With dire determination about the nature of his being, an annoyingly assertive red M&M once said, “”I’m not plain, I am milk chocolate.”” I would like to meet him, give him a big smack upside his candy-coated shell, roll my eyes and tell him, “”Oh puhleese!””
Forgive my insensitivity, but when M&M commercials dramatically echo the complaints of present day stereotypes and respond to them with such creative euphemisms, I have but one question: Has society become too politically correct for its own good?
Believe me, I am as much for politically correctness as the next person when it comes to issues regarding race, gender and politics.
But do we really need to sugar coat every other word in a conversation just to avoid sounding stereotypical or degrading?
Take the case of my high school friend Gina, who had recently found a job at a local nude bar.
We had been talking about what she did for a living.
“”For the sake of political correctness, I’m a not topless bar stripper,”” she smiled and told me matter of factly.
“”I’m a male entertainer, thank you very much!””
I thought for a minute. “”Um, no,”” I said. “”You’re a stripper.”” I simply rolled my eyes and laughed. I sensed she was being politically correct for the sake of her ego.
Somewhat disappointed, and embarrassed at the sheer bluntness of flat-out being called a “”stripper,”” she shrugged.
“”Stupid, I know,”” she replied. “”I’m a bit overly sensitive about that, huh?”” Stupid? No. Overly sensitive? Maybe. Anal? Unnecessarily. Too politically correct for her own good? Yes.
In my opinion, it was fine for Gina to sugar coat her not-so-smiled-upon profession and avoid criticism or speculation.
I bet one will agree with me, though, when I say it gets old when people always want to be politically correct about every little thing.
It is simply not necessary, because when people use politically correct terms incessantly to avoid sounding shady, they succeed in accomplishing the very opposite.
Political correctness was born sometime in the 1980s as a device to curb public figures from speaking without inhibition and offending minor factions in society.
Although it started only to hold public figures to a higher standard of professionalism, it soon became an unwritten and written law in most communities.
Using political correctness was to prevent people from being offended, to compel everyone to avoid using words or behavior that may upset homosexuals, women, nonwhites, the crippled, the mentally impaired, the fat, the ugly or anything not in the desirable norm.
However, political correctness has risen to new heights in people’s consciences when the only thing people are concerned about is the preservation of others’ feelings and egos and the risk of sounding too stereotypical.
What people do not realize is that political correctness is an ideal, but should not be mandated by social norms.
We should be able to speak as plainly as we want without worrying about how we sound, just so long as we are genuine and do not speak with fighting words.
If we are judgmental and critical people to begin with, no politically correct term will be able to mask that.
Every word, whether describing a person, a group of people or a profession, seemingly has a politically correct counterpart.
Although most of these terms are arguably needed to prevent prevailing stereotypes, it is easy to get carried away.
Soon we are left with commercials that mock the behavior of society and animated candy pieces telling us what to call them — something that this vertically challenged, Asian-American, Greek-affiliated, academic athlete (or: short, sorority, nerdy Asian girl) will certainly not have.