It’s time to dust off the old opinion generator and get back in the saddle. That’s right folks; Laying The Quackdown is back! I’ve got to admit, when I first had the idea of bringing blogs to the MFX Podcast site, it was for purely selfish reasons.
As anyone who listens to the MFX Podcast knows, I’ve always enjoyed sharing my half-baked opinions and ill-conceived ideas with the world (whether they’re wanted or not). I used to have an outlet to do that over at SLTD Wrestling, although it was mainly pro-wrestling topics that I covered.
Unfortunately, SLTD seems to have gone the way of so many online entities and slipped quietly into the night. It’s a damn shame because there were some great writers there and I know George ‘The Animal’ Peel (as he’s known the MFX Galaxy) put in a lot of hours to keep the place going.
With SLTD gone and apparently not coming back any time soon, I went back and forth about starting my own blog. I looked into setting up a new site. I thought about doing something through Facebook. Then I realised that seemed like a lot of work and being the work shy piece of shit I am, I then thought: why the hell don’t I just do it here, and open it up to anyone else who wants to write? So that’s what I did!
So far we’re a couple of weeks into MFX Ramblings and I couldn’t be happier with the results. We’ve got a great group of people writing about a whole host of subjects; from anime to mental health issues, to politics and pro-wrestling. This is exactly what I had hoped we’d see when we opened the site up to blogs from the always awesome MFX Galaxy.
So before I get into my own nonsense here, I want to say a huge note of thanks to everyone who has signed up to be a part of MFX Ramblings. You guys have already posted some excellent stuff and we’ve still got a ton of quality blogs waiting to be posted.
If you want to join the MFX Ramblings team, drop us an email to email@example.com and we’ll get you all set up. We have no set schedule and no limitations. You write what you want, when you want. We’ll support you through our various social media platforms, as well as the MFX Forums and the podcast.
Right, with the embarrassing ass kissing out of the way, and a few shameless plugs crowbarred in, let’s get down to it. I’m not writing about wrestling this week. I’ve got something slightly more important that I’m Layin’ the Quackdown on. So let’s get to it.
Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else feel that media driven ‘public outrage’ is completely out of control and also, a little bit scary for the future of equality and freedom of expression?
A month or so ago, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch (easily the single greatest name since Sexton Hardcastle) was hung in the court of public opinion due to his ‘outrageous’ behaviour in using the word ‘coloured’ to describe black actors while being interviewed on American TV.
Ok, before you too join the rage train, let me just state for the record that I know ‘coloured’ is an outdated term and that it is considered offensive to black people. I get that.
For those of you who didn’t catch this bullshit storm when it first happened, Benedict didn’t use the word in a derogatory way. He didn’t use it to insult anyone. He used it during an interview where he was lamenting the fact that black actors (friends of his) in the UK don’t get the kind of job opportunities that are open to them in the US.
In other words, he was highlighting the struggle black actors in the UK go through to find work and he was supporting their ongoing drive for equality. He was complaining about the fact they feel they have to go to American to find more opportunities – something he said shouldn’t happen.
What left me stunned and shaking my head in disbelief at the faux outrage, mainly driven by newspapers like The Daily Mail – who were clearly looking for a way to take some wind of out Mr Cumberbatch’s ridiculously successful sails – was how they completely ignored the context in which he used the word ‘coloured.’
So in amongst all the positive and supportive comments, he used ONE WORD that was out of line with current acceptable terminology. This ‘grave’ mistake in the mind of the newspapers and some less than Mensa level Twitter users, apparently caused mass offence and the now sadly traditional ‘full public apology’ was demanded and given by Benedict.
So let’s just go through this one more time. He was speaking in support of black actors. He was making the point that he’d witnessed first-hand the discrimination that they had gone through. He was on the right side of the moral debate. But that was ignored because of one word that he used incorrectly and innocently, with no prejudice or insult meant. Everything else of a positive nature that he said was buried under the fake moral outrage and perceived offence caused by ONE FUCKING WORD…
What was even crazier was every single black actor or black public figure who was quizzed on the subject (with the papers no doubt hoping one of them would bury Sherlock for being a racist) all defended him. To a man, everyone one of them reminded the people seeking confirmation of offence, about the context that he had used the word in. So at least some people in this whole fake outrage shit storm understood what the real point Benedict was trying to make.
Has the world complete lost its fucking mind? When did we start ignoring the context in which words are said? It’s insane. The level of ‘gotcha’ behaviour that now permeates through the media and online is staggering and in the case of Benedict Cumberbatch, it’s completely ignored the context something was said in, and instead marked out a single word as being offensive, when in reality it offended no one who would find it fucking offensive. Jesus, I think my head is going to explode.
Last year I went on a mandatory equality training course for my job. It was a worthwhile exercise – if you’re the type of person who needs to be trained not to be racist, sexist or homophobic. It turns out I’m not one of those people, which I knew already, but it’s nice to have a piece of paper to confirm it…
Anyway, at that training course, the trainer regaled us with a story about how a woman on the same course a few weeks earlier had asked him if it was acceptable to describe her coffee as ‘black’ or should she use the word ‘coloured.’
Yep, that’s right – she was worried about causing offence by describing the colour of a cup of coffee. This was one of the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard. Until I saw what happened to Benedict Cumberbatch a few weeks ago.
How did we get to this point? Why do the media and swathes of people on social media lie in the long grass, waiting to pounce on someone the instant they say something slightly controversial or offensive, while at the same time completely ignoring the context it was said in? Why are we so obsessed with policing what people say?
I guess the answer to that is the simple fact that calling someone else out (especially someone in the public eye) makes certain people feel better about themselves. You can knock someone down a few pegs, while at the same time appearing morally superior to someone who has succeed in life where you have no doubt failed.
As for the media, we all know that question doesn’t even really need an answer. They know what the public want (someone famous being shamed) and they practically create these scenarios, just to give them a chance to report on ‘public outrage’ which they themselves have created. It’s a self powered bullshit machine that burns brightly, but fizzles out as our collective attention spans get sorted. So every day a new ‘Twitter storm’ is brewed up and the cycle of bullshit continues.
Sadly, the public eat this kind of thing up with both hands, and the newspapers and online news sites are happy to keep shovelling it down our throats, and we guzzle it down like the greedy little outrage piggies we are.
Look, if someone is a racist, or a bigot, or is homophobic, they should be called out on it, held to account and made to apologise. They should also be re-educated as to why what they said is not socially acceptable.
Of course, for a lot of the older generation (who seem perfectly comfortable with being racist, sexist or homophobic), their prejudices are really just a symptom of the times they grew up in. But that isn’t really an excuse. You have to grow and evolve as a person in time with the evolution of society; unless you want to sit in the dark ages with Nigel Farage and the rest of those relics from a bygone era.
If someone expresses views that are hate driven and divisive, then should be called to task on it. That should go without saying. But when we completely ignore context or meaning, and just jump on a SINGLE WORD, we’re going to quickly get to the point where people are genuinely confused about how to describe the colour of their coffee, for fear of causing offence to someone…even if they have absolutely no intention to do so.
That isn’t a free thinking world, that isn’t a world of free expression and communication, that’s an Orwellian nightmare. That’s the kind of world that allows the hate driven, divisive, stone-age thinkers the chance to peddle their bullshit and hide it under the label of ‘political correctness gone mad.’ We’re giving them an out, by being completely ridiculous in seeking out offence, while ignoring context.
There’s a fine balance to strike and the more fake ‘public outrage’ stories that both news and social media whip up, the further that balance leans away from what equality and tolerance should be about.
We can’t just be offended by words and we can’t allow those who want to cause offence to be able to slip through the net, because we’re too busy ignoring context and focusing on single words. In other words, let’s stop freaking out and celebrating when someone famous slips up and instead focus on dealing with real intolerance and inequality.
Phew, that all got a bit intense and serious for an opening blog. Sorry about that. I’ll write about pro-wrestling next time to redress the balance.
Here’s a picture of a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker to cheer you all up:
God damn it, nature is amazing.
Right, that’ll do for this first edition of Laying The Quackdown on MFX Ramblings. Be sure to check out all the other blogs here and make sure to follow our writers on Twitter.
Thanks for reading and if you’ve got an opinion on my ranting, be sure to leave it in the comments section below.
Until next time…