It seems that an advert on British television, whereupon a slim woman confronts her former chubby self - has been banned by the advertising standards people who are in charge of this sort of thing. I remember the advert, a fairly mundane feature where a rather smug, svelte, and well groomed woman patronises herself for being overweight.
I only recognised the advert because it always raised a wry smile within me and thought those advertising Johnnies had got a their way around calling someone fat by having ‘themselves’ do it. You see, nowadays we mustn’t be beastly to anyone, as it might be construed to be offensive bullying.
Now then folks, as a grown-up chap of more than 60 summers I do know the difference between being frank and downright insulting; but who else in authority out there does? We are told that doctors are loathe to ask their obese patients to consider losing some weight in case they are reported to the British Medical Council for ‘chubby-chastening.’ I know I shouldn’t make fun of such a ludicrous scenario, but the fact is that plain talking can get you into big trouble in the modern world.
Oh for a simpler age when Yorkshire folk would “Call a spade a bloody shovel” and we all hated them for it didn’t we? Well, no actually, it’s just that the balance between civility and candour seems to have swung back the other way quite alarmingly. If you expect this columnist to rant and rave like others about “Political correctness gone mad” I’m afraid you are in for a major disappointment.
I am of a generation that can remember the blind prejudices of the sign outside of rented accommodation, proclaiming sickeningly “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs.” So, sometimes political-correctness is both warranted and a positive element in society. However, as always there are those among us who will, and can find, offence in almost anything. The trouble may be that over the years society has recruited armies of busybodies who sole aim in life is to justify their very existence.
If you are in charge of your local ‘Slightly Overweight Person Protection Agency’ you’d be dead set against anyone, including doctors, telling your clients to lay off the pizzas and pints now wouldn’t you? The trouble is, I don’t know who I dislike more; the vulgarian who calls a person fat, or the Nazi who wants to send that person on a self-enlightenment course for having such an unworthy thought.
Take for instance what has happened on television over the past 40 years. When I watch old comedies or sitcoms I blanch at some of the language used and the stereotypes employed. Some programmes like Till Death Us Do Part, were crude and edgy, but basically made the point that bigotry could be both ludicrous and funny.
Other shows were less successful, in that they sought to reinforce old prejudices whether the target of their limp mirth were either black, gay, or on many occasions unforgivably, just women in general. In all of this, what is missing is, and was, any sense of proportion, as in - political correctness versus crude prejudice. In actual fact, life isn’t like that at all is it?
Let me rehearse a number of left wing sacred cows and see how they stand up to scrutiny. Don’t worry I will come to some right-wing rantings a little later. Has it ever crossed any British leftists mind, why so many migrants or refugees were holed-up for so long in ‘The Jungle’ desperately trying to gain entry in Britain - a Britain that the far-left tell us is under attack from “savage welfare cuts” brought about by “Tory scum” ?
You would think that those refugee folk holed-up-in Calais would be more than happy to keep away from Britain’s so-called “broken welfare system” and stay put in France where we are told that their government is much more sympathetic to their plight, rather than appearing determined to get to Blighty by almost any means possible.
Funny that! I wonder how could that be? And so to the right wing of British political, who if you study these things, despise the British people as much as the “Toy-town Trots” of the far left. You see, these men (they are always men) want to return to a simpler world of 1886 where you invaded a chaps country and shot him if he complained. This powerful grouping is also known as the Imperialist right and they are quite mad.
They have never taken to foreigners and were furious, and still are, at the very thought of Europe. Basically, they believe that they have a God given right to run Great Britain; not anyone else, just them and them alone. They also have their fingers in every profitable pie ever known to man. Influence is their by-word and for them the democratic process is for us plebs as they can always buy their way into any sort of influence or shiny royal ‘gong’ that might come up for sale at any given time - heaven forfend!
However, do you know what upsets me most about modern life? If push-comes-to-shove, it has to be the undoubted fact that nobody ever seems to try to see an issue, any issue, other than in sharp focus black & white.
Social media is alive with fake news, jut-jawed certainties, and specious conspiracy theories. Wider society is in the grip of both a ‘victim culture’ allied to an unarguable coarsening of simple things like good manners and the ability to both listen carefully yet disagree profoundly. Could it be that amongst all this noise we have actually stopped listening to each other?