“Well, that was a bit politically correct.”
Twice in the past month I’ve heard the phrase while driving away from the theatre.
The first occasion I was with my dad.
We had just been to the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster where my own play, The Chef Show, had premiered. My dad is one of those Asian immigrants who adopted his new country with vim, vigour and patriotism. His politics are conservative with a small ‘c’ and, as we drove home he told me he enjoyed my play but wondered if it was a ‘bit lefty’.
He also thought the show – which by any estimation was a success, selling out most venues on its just finished month-long tour – could have done with being a bit funnier. He also thought it was very ‘politically correct’.
It was a play in which two Asian men stood on stage and talked candidly about the issues of racism faced in an curry house on a Saturday night (it is funny, honest). So, yes, I told my dad, it is what might be considered ‘politically correct’, but the phrase held no pejorative connotations for me.
The most recent time I heard the phrase was as I drove away from the Sheffield Crucible on Monday night. I was with a BritishPakistani muslim woman and we had just watched Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the new musical about a teenage boy who wants to go to his school prom in a dress. As we left the theatre she remarked on how politically correct the new musical was and, we agreed, it was a genuinely wonderful thing. We had watched a play in which a young girl in a hijab stands up to a racist bully, in which a teenage drag queen was applauded by his fellow students and where there were a whole mix of races on the stage, including an Asian woman who made no reference to the colour of her skin at any point – she was just a character on stage and it was intensely refreshing to see. It was political correctness gone madly brilliant.
Over the past two or three decades we’ve seen the phrase ‘politically correct’ corrupted and twisted by those with a divisive political agenda. In the same way the would-be autocrat across the Pond mangles language and tries to bend it to his will, we’ve been suckered by the factions who want us at each other’s throats, into believing political correctness is something to be resisted and something that somehow limits our freedoms. This is, of course, nonsense. The truth is that political correctness is about embracing a society that looks as beautifully rainbowed as the cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. And when that happens, everybody wins.
We’ve been suckered into believing political correctness is something to be resisted.
Culture, The Yorkshire Post, No.1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds LS1 1BE. To advertise: Tracey Ball tel 0113 238 8987; email@example.com Editorial: Sarah Freeman tel 0113 238 8952; firstname.lastname@example.org