Political Correctness = Boring Storytelling

Posted Sonlight Press Writing

I hate political correctness for many, many reasons.  One of them is that it’s social pressure limits creativity.

conflictRight now, the only person that can be the butt of jokes is an average white guy, usually a dad.  Watch commercials on TV.  How many of them show a white guy/dad being stupid?  A lot.  Too many, for my tastes.

“My husband is so stupid, he can’t cook/wash/paint/take care of kids/drive/make decisions/breathe without my help.”

It saddens me that, in today’s world, everyone has turned into emotional wimps with tissue thick skins.  If you insult a woman, you’re insensitive and a mysogynist.  If you insult any minority you’re a racist.  If you insult a homosexual, you’re a homophobe (which, by the definition of phobia, doesn’t equate).  You can’t make fun of drinking (Andy Griffith Show, Foster Brooks) or people that are overweight, or single parents or anything.  The only gender/race left?  Average white guy.

You know what?  It’s boring!

My motto is this.  “Welcome to America.  Where freedom of speech means you’re free to be offended.”  There’s one show that exemplified how political correctness can destroy effective storytelling.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The cast of characters include:

  • A boy whose so smart he could be a man.
  • An android that longs to be human
  • A human raised Klingon
  • An overly emotional mind reader
  • A captain who’d rather have a meeting than go down and kick some ass.
  • A first officer who did little more than object during these boring staff meetings.
  • A crew that never ran in the halls during a red alert.  Ever.  “La-dee-dah-dah.”

What do all of these character choices have in common?  They are all heading toward the same, generic place.  Because, in a politically correct world, everyone has a back story that excuses their behavior and everyone is striving for the betterment of others.  That’s a nice Judeo/Christian approach to life and the world would be a much better place if that were true, but it isn’t (see ISIS beheading and crucifying people, child abuse, sex industry, indentured workers, North Korean prison camps, etc.)

However, political correctness is a horrendous storytelling choice.  As a matter of fact, choose the opposite.  For example, you know what would have made an awesome Star Trek: The Next Generation?

  • A boy whose frickin’ smart, but immature as hell
  • An android who thinks humans are inferior
  • A Klingon whose 100% ass kicking Klingon all the time.
  • A mind reader that is emotionally unstable
  • A captain who leaps before he looks
  • A first officer who would do just about anything to take the captain’s job

Force those people to share a ship, work on the same bridge, and watch the drama unfold to epic proportions.  BOOM!

Drama comes from conflict.  Political correctness tries (and fails miserably) to smooth out our natural (and sometimes unhealthy) differences, trying to make everyone the same.  Here’s the deal people.  Women and men are different.  Embrace those differences.  Cultures are different.  Embrace the differences.  Financial classes are different.  Embrace the differences.

It doesn’t mean someone should be held back because of any of those differences.  It means, as a storyteller, you need to embrace those differences.  That’s what makes things interesting.  That makes conflict.  That makes drama.

That makes fun storytelling.

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