As well as being Fat Tuesday/Pancake Tuesday, it seems it's also International Women's Day. I only know this due to Twitter's trending feature as I glanced at it this morning and noticed IWD was up there, trending worldwide. Just below it was Jim Davidson, a UK comedian who was a regular on our tv screens in an age when joking about women and 'blacks' got a lot more laughs than it does today. He didn't help his sinking career by being a dickhead as well and he was perfect tabloid fodder a decade or so ago as his private life (ha !) was as 'colourful' as his stage act.
So why was he trending ? Well it seems he was being interviewed on BBC Radio 5Live and considering what (we think) we know about his personal life, attitudes and stage act, many tweeters couldn't believe the irony of him being featured with IWD. So many spoke their minds and were then retweeted that old "Nick Nick" found himself trending for the first time in his life.
And that brings me to my subject - racism. I admit I'm all over the place with this word as it seems to have more interpretations and implications than just about any other word we use today and for some reason, all are assumed to be wrong. Lets give it a spin........
Frenchmen smell of garlic.
Racist ? Well sure, as the statement pertains to a race, or at least a nation, for goodness sake.
Offensive ? Who decides ? As they do generally eat a lot of garlic, I'm sure a lot of French women find THEM offensive !
Black people can't swim very well.
Racist ? Again yes as I've specifically mentioned an entire race of people.
Offensive ? Hardly. It's a statement of fact.
You see racism isn't always wrong and I hate seeing articles where it is stated that it is. Maybe I'm just not interpreting the word correctly and I really mean to be saying that 'race' isn't wrong.....as in the above examples. Maybe the definition of racism has been changed to ONLY mean offence against races. And as it's hard to decide what offends, make it ALL offensive.
I donno anymore. It's a bit of a mine field and as with mine fields, I try and stay clear.
Jokes can be complex; I like play on words jokes, clever use of my language jokes and even ones I need to think about for a few seconds in order to 'get' the joke. Generally speaking, if it takes me more than a few seconds to understand, then it's never going to be funny to me ! And if you have to explain it to me, forget it. My embarrassment at having had to have it explained to me totally offsets any comedic effects. My rule.
From the days of 'an Englishman, an Irishman and a Jew walk into a pub' type jokes, we've been laughing at racist jokes for centuries. Of course how long something has been around for doesn't make it right or acceptable - take Chicken McNuggets for example !
My (unusual for me) problem is that I can't ever express my thoughts on racism succinctly and when I try and write about it, the mess in my head comes out as a mess in my writing. I laugh guiltily behind the settee at Catholic jokes. While back there I admit to laughing at jokes about race too, especially national stereotype ones. Even my own nationality. I mean if we can't laugh at ourselves, then we're in for a very stressful existence.
Some may say that's wrong. Garlic smelling, onion covered, beret wearing French readers may be peddling away now in droves. Bon voyage I say, although being British, I say it very badly and with one arm being twisted behind my back as it's using a foreign language.
The whole Politically Correct business is a joke in itself and I'm pretty sure that when people in power get on their high horses about something not being PC, they are just scared to say......"look it was all said/done tongue-in-cheek people, so have a non guilty laugh and move on". They'd probably say it better but that's what they'd mean. It seems these days the 'offender' has to grovel publicly and even sack himself or herself in order to stop the overcrowded bandwagon of double standards from flattening them completely.
The Richard Keys/Andy Gray fiasco being a case in point. Shakespeare had a very appropriate play title to sum up that particular non event.
I'm not really sure why I've written this post. Maybe I wanted to dip my toes into the murky waters of racial controversy - or maybe I just wanted to have an excuse to attach a YouTube video !
Being a Norn Iron child of the 50's and 60's, I grew up never having seen a "person of darker colouring" until I was 18, when I moved to Leicester to start at University. Having said that, we did have a black and white tv for longer than most so really, I shouldn't have been all that surprised when I did see one in real life !
An entertainment treat for us back in those simpler days was "The Black & White Minstrel Show" which is partly why my head is such a mess today when it comes to political correctness and racism. All I can say is that AT THE TIME, I loved the routines and how the songs went seamlessly from one to another without a pause. I may have known they were Negro songs from the American deep south but as a child and even a teenager, that was all I knew. They were white British singers trying to recreate American Negro singers and I never lost any sleep over them not just using Negro singers in the first place. For all I knew, they didn't exist.
Why did they paint their faces ? Come on, it was all part of the illusion they were trying to create. Racist ? Politically incorrect ? It seems so today for many people. But surely this could be seen as a positive case of racism (what now ???) as the great singing of these timeless songs, no matter if they were borne out of slavery and oppression, brought them, and the history behind them, to a much wider audience.
There are just so many double standards at work with racism and political correctness.
"Are You Being Served", "All In The Family", "Love Thy Neighbour" and even "On The Buses" would be on any list of non PC shows that we all enjoyed at one time. Or maybe not. I never did care for Reg Varney and his attitude to women did make me cringe even back then. And I never EVER understood how his sidekick bus driver could 'pull a bird' when he looked like a classic old letch who was well past his letch-by date anyway. Sorry Bob, but you did.
See, it's a mine field I tells ya.
Ok before this mess turns into a quagmire (oh God not Quagmire from Family Guy !!!), I'll stop the flow and show the vid.
Entertaining ? Offensive ? Entertainingly offensive ? Feel free to comment. All I know is that when we finally got a colour tv, the show lost something and that in itself is a mine field to explore.
But not right now. I'm off to therapy !