T.I., Tracy Morgan and the PC Police
The rapper's in trouble for defending the comic's anti-gay rant. But does T.I. have a point?
I'm sure many comics are asking themselves the same question. This year Russell Brand was bashed for joking about 2012 Olympics and the Paralympic Games, Chelsea Handler saw protests after she cracked that Serbia is a disappointment and Gilbert Gottfried got fired after making fun of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. Even the popular Web series Awkward Black Girl was targeted for using the phrase "tranny bitch in heels" in its latest episode.
That same episode featured the term "white nigga" and jabs about the hair of cancer patients, but I suppose those demos have to get their own reps to file formal complaints.
The only way Morgan and the rest of these entertainers will avoid any future bad press is if they craft politically correct shticks. But as Whoopi Goldberg told her co-panelists on The View in defense of Gottfried: "I think that one of the things that people always forget is that comics have never been appropriate ... that's the whole idea."
You don't want to give any group the power to oppress another, yet at the same time, there's something problematic when we seem to be reaching the point where no one can say anything perceived as negative about another group. In response to his own "mean-spirited" jokes at the Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais shared his thoughts on the role of comics with CNN's Piers Morgan: "We use comedy as a sword, a shield, as a medicine, as a getting to know you."
Now, if you're constantly watching your words in order to avoid offending, where does that leave us? T.I.'s example wasn't the best, but there is a growing resistance to any form of comedic ridicule, and that does raise a question: Have we become too obsessed with maintaining political correctness and, as a result, developed hypersensitivity? The way things are going, it won't be long before another comic offers us an opportunity to have that conversation.