While Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Stephen Merchant bemoan a political correctness that has turned college students into humorless prudes, Sarah Silverman replies that such comedians need to get with the times or risk becoming irrelevant.
But if a couple of recent Hollywood examples of anti-PC backlash are any indication, it may be Silverman who is on the way to becoming irrelevant.
First, the fearless, equal-opportunity offenders at “South Park” set their sights on the PC “language police” during the show’s Sept. 16 season opener. Then, this past weekend’s new movie lineup included “The Green Inferno,” the latest from torture porn auteur Eli Roth. The story follows a planeload of naïve social justice warriors who venture into the rainforest to save an endangered tribe, only to become victims of cannibalism and their own self-righteousness — or, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, “kids who head into the jungle to do good, and end up good eats.”
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Social justice warriors — known as SJWs on social media — are progressive crusaders hellbent on eradicating racial and economic injustice, real or imaginary, through bullying and “a fixation on identity and privilege,” Cathy Young wrote in The Observer. “SJW” is actually a pejorative label, but SJWs themselves proudly embrace it.
As a Columbia student and former SJW wrote in July in the New York Post, the first time someone hurled the term at her as an insult, “I was elated. I considered myself a superhero, fighting one stigma at a time until the United States became a land of truly equal opportunity.”
But in “South Park’s” season premiere, SJWs are portrayed not as superheroes, but as a bullying, intolerant fraternity, one of whom — “PC Principal” — takes over the South Park kids’ school and sets out to abolish sexist microaggressions and gender bigotry. One character utters the forbidden opinion, “I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner is a hero,” and PC Principal decries it as “transphobic and bigoted hate speech.”
And they’re just tweeting and retweeting. They’re not actually doing anything.
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Real-world SJWs were not amused. As the New York Post points out, culture site Bustle complained the episode made it “seem like a bad thing to strive for correct language around transgender issues,” and film critic Bob Chipman sniffed that the show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have “morphed into the Trump of TV comedy.” Ironically, “South Park” would go on to savage Donald Trump a week later.
Admittedly, Stone and Parker don’t represent mainstream Hollywood — they’re much too fair and balanced and edgy for that — but they’re not alone in declaring open season on SJWs. Roth recently told the Los Angeles Times that the smug hashtag activists who share handwritten slogans on Twitter were his inspiration for “The Green Inferno.”
“I see that a lot of people want to care and want to help, but in general I feel like people don’t really want to inconvenience their own lives. And I saw a lot of people just reacting to things on social media. These social justice warriors. ‘This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.’ And they’re just tweeting and retweeting. They’re not actually doing anything,” Roth said.
“The SJW culture has gotten so out of control,” he said, and “Inferno” is his way of addressing it. Like the “South Park” episode, the movie has already struck a nerve with actual SJWs such as the tribal rights attorney at Huffington Post who finds it an “incredibly offensive depiction of indigenous people.” TheWrap.com dubbed the film “racially reprehensible.”
The more self-congratulatory and self-serious SJWs become, the more they become parodies of themselves — holier-than-thou, irrational, and ragingly uptight — and the more tempting it becomes to poke fun at them.
Political correctness still reigns on campuses across America, and in Hollywood as well, but no totalitarian ideology can long withstand ridicule.