You are about to be offended. The fact that I even have to open an article with that statement infuriates me. But, since we live in an age of instant communication, where no one listens and everyone insists on shouting, I feel like it’s important to warn you that this is an editorial covering topics that are going to make you mad either at society or at me. Either way, you’ve been warned.
I’m about to offend you and unless you can come up with a logic-based and rationally delivered explanation as to why I should care, I suggest you either read something else or get ready to suck it up and move on with your life. I’ve finally hit the wall as far as all this puritanical censorship masquerading as a social justice crusade. Roseanne’s a racist. James Gunn thought that rape and pedophilia were funny. Hell, he may still think that they’re funny, though I suspect getting fired by Disney on Friday probably changed his mind. It’s just the latest in a series of current events that continues to baffle, disappoint and infuriate damn near everyone and I’m starting to wonder if people have just forgotten that, as a whole, humanity is shit or if they’re really that assured of their own individual superiority over their fellow man.
I’m not a MCU/Disney fanboy by any means. I’ve proven that time and again with my opinions on superhero and Star Wars-themed films. And if you’re expecting me to defend what James Gunn said, you’re also incorrect. His comments were disgusting and that’s saying something from a guy who spent over a decade in emergency service and heard (and shared) more than a few tasteless jokes to help mitigate the mental trauma of some of the things I experienced. But, as a man who also spent years in a bad marriage and suffered from illness and issues pertaining to that same job, I can say that I used to be a drastically different person who said some things that I cringe to even think of.
I’ve spent several years atoning for my sins, as it were, trying my best to make a new life. So, it’s a little disheartening to think that I could one day be teetering on the verge of personal or professional success, only to have something I said a decade or more ago be brought up and used as a weapon against me. But, like James Gunn, it’s a definite possibility for me and millions of people like me who have been on social media in one form or another since the dawn of the internet. From chat rooms, Livejournal and… ugh… MySpace, there’s plenty of deplorable fodder to be found about anyone who has used the internet since 1995. But the problem is, no one cares about it until someone makes it big.
We all knew Roseanne was batshit crazy and about as deep into a set of jackboots as they come when the announcement was made that they were bringing the Conner family back to television. We knew it was only a matter of time before she said something that caused the immediate implosion of the show and, if it hadn’t happened fast enough, someone would have pulled up videos or a tweet from somewhere in the last decade to remind us of the terrible person she was/is to facilitate that end.
Because the internet isn’t full of intellectuals and it damn sure isn’t peopled by social justice warriors who just want to see a better tomorrow. The internet is for trolls. Sometimes bad people remain bad people and open their mouths (or apps) and say things that shock us, even though we know they’re horrible human beings. And sometimes people take it upon themselves to dig through the backlog of thousands, even millions of comments to find that same sort of ammunition to assassinate any character or career they choose.
Even writing this editorial as a Z-List nobody, I worry that my opinion on the matter will be enough to completely ruin my career. It’s why I almost immediately deleted a similar post I made on my own website because once you infuriate someone, they won’t let go until they feel like they’ve gotten even with you. With a mental illness like that running through the minds and fingertips of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions in general around the world, is it any wonder we’re all so damn miserable in 2018?
So, what comes next? We’ve got an entire generation coming up right now that never knew the pre-internet world. Another generation behind them that never knew the world without social media. We literally have kids coming of age now in a world that will never give them a chance. Some 12-year-old boy is playing Call of Duty right now using every swear word he just learned on Urban Dictionary and the internet won’t forget. When he goes for a job interview, tries to make a name for himself in some way in the world, someone will be there to remind him that he used a slur 15 years ago and is therefore a racist and unfit to take any positive role in society. It doesn’t matter if that kid grew up to be a humanitarian or some kind of hero or scholar. He could cure cancer, but there would be a great group of people out there trying to absolutely destroy him because of what the internet remembers.
Think I’m grasping at straws? Look at the way things go viral now, how a poorly autocorrected text can suddenly turn into a hilarious joke on Ellen in the afternoon and, by the end of the week, become a meme that’s literally made it around the world. It’s cool to be a viral success at 15. It’s not cool to have a potential employer bring it up in an interview at 23.
So, in a land where free speech is touted as the most sacred and inviolable right of all, how long does a person have to wait before things they said in the past are no longer associated with them? I see clickbait articles that take some of the most revered and celebrated humanitarians in history that dredge up every nasty thing they ever did. Gandhi was a pervert and, likely, a bit of a pedo. Mother Teresa was a racist. Joan of Arc was murder hungry. We have an entire industry that has grown up around finding out how bad of a person you may have once been and sharing it with the world in listicle form. If you think you’re actually able to grow, change and become a better person in the age of Twitter, you’re mistaken because the internet never forgets and it never forgives. It’s a lesson being learned daily.
Like Roseanne, James Gunn’s career is probably over. As a father and former young boy, I can’t say that I’m too broke up about that. As someone who has enjoyed South Park, Family Guy, American Dad, Troma, Adult Swim, Cyanide & Happiness, The Oatmeal, Cards Against Humanity and countless other critically acclaimed and absolutely tasteless forms of entertainment, I think it’s a bit ridiculous. I also think I’m not done with this topic by a long shot, but, I’ve overrun my word limit by nearly twice the standard post size.
Do you agree?
Do you disagree?
Did you literally read the title of the article, the two line blurb attached to it and form your opinion without reading a single word I wrote?
I look at site statistics and I follow trends in social media. I know the answer to those questions without you saying a word. Be sure to share your outrage and indignation as vociferously as possible. It’s the American way.