You’ve probably heard about it by now. During the Oscar telecast, one of the brilliant staffers at The Onion sent a tweet out to the world that referred to nine-year-old actress Quvenzhane Wallis using the dreaded “c” word. As far as I’m concerned, whoever it is who wrote the tweet should be looking for a new job right about now.
There are two thoughts I have about this.
First, there are certain words that are just unacceptable. Regardless of the circumstances. They can never be funny. They can never be part of a civil conversation. The “n” word is one. The “f” word for homosexuals is another. And, the “c” word is another. I got involved in a Facebook back and forth about this last night with several representatives of the younger generation. I really hate, by the way, that I am now at a point in my life where I can credibly refer to the “younger generation.”
The consensus from the representatives of the aforementioned generation was that it funny because it was so ridiculous and outrageous. That I should lighten up and have a sense of humor. At one point I asked whether it would have been funny if she was referred to as a N%$$#%$ C$#$@. The response back was “no, that’s racist.” So, it’s not OK to use a word that is racist in a sorry attempt at humor, but it is OK to use a humiliating, sexist word in a sorry attempt at humor. I mean, seriously people. She’s a nine-year-old girl. How can it possibly be funny to refer to her that way?
You know what this is? It’s the rules of the playground now operating in society at large. Somebody mentioned that it appeared to be some type of one-upsmanship battle going on within the Twitter universe regarding the Oscars. Oh, yeah, you think Kristen Stewart looks fat, well, that nine-year old actress is a “c”.
Here’s a novel idea. The rules of the playground belong on the playground. They don’t apply in the rest of the world. And, there’s a reason for that. There are standards of civility that should apply. There are concepts of behavior that should be established regarding what is acceptable and what is not. Calling a nine-year-old girl a “c” is never acceptable. It’s funny because it’s so outrageous? No, actually, it’s funny to you because you’re stupid and, unfortunately, have been raised in an era where everything goes. As long as you can get a giggle out of somebody, or get attention from somebody, it’s all good. Everything goes.
My second thought: This is a perfect example of the horrors of the immediacy of the world we live in. Twitter and Facebook. Texting and Instragram. All of it means there is no time to slow down. To think. To consider the consequences of the words you are about to put out there for the world to see. Whether it is that text to your almost boyfriend that might make him wonder and that might change the calculus of your relationship with him, or the picture that people will now have forever, or the tweet that takes the whole dang conversation to a level it never needed to go to, there is this never-ending need to respond. Immediately. Before you have a chance to consider your options. Before you have a chance to consider what the power of your words will have. Before you can consider alternatives.
It’s ridiculous. I so wish all of these tools for “communication” had a PAUSE button on them. Think. Consider. Wait 24 hours. Then re-evaluate. But, no, we need constant and instant communication on anything and everything.