Is it just me or does the world seem to have blown up with the social consequences of social media? Folks are posting ill-considered thoughts or pics on a variety of platforms (mostly Twitter and FB), and getting hammered by outrage. It isn’t that what they post is not stupid, but I wonder if the backlash is disproportionate. Off the top of my head here is an abbreviated list: Julianne Hough (A Dancing with the Stars dancer) went to a Halloween party in black face to celebrate her favorite actress on Orange is the New Black; Steve Martin tweeted an unfortunate joke with racial overtones; and an episode of How I met Your Mother dressed up in “yellow face” to celebrate Kung Fu movies. Social media erupted in all cases.
I’ve seen a cogent argument that this is no more than the Town Square of yesteryear. 150 years ago we weren’t connected by anything more than a wagon road and a close knit town, so if you were an ass, you got the “social consequences.” Since then we’ve been spoiled by relative anonymity and privacy, so this is nothing but a “rebalancing.” But I disagree – do we really want to go back to child labor, jim crow, and prohibition? I maintain, 20th century anonymity is progress. I don’t wanna go back. Most frighteningly, these aren’t neo-nazis, these are reg’lar folks making a faux pas. (As an aside, the conclusion is that a Chinese-American’s daughter is disallowed from dressing up as her hero, Martin Luther King, Jr., because you are only allowed to celebrate heroes within your gender/racial make-up).
All of which is a long-winded way of saying I’ve felt chilled lately – free speech wise – when it comes to blogging. Am I gonna say something off the cuff, and come to regret it? I know, I know, my blog is read by an audience numbering in the ones, so you’re probably thinking I’m complaining above my pay grade. And I am. But I’ve felt shy nonetheless.
Lately I’ve run across the story of the Beastie Boys complaining about a girls’ toy company making fast and loose with one of their old songs. The song may be misogynist depending on your opinion, and the toy company made lemonade out of the lemon. The Beastie Boys, semi-agreed, and applauded the message, but not the messenger – “We’ve never allowed commercial entities to use our art” (to paraphrase). Social media slammed them as “douchebags” (which seems a bit misogynist to me. Why not “unwashed jockstraps?” Anyhoo…)
But I’m with the Beasties – all bets are off when you are selling something, no matter how “cool” the message.
Anyway, for Music Fridays, here is the original song, and the toy commercial, and an invitation for your comment. But if you don’t like what I said, please don’t put me in the stocks of the new town square.