April 11, 2008

Sexual harassment IS wrong.

This video (and I'm sorry for it being linked through AOL) is of Hayden Panettiere giving a fake PSA about sexual harassment. The meaning I draw from it is that she (or Will Ferrell, who's website it's on, or whoever wrote it - but, her being in it means she finds it funny too) is spoofing on how overreactive people get about sexual comments, in the workplace or otherwise.

I think there are two kinds of jokes that can be made about potentially "over PC" subjects, such as sexual harassment of even mild severity.

The first is exaggerating it to the point where I suppose we are led to believe that we must reassess our own positions on the matter, and must see how ridiculous believing this really is. I believe this video is one of that kind.

Another "PSA" is this video, which I think is of a second kind - that where something is so ridiculously un-PC that we laugh at the distance between the actions and reality. For example, I think that the viewer is supposed to find humor in the space between the actor's comments on picking up women and what men actually think when they pick up women.

Both of these are so problematic. Exaggerating PCness to be funny is ridiculous. It belittles the original subject. I even find myself agreeing with Hayden, although maybe not with all the word choices, and find it true rather than serious.

The second kind, being so unPC as to make it funny, is also ridiculous. For example, I have a friend who's very couth and intelligent and open-minded, but cannot stop using the word "gay" to mean bad things. He knows that it's stupid, and does it precisely to make fun of people who do say that with an honest heart. I argue that saying unPC but socially acceptable things to make fun of how acceptable and yet unPC they are just adds to the problem. Even if my friend says "gay" in that context precisely to make fun of people who do it sincerely, he still has added one more tally in the times that it's been said. Even though this video of calling women "bitches" does so to make fun of the people who really feel that way, one more comment like that has been added to the collective atmosphere.

1 comment:

icarus said...

thanks for this post. :)