So my home province of Quebec is going through an interesting episode of media censorship. A couple weeks back, two comedians were told by the producers of Quebec’s comedy awards TV show that the skit they had prepared was deemed « uninsurable » and thus had to be cut out of the live program. My first reaction was (after wondering wait what? TV shows are insured for content?): I need to see this skit.
The comedic duo was happy to oblige. After performing the banned bit in a comedy club, they uploaded the footage to YouTube. Now, there’s no point in watching it unless you’re fluent in Québécois and are somewhat well acquainted with Quebec’s deeply self-referential star system (that’s another article right there.) The skit is wholly unremarkable, if not good for a few juvenile chuckles. Among other highlights, it compares one of the pair’s physique to that of a local celebrity, a heavy-set lesbian. Newsflash: every chubby man looks like a chubby lesbian and vice-versa. Chub is chub.
Anyway, the newsworthy aspect of this incident is the fact that Quebec’s media, a traditionally non-puritanical group of people and institutions, has embarked on the PC bandwagon.
I feel like this is a blanket response by institutions to knee-jerk, out-of-context social media outrage (which has cost people like Justine Sacco their reputation and their job, all because of a single gauche tweet). Twitter group hysteria is one thing, but when an insurer starts deciding what can and cannot be said on a comedy show, it feels like we’ve reached an untenable point.
In the end, the awards show was interrupted by a group of comedians who took the stage with their mouths covered in a mask inscribed with a red “X”, as a form of quiet protest. Some commentators rightly pointed out that the censored material was low-brow and probably not worth all the drama. But if the bar for censorship is set so low, can comedians reasonably be expected to aim higher?
What do you think: have we reached peak PC? In 20, 30 years, are we going to look back on this era and think we were all adorably prude? Or are we irreversibly cutting ties with brash humor and jest?