Saturday, April 14, 2007

If Imus had called them "fat dykes," would it have been overlooked?

Harvey Fierstein wrote an interesting op ed piece in the New York Times last week (see below) about the acceptability of outright discrimination and disrespect when it comes to other categories...gays, Jews, overweight people, to name a few. In fact, I suspect that if Don Imus had slung a misogynist epithet (and not a racist AND misogynist one) at the Rutgers women's basketball team, it would have been overlooked. What is acceptable discrimination in our culture?

"For the past two decades political correctness has been derided as a surrender
to thin-skinned, humorless, uptight oversensitive sissies. Well, you anti-politically correct people have won the battle, and we’re all now feasting on the spoils of your victory. During the last few months alone we’ve had a few comedians spout racism, a basketball coach put forth anti-Semitism and several high-profile spoutings of anti-gay epithets.

What surprises me, I guess, is how choosy the anti-P.C. crowd is about which hate speech it will not tolerate. Sure, there were voices of protest when the TV actor Isaiah Washington called a gay colleague a “faggot.” But corporate America didn’t pull its advertising from “Grey’s Anatomy,” as it did with Mr. Imus, did it? And when Ann Coulter likewise tagged a presidential candidate last month, she paid no real price.

In fact, when Bill Maher discussed Ms. Coulter’s remarks on his HBO show,he repeated the slur no fewer than four times himself; each mention, I must note,solicited a laugh from his audience. No one called for any sort of apology fromhim. (Well, actually, I did, so the following week he only used it once.) Face it,if a Pentagon general, his salary paid with my tax dollars, can label homosexualacts as “immoral” without a call for his dismissal, who are the moral high andmighty kidding?"

I am constantly facing this issue as I argue about what is acceptable movie viewing for a 10-year-old boy. My oldest son is bound and determined to convince us to allow him to see movies that are rated R, PG-13, or what I view as just plain hateful and inappropriate. We've allowed him to see a handful of PG-13 movies (Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and Harry Potter), and he views that as license to lobby us to see all PG-13 movies. We are holding our ground...but what is my recent concern is the spate of movies that are full of homophobic or sexist jokes, scantily clad women, and inappropriate sexual references or language. Take the recent remake of the "Bad News Bears," which is one of the movies in constant argument. My sources tell me that it's full of homophobic, racist, and sexist jokes and references, not to mention drugs and bad language. Yet it's marketed to children. Then there's the recent "Blades of Glory," which my son is desperate to see. One look at the trailer shows that it must be full of homophobic references and jokes. I have never found mean humor attractive, and it seems that the humor is getting meaner and meaner.

I have found a couple of helpful web sites that I use to check out appropriateness of certain movies. I've now given my son the link to one of these web sites, so he can check out the age ratings for himself. I'm sure we'll still have the arguments, but I'm hoping that he will someday understand that I'm looking out for his best interests. Here are the web sites that give kids' ratings: Movie Mom and Kids in Mind. My DH is a tiny bit more relaxed about content than I am--he's allowed him to watch Yu-Gi-Oh and the Simpsons, for example. According to the 4th grader, other boys his age are allowed to watch all manner of PG-13 and R-rated movies! Maybe it's mom trying to protect her kids as long as possible? What do you think?

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