Put an End to Political Correctness in the Arts

Kyle Dixon, Staff Writer

In the year 2017, every word, every sentence and every phrase appears to be offensive to someone, somewhere. As this conundrum has been prevalent for many decades, it has affected the books and movies that have been produced over the years, regardless of the fact that most of them have been praised as “classics.” This is detrimental for the literary and film industries due to the fact that it limits originality and creativity.

A well-known example of this type of ideology interfering with art would be J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. Following its publishing, the book quickly became one of the most censored pieces of literature due to the swearing, sexual references and otherwise inappropriate behavior of the protagonist; opposers of the book even went as far as to have it banned in schools across America. Despite it being hailed as a masterpiece over six decades later, many individuals still take issue with the book’s content, limiting the chances of something similar being created again.

However, with literature beginning its descent into a thing of the past, movies have replaced it as the main source of public entertainment. As a result, controversy and campaigns for political correctness have followed the film industry as closely as the literary one, if not more so.

A prominent example of this would be the 2011 film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Although it received many positive reviews, the movie was heavily criticized for its portrayal of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

The film, which follows a young boy’s journey across Manhattan after the death of his father in these attacks, was based off of a book of the same name, and while the book also received mixed reviews, the negative ones focused on the writing style rather than the plot, siting the former as pretentious and artificial.

Reviewers of the film either did not want it to offend or upset those who actually witnessed the 9/11 attacks or were offended themselves, resulting in bad word of mouth for the movie. While this is understandable, what is confusing is that reviewers of the book did not focus their critiques on the terrorist attack, despite it being as prevalent in the book as it is in the movie, calling into question whether or not the event is even a negative aspect of either. This would not be an issue if the film had been successful. However, that was not the case, and, as a result, the book is remembered more than the film adaptation, despite the fact that, according to popular opinion, both are excellent.

It is, of course, natural for one to be concerned about the effects that something like The Catcher in the Rye or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close can have on a general audience. However, protecting specific individuals and preventing art from gaining success, or even being created in the first place, are two things that should not be intertwined. A specific book or movie may include bad behavior or refer to a horrific event, but, in the end, art is only a reflection of reality and condemning it has no effect on the faults of the world.