There’s been a lot of talk these past couple days about a certain promotional video for a certain upcoming video game that uses certain derogatory slurs towards women and gay men for a certain comedic effect on a certain predominantly young male audience. I won’t talk about it in detail here, because quite a few people have already done so, and to be honest, there are a lot of games these days that are being marketed in a similar way — a lot of media in general, even. However, what I do have a few choice words for is the overarching trend for “edginess” that’s altogether too prevalent in today’s society. You know what I’m talking about: the excuse that “we’re saying it to be ironic; nobody’s REALLY sexist/racist/homophobic anymore”, where people perceive that progressives — or what they call the “PC police” — have “taken things too far” with “limiting free speech”, meaning that if anyone’s in the least bit outraged by what one has to say, it’s become some kind of a badge of honour. It’s a view so prevalent, in fact, that marketing executives apparently think they’ll sell more copies of whatever it is they’re peddling if they appeal to it.
Of course, the problem is, no one’s really being edgy. Edginess is biting social commentary. It’s supposed to change the way we think about the world, make us feel uncomfortable, turn us into better, more informed people in the process. What I describe above does nothing of the sort — the people who are made uncomfortable are those of groups the slurs in question are directed towards: slurs that, regardless of what we want to believe, still have power to harm and ostracise and even lead to violence. The only ones laughing are those with the luxury of never having experienced anything remotely similar. No one is experiencing any kind of paradigm shift or seeing the world from a new vantage point. Instead, everyone gets to continue holding their ground, staying in a place that’s easy and familiar. That’s not edgy to me. It’s the status quo.
As for irony? Well, let’s just say that if the people you’re purportedly mocking are able to laugh at your joke and continue to inflict pain on others with a clear conscience, then you’ve pretty much failed to convey your message.