Nick Ahad

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - BOOKS -

“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; Ed­i­to­rial: Sarah Free­man tel 0113 238 8952;­

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