I am no avid consumer of celebrity culture or politics. I run the opposite direction when I see the newest scandal or upset. I have no desire to engage in frivolous online arguments or even read for five seconds about the newest crazy thing media is desperate to hook you into with painfully obvious click bait. I refuse to feed it by reading it.
There are lots of reasons why I refuse to read that drivel, but me being me, I wanted to understand what my root reason behind it is. Sometimes the best way for me to understand myself is to write about it, thus, this post.
I’ve found more and more often that the root of it is this: I absolutely do not want to read about the newest thing a person/people/group is explosively offended about because it’s usually so petty as to verge on completely trivial. Let me explore a few examples with you…
Naming a local monument. Offended.
- A monument in my city was being named after a white guy. The quote I heard? “The last thing this world needs is more things named after old white dudes.”
- I understand the sentiment behind it. More diversity is better as historically “old white dudes” have had their fair share of nominations. But this could be completely ignoring truly meaningful contributions this person made to the community, shoving the name aside because the person happens to be a man and happens to be white. So isn’t that in fact pretty sexist against men? …unpopular opinions, here they come.
Commercials from the Superbowl. Offended.
- Some ads got pegged as being sexist or racist (I think many people stretching to get there, but with some valid feedback where the commercials could have thrown a little more thoughtfulness into the writing). The below link was pegged for being sexist when a young woman driver gets distracted by Ryan Reynolds…Do you think this is sexist?
- One of the more notably ridiculous reactions was about Doritos. A pro-choice group complained bitterly because a Doritos commercial humanized an un-born baby when it reacted in the womb to a nearby Dorito. Yes. This is real. Thankfully, I think almost everyone thought the group’s reaction, to this and other commercials, was a little nuts.
A billboard from an X-Men movie? Offended.
- The billboard was a picture of the male villain choking Mystique, a female character. Surely that promotes violence against women? (the story here) …well, it is a super-hero beat-em-up movie so…everyone’s getting equally violenced upon.
- Was it the best picture to feature? Maybe not. Did it deserve a giant outcry because it was obviously encouraging violence against women? No.
One of my favourites this year comes from my homeland, Canada. The incident was quickly dubbed ‘Elbow-gate.’ Our Prime Minister, while crossing the floor of the House of Commons to escort someone out of a crowd blocking a person’s way, kinda-sorta bumped a woman standing in the crowd.
The parties were outraged. Media blew up. The opposing party described it as physical brutality against women. Sounds reasonable…uh huh. Sure.
The look of utter scandalized shock on this woman’s face is so blown out of proportion you’d think Trudeau had full-on grabbed her chest. When I watched the video, I burst out laughing. Comments about this light brush with an elbow–or brutal attack–included the NDP Leader Tom Mulcair shouting, “What kind of man elbows a woman? It’s pathetic! You’re pathetic!” The incident was also “deeply traumatic.” (story here) Wow. If that was deeply traumatic, then never ever lay eyes upon an elementary school playground. Those elbows be flying!
The true story coming out of that meeting of leaders should have been the absolutely HUGE topic the parties were debating: Physician-assisted suicide. A bigger deal, yes? Guess not. Who cares about that, when we can talk about how this accident was a sexist attack on women!
We are we so quick to want to be offended?
There are some things that should be brought forward for awareness. There are shockingly racist incidents coming out of the United States that baffle me. Countries that will throw you in jail or execute you if you practice a different religion. Countries that force children to labour under terrible conditions. Countries that deny education to women only because they are women. These are circumstances that absolutely deserve those who have the freedom and voice to fight to stand up and loudly declare it’s wrong.
But let’s be truthful with ourselves. Some people are looking to get offended. In fact, I think there are people who look to define themselves by what to get offended at, people who deliberately pick things apart not to be mindful of the media they are consuming but to dredge out any link to their favourite ‘offence.’
*Sarcasm full on here* Why not choose inconsequential things to get upset over? Surely that’s easier than doing your research, understanding the issue, and doing something to help solve the problem.
I wonder if it makes some folks feel like they’re fighting for something, for gender equality, for tolerance, for awareness, when the actual battles being fought are a little farther away than our ‘first-world problem’ shores or in not-so-public forums, and so the outcry doesn’t hit quite right. Those battles are in darker corners of our society than a billboard, tucked away inside homes where abuse is hidden, where racist words are thrown from car windows. Where it’s easier to bash a celebrity for making an out of context comment than turn to your family member when they say something racist and have a conversation about it.
I ask you, before a flash of ‘I’m offended’ rolls over you like a fever, think about it before you comment on social media where things get overblown and petty in seconds or add to the ravenous mob eagerly awaiting the next thing to rally *awareness* around.
It’s easier to be loud and angry, then be quiet and effective. Choose to be effective.