We are going through “Security” at the L.A. airport, our “Paperce” surrendered to an official-looking female “Gate Keeper”, when I twinklingly remark to my accompanying family,
“She looks tough, doesn’t she?”
And she gets (at least mock) annoyed.
“‘She looks tough’? Hmph! Why didn’t you say, ‘She looks ravishing’?”
My stammering response is in the vicinity of,
“That goes without saying.”
But it was too late. I mean, geez, I had never even imagined her suggestion, sticking instead to a minimal level of potential personal offence, because, yeah…
In this (overdue) era of harassment sensitivity, I’m going to tell some anonymous Authority Figure she looks “ravishing”?
How exactly would that be received?
This isn’t about that, though it reflects similar dynamics as “an opportunity for (possibly) offence.” Like all demonstrable grievances, there are legitimate ones worthy of serious response, and there are,
“It’s six-thirty A.M. at the airport and he’s traveling with children. I’m letting this go.”
Again, not saying – to be totally clear – there are not times to go,
But adult people have to – sorry, “have to” just slipped out, but, you know, we’re grownups. We can make reasonable distinctions.
That’s a “soft” right, even though I gave it its own line. Communicational clarity becomes trickier without modulating inflection.
So here – ‘cause I’m in Canada – is a Canadian story along those potential umbrage-inducing lines. You decide if harboring insult in this particular example is appropriate, and, if selected, an acceptable counter-response is “Keep your shirt on, eh?” (A sartorial allusion which itself could create difficulties.)
Here’s the story. An, admittedly, cherry-picked example, but I am assuming the blogger’s recognized “Cherry-Picking Prerogative.”
The iconic SCTV, produced in Alberta, Canada. With a Canadian overseeing producer.
They are performing this sketch, wherein the scene’s blowhard “Wise Guy” character delivers this disparaging put-down:
“Where’re you from, Cleveland?
The director calls “Cut!” The “creatives” are satisfied, but the producer has the determining say. Will it be “Moving on” or “Try it again”?
The producer has a troubling “concern.” Though SCTV is meant for multi-national distribution, why this American reference to “Cleveland”? Could they not instead select a Canadian reference?
The “creatives” shruggingly defer, making the requested adjustment. The scene is reshot.
Relevant Comedy Note: Words with the hard “K” sound are demonstrably funny. “Pickle” is funny. “Cucumber” is funny. “Celery” is not funny. Okay, it’s a little funny, especially the wilty kind. But it is not as reliable as “Pumpernickel.”
They have replaced the “intruding” American reference with a Canadian locale, sharing the dependable hard “K.” In the revised version, where they had before said,
“Where’re you from, Cleveland?”
They now instead say,
“Where’re you from, Monckton?”
The director calls “Cut!” The “creatives” are happy. They have bowed to the producer without jeopardizing the “funny.”
The producer approaches, all are convinced, to “Green light” the move forward. But instead, the first words out of his mouth are,
“What have you got against Monckton?”
So there’s that.
You select the appropriate word for the “funny” and inadvertently catch heck. For selecting any place. In Canada. For selective disparagement.
I am supportively on board with gender and cultural sensitivity. I just don’t always know where the line is. And when someone preemptively draws that line for me…
I don’t know.
Does that bug anyone else?
Or is it, once again, just me?