Halloween, Geisha Girls and Fat Bastard

October 30, 2011 on 5:25 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Whinges | Comments Off on Halloween, Geisha Girls and Fat Bastard

I like Emily Post’s definition of good manners, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” I wonder sometimes if the whole phenomenon we know as “political correctness” is a hammer-over-the-head attempt to fill a good-manners gap.

Political correctness, we know, is that way of being where we avoid saying something or doing something that might possibly marginalize, insult or exclude any one group of people. There’s loads of famous over-the-top examples of political correctness gone wild: holiday trees for Christmas trees, chalkboard for blackboard and, in one great fictitious example, “The Simpsons'”, Seymour Skinner’s “Italian-American Sauced Bread Day” for “Pizza Day”.

I take good manners over (good-intentioned) “political correctness” anyday. What can beat good manners with a splash of the golden rule?

So we come to Halloween. You may’ve seen the recent bit of news around the students from Ohio University and their well-meaning Halloween “we’re a culture, not a costume” ad campaign. The campaign was, or is, intended to underscore the huge offense in firing up Halloween costumes that promote cultural stereotypes. Images of Mexican, African-American, Japanese and Native, or aboriginal, American were among those put forward.

Now there’s no doubt, to my way of thinking, that there is merit, in seeking to educate people about offensive cultural stereotypes. But all this press, this talk, this noise, got me thinking: what’s with the on-going societal permissiveness of British-based stereotypes? Really.

This may be a surprise to UK readers but to Canadian and American (and Australia, New Zealand and, perhaps, assorted other Commonwealth countries) this is real: the cheap, er, “frugal” Scot, the drunken, fight-ready Ulsterman and the snooty, emotionally cold Englishman are all common themes on the storyboards of most global advertising agencies. Fair game. And no one blinks an eye.

While today a kid doing the Halloween rounds dressed as James Fenimore Cooper’s Mohican, Chingachgook, may be totally and completely politically incorrect, it seems odd to me that it’s all well and good for that same kid’s pal to do the rounds as Austin Power’s Scottish “Fat Bastard”.

What a complicated world we live in.


No Comments yet

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Dunaber is using WordPress customized and designed by Yoann Le Goff from A Eneb Productions. feeds rss Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS.