22 June 2007

Full-blown discussion on political correctness

(I don't even know if the following post makes sense. I wrote it at 2 a.m. because I couldn't sleep and needed something to occupy me).

Well, I told you that I was going to tackle more provocative topics on my blog. Now that we've got "male prostitution Facebook ads" out of the way, I'm going to talk about AIDS. No, Seriously.

I just happened to think of several things I saw/heard yesterday on the topic while I was lying in bed last night. (I've had insomnia for a little over a week, but Rachel said she doesn't want to have to tell people she's going to visit her friend in rehab for an addiction to Lunesta. So until I remember to stock up on Tylenol PM, I'm drug free and sleepless for a while). All of the items that sparked this should all tie together by the end, so bear with me.

OK. So I watched a re-run of The Office last night. And this is the quote (which coincidentally I laughed out loud at) that sparked my whole thought cycle:

Michael Scott (Steve Carrell): "Okay, you know what? No. No. AIDS is not funny. Believe me, I have tried."

So, right. Everyone laughs at this line. But Michael Scott is actually right for once. AIDS is not funny. Being totally politically incorrect to the point of making an ass of yourself, however, is.

That is the genius behind the movie (I know I've discussed it on this blog at least once before): Sarah Silverman's "Jesus Is Magic." This is a movie I will never watch with any of my parents or anyone I haven't known for longer than 6 months so that I can make an assessment as to whether I can laugh at politically incorrect jokes around them (which is a basic criteria for being one of my good friends, BTW). Anyway, Silverman's entire comedy set is based on 'cutesy' innocent delivery of the most wrong, dirty, disgusting jokes on the most politically incorrect topics imaginable. So of course she is chock full of AIDS jokes. But the AIDS part could really be interchanged with any other touchy topic. Race, Religion, Prostitutes, Rape…You don't laugh because she's making fun of AIDS (that's my overall point that I want to keep stressing, as not to offend anyone: AIDS is not funny), you laugh because you can't believe that someone actually said what she just said out loud.

From the Pajiba review: "Silverman relies on our sense that this cute girl couldn't really mean the awful things she says…The variety and expressiveness of her vocal inflections are amazing; there's no way to explain it in print, but she can simply mutter the words "Full-blown AIDS" and, in context, it's uproariously funny."

Which brings me to the next item from yesterday that inspired this post. I was watching the news on our local CBS affiliate, WUSA/Channel 9. I recently switched to watching their 7pm news broadcast (one) because it's the only local news in that timeslot and (two) the anchor really amuses me. He doesn't seem like your typical "I take myself way too seriously" news anchor. In fact, I feel like he could just be a middle-aged intern that they gave a script to and now he's like "cool. here's the news." When I Googled the station earlier this week, I found out why. This is WUSA.com's Google description:

"What's groovin' in the Federal City ? Keep it real at WUSA9.com!" Huh??

Is it just me or is that a totally unforeseen choice as a tagline for a CBS network affiliate? I mean, I could understand that for the less reputable WB. It could also be used as a tagline for "Tyra." But hey, maybe that is in fact why I like Channel 9. They "Keep it real."

So to tie "Keepin' it real" into my overall topic for today, one of their news stories really took me aback last night. They were doing a story on HIV prevention and treatment and said something along the lines of "HIV gone untreated could develop into full-blown AIDS." They literally said "full blown AIDS" on the evening newscast.

I'm not trying to be funny. I ask that you please call me out on this if I'm being completely ignorant with regard to what I'm about to ask (I may very well be), but is "Full blown AIDS" a generally accepted and politically correct term? My completely serious question is this: do you actually have to use the adjective "full blown?" Doesn't just "AIDS" cover it? To re-iterate: I am not trying to be an a-hole. I'm just really curious. Because I was offended by that description being used on the evening news. And I couldn't laugh because it didn't seem like an OK thing to do in that context.

Why is it funny when Sarah Silverman says it, but not when the evening news says it? It both instances it is shocking (to me, at least)--but in one instance I laugh because it is wrong and in the other instance I ask myself, "WOW. Is he ALLOWED to say that?"

I guess being politically correct/incorrect both have their times and places. Sometimes I think if we could call a "time out" on being offended by topics/words/terms/ideas we could have some decent discussions and really get some things resolved- or at least on the table. If you always have to be careful of what you say, sometimes things never get addressed and are left to stew. And another thing-It really does make me think of when people just let things slip out of their mouths, be it a public figure or just someone in the wrong social situation. Just generally--I'm not trying to defend anyone or any instance of late. I Anyway, I have a whole list of other ideas on this topic. None of which I am super opinionated on, just thoughts that I've been, well, thinking would spur a good discussion.

I hope if any of you have thoughts on the issue, you'll address it in the comment area.


Kristin said...

DFo walked in while I was watching "Jesus is Magic." I turned the channel.

Rachel said...

pg county ambulances motto is "keepin it safe" i laugh every time i see that

Shamra said...

Mention of "full-blown AIDS" on idontlikeyouinthatway.com today: http://www.idontlikeyouinthatway.com/2007/06/mena-suvari-is-at-the-beach.html

If addition to that article and after a little research it appears that, "full-blown" is an unnecessary modifier for AIDS as HIV and AIDS are both binary states - that is they are like pregnancy. You either are or you aren't. There's no "half-blown" AIDS.

Evan said...

its kind of funny....

joe said...

Seems like "full blown" AIDS is for when a person has had their immune system totally gutted by the virus and any random sickness is a potential death-sentence. While with the early-on AIDS a person might have a fighting chance against the flu or whatever. I think there's a legitimate distinction.

I've heard some funny AIDS jokes. Nothing I'm going to repeat here, but they're usually puns. Hi Leslie.

LG said...

OK, Joe. I can see where that makes sense. Valid point. Although, for the comment record, I have been told it isn't any sort of proper medical terminology.