However you look at it, 2014 was the year of being offended.
December 23, 2014
But it does mean you’re human…
If you’re not willing to read all of Russ Douthat’s brilliant article from the New York Times, here’s the first paragraph:
Of course it had to escalate this way. We live in a time of consistent gutlessness on the part of institutions notionally committed to free speech and intellectual diversity, a time of canceled commencement invitations and C.E.O.s defenestrated for their political donations, a time of Twitter mobs, trigger warnings and cringing public apologies. A time when journalists and publishers tiptoe around Islamic fundamentalism, when free speech is under increasing pressure on both sides of the Atlantic, when a hypersensitive political correctness has the whip hand on many college campuses.
And then Kim Jong-Un took offense at a low-brow comedy (The Interview) and took down the movie studio that produced it. Humiliated them anyway. Which was deeply sad, funny and troubling all at the same time. Those emails were priceless. Undermining a company not so much.
However you look at it, 2014 was the year of being offended. In big ways (Black Lives Matter) and in myriad small ways (U2 forcing an album upon us), America got offended. Over and over again. Whether you listed right (Fox News) or left (CNN), everyone was upset at someone. More so than usual. Way more.
Among the many ironies is that popular culture (in particular our movies and television shows) can be viewed as the egregious button pushers. The not-even-seen The Interview is but the latest “film” to push decency into the cellar and keep right on digging. From Rogen’s turn in Neighbors to the unbelievably crude machinations of Workaholics, sacred cows have been tipped. Herds of them. Frankly, the years leading up to The Interview were what led to The Interview. Borat. Bridesmaids. East Bound and Down, The Hangover. Amy Schumer. Girls. Louis CK. Bad Grandpa. And those are just some of the good ones. My point. There was nothing left to satirize besides North Korea! Last year we were agog at Miley Cyrus. “Twerking” was runner up to “Selfie” as word of the year. How quaint that seems now.
Is being offensive and/or being offended (take your pick) part of human nature? It must be. Because we can’t stop.
Concurrent to all this silliness, and where it got heated and continues to roil, is in this country’s dismal relations between races. All races. Between immigration issues with Mexico, the killing of unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York, beheadings by ISIS, genocide in Syria, espionage by North Korea and now even Cuba (again) the global melting pot is boiling over. Getting offended has become violent and grotesque and anything but funny. Malicious cops. And malicious cop killers. We have become so offended by one another we’ve taken to the streets: spectating, protesting, looting and maiming. The mob rules. The genie is out of the bottle… and Tweeting. The inmates are running the asylum… and posting on Instagram.
This is why The Walking Dead is so popular. We are them.