you know what, that’s one of the great things about the weird and wonderful world of the Internet. There’s weird material being added all the time that forces us to re-evaluate where we stand.
Finally, in the real physical world, the Terrorism Act is becoming a real pain in the proverbial. A 15 year old schoolboy was arrested near Wimbledon for taking photos of the stadium on his mobile phone. He said he was working on his GCSE project, and shoo’ed away from the site. This kind of situation was repeated time and time again.
Before anyone jumps at my throat, I by no means condone humour in bad taste or lewd content on the web. But you wouldn’t chuck out an entire bushel of apples for a single bruised one, right? So why stop everyone else from having fun because of a few bad apples?
My issue here is with the knee-jerk reaction we seem to have towards everything these days. Rather than to get a screwdriver to fix the one slightly loose screw, we just get the sledgehammer out and annihilate the whole lot!
I’m not suggesting sticking your fingers in your ears going “La la la I can’t hear you!” when you face a problem, but the reaction should be proportional to the problem. So put the sledgehammer away, will you?