The Christmas spirit—starting in November for most—has brought on favorable family traditions of decorating Christmas trees, making holiday sweets, building snowmen, and bundling up with hot cocoa to watch classic holiday films (or the preferred Hallmark holiday dramas). However, the film “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964) has been under fire for being politically incorrect by portraying a problematic plot line with “Yearly reminder that #Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a parable on racism and homophobia w/ Santa as a bigoted exploitative prick,” tweeted by actor Garytt Proirier and highlighted in a HuffPost video.
The so-called “problematic” plot line contains protagonist Rudolph who indeed has a glowing red nose which is a unique feature compared to his peers. To recall, his peers judge him for his glowing red nose which then leaves Rudolph to fend for his own. He ends up saving the day when he uses his nose to guide Santa Clause through the harsh weather.
In 1917, the term “political correctness” first appeared in Marxist-Leninist Vocabulary following the Russian Revolution. Originally, the term had the intent to substitute vulgar language with the least offensive substitute. Through time, it has been commonly used to ridicule alternating language that can change public perceptions and influence multiple outcomes regarding race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation.
Today, political correctness is viewed as a form of self- censorship that places limits on speech with the intent to lessen offensive group stereotypes and common prejudices. This commonality is said to be on the rise from the activism of “Generation Snowflake.” The snowflake generation earned it’s ranking on the Collins English Dictionary words of the year (2016) defining Millennials (23-38 years old) as “the generation of people who became adults in the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations.” In January of 2018, it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary due to its significant rise in popularity. Meanwhile, opposing parties refer to the term as a direct description of “younger people” that often includes Millennials and Generation Z (7-22 years old).
Politically, Emeritus Professor Norman Fairclough of Linguistics at the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University, approaches the controversy in Political Correctness: The Politics of Culture and Language. He references the term as “cultural” politics directed at the changing values, identities, and representations with the intent of changing culture and discourse. Criticism of political controversy have been attempted by majority feminists and anti-racists to “persuade organizations such as workplaces or universities to adopt guidelines which asks people to think about how they act and speak, to avoid certain behavior and language (e.g. sexist language), and to adopt alternatives” (Fairclough, 20-21).
In the works of comedy, the frequently asked question, “Is political correctness killing comedy?” American comedian, Jerry Seinfeld thinks so. In a recent episode of “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” comedian and television host Seth Meyers speaks out about political correctness in comedy by saying, “comedy, I do think, is supposed to push towards the lines of the medium. There are more people now who will let you know if they think you went over the line than ever before.” Seinfeld in response said, “Yeah, but they keep moving the lines in for no reason. There is a creepy PC [political controversy] thing out there that really bothers me.” Since an individual can interpret a situation in infinite directions, it’s hard to decipher what’s crossing the line and if there even is a definitive line to begin with.
Moving forward, it’s hard to say whether Generation Snowflake will melt or remain in crystallization regarding political correctness. Say what you will, however, have the facts to back it up.