When it comes to pop culture ─ or at least today’s millennial version of it ─ I’ll readily admit I’m not “hip.” Probably because I’m hip to other things that interest me and my generation more (and millennials less). But isn’t that what diversity is all about? So, excuse me for coming a little late to yet another attack on common sense in the name of political correctness that has only recently come to my attention.
Back in December, Angelica Florio wrote an article for the Bustle website titled, “These 13 Jokes From ‘Seinfeld’ Are Super Offensive Now ─ Yes, That Includes the ‘Soup Nazi.'” Bustle is an online magazine with a decidedly liberal bent for millennial women featuring news, politics, celebrities, beauty and fashion trends. It boasts of a following of more than 50 million monthly readers, of which I am not.
Scouring past episodes of Seinfeld over its 10-year run from 1989-1998, Florio labored to draw up a damning list of offenses and insensitivities she described as “alienating marginalized groups in order to make people laugh.” Among them were Kramer convincing George to park in a handicap spot, use of the term “Indian Giver” joking about a Native American, Jerry and George correcting a journalist who thought they were a gay couple (with Jerry uttering the famous line, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”) and George dating a woman that Kramer described as having a large nose. You get the drift.
In another episode on Florio’s hit list, Jerry tells Elaine that he loves Chinese women and asks “If I like their race, how can that be racist?” About which Florio nitpicks, “Hopefully the issues with that exchange don’t require further explanation for anyone in 2018.” Huh? It sure requires further explanation for me. What the heck is racist about that?
As for the “Soup Nazi” episode, that became a Seinfeld classic, the target of that label was a nasty proprietor who abused his customers crowding in-line for delicious offerings at a take-out soup shop. As the dictator of the soup kitchen he would shout, “No soup for you!” to anyone who incurred his disfavor. “Soup Nazi” was a metaphor that Florio somehow equated with joking about real Neo-Nazis today. This is doubly ironic as media progressives and radical Democrats have rendered the term meaningless by absurdly branding Republican presidents they disagree with as Nazis. Not just Trump, but George W. Bush, as well.
The episode in which Jerry and George explained that they were just friends not a gay couple actually won a media award from the gay-activist group, GLADD, for its positive treatment of gay and lesbian relationships.
Seinfeld has been acclaimed as one of the greatest and most popular sitcoms ever, praised by publications as diverse as TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. The Writers Guild of America voted it the No. 2 Best Written TV Series of All Time (second to The Sopranos).
The humorless and sanctimonious Ms. Florio takes comfort in how much times have changed and proclaims, “Thanks to more modern understandings of what political correctness entails ─ and why being PC is so important ─ it’s less common these days to find jokes like the offensive ones that often played out on Seinfeld.”
I agree that times have changed but not for the good. PC is indeed “important,” but only as a lesson in this biased and suffocating assault on freedom of expression. This is the mentality that metastasizes into the excesses of Puritanism and the Salem Witch Trials in 17th Century Massachusetts. Or the oppression of dissent by Chairman Mao’s Red Guards during Communist China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.
Today’s PC police are constantly raising the ante on hypersensitivity in an accelerating competition to manufacture subjective outrage where none objectively exists. Ironically, it’s intolerance in the name of tolerance.
Millennials like Florio are the generation of school kids coddled and reared on self-esteem even when undeserved. Nannyists and helicopter moms banned scorekeeping in their sporting events so there would be no winners or losers, with everyone getting a “participation trophy.” In college, they were (and still are) sheltered from viewpoints that might make them feel uncomfortable or emotionally threatened. They were told that they had a right “not to be offended” by someone else’s opinions that weren’t sufficiently “progressive.” This has been a very poor preparation for life in the real world after school. Is it any wonder they prefer socialism to capitalism, although they understand neither?
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.