Earlier this month, legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld spoke with ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd on his show and discussed his decision not to do his act on college campuses due to the nature of a young audience to be too politically correct. He later defended his comments on Late Night with Seth Meyers. His remarks sparked an outcry from the left and an embracing of Seinfeld by the right. Nowhere was the outrage louder than at Salon, the left-wing mag that specializes in providing liberals and progressives with their daily dose of confirmation bias.
Last week, Salon devoted at least four articles to the “controversy” over Seinfeld’s “anti-PC tirade.” One was a thinkpiece by Sophia A. McClennen in which she directly compared the comedian to conservative gasbags Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh while further suggesting that it was “creepy” that his wife asked their daughter about boys. Another piece was by Arthur Chu, who claimed that the Internet wasn’t a place where there is constantly outsized rage by writing a fucking 2,400-word rage-a-thon about Seinfeld commenting about political correctness. Katla McGlynn called Jerry a “wimp” over his remarks. Also, Salon posted a deceptively titled recap of Real Time with Bill Maher in which it was suggested that Maher and guest Jeff Ross criticized Seinfeld for his comments. (They, in fact, agreed with him wholeheartedly.)
First off, let’s take a look at McClennen’s article. The author really gets going right away by not only bringing up Limbaugh and O’Reilly, but also comparing Seinfeld to Pamela Geller, the noted anti-Islam screecher. She also tosses in some armchair psychology just for good measure.
Let’s start with Seinfeld’s PC bashing. Some say that Seinfeld has the definition of PC wrong, but they are missing the point. Seinfeld knows exactly what PC means: it means that any time you come under scrutiny, you are the victim of a mass effort to deny freedom of expression. Think about it, the only folks that bandy about the term PC are those that think they are being unfairly attacked by mobs of puritanical, humorless, thought police. Sadly the comedian is reading from the playbook of bloviating pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly who can’t possibly imagine that they may actually do something offensive or that they may actually cross the line. Even worse he sounds more like Pamela Geller than Louis CK.
But it’s worse than that. Not only is PC the defense used by those too egotistical to imagine that they could ever offend, it is also constantly used preemptively. Too often we read about PC attacks that simply never happened. It’s like Bill O’Reilly fretting that white Christians are under attack when there is no evidence of it at all. And we hear about these imaginary attacks from people like Seinfeld who cannot demonstrate in any way that, even if they existed, they had any impact at all. What this does is allow a deep paranoia to develop among those who imagine that they are having their way of life threatened.
Well, OK then. Good to know that a well-known, veteran comedian talking about his craft and the things he feels might be impacting it is equivalent to a woman provoking violence by constantly offending an entire religion. Good information to have.
McClennen later takes Seinfeld and his wife to task for the way they raise their daughter.
Seinfeld didn’t just go after his phantom PC attackers, he focused on college kids and young people in general. He referred to his 14-year-old daughter, Sascha, as an example of all that is wrong:
My daughter is 14. My wife says to her, “Well, you know, in the next couple of years, I think you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.”
And you know what my daughter says? She says, “That’s sexist.”
They just want to use these words. “That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.” They don’t know what the [bleep] they’re talking about.
We might pause and wonder at the dad who says nothing as his wife suggests her young daughter should spend more time in the city so she can “see boys.” Anyone else think that’s a bit creepy? I’d say mom is being more than sexist here.
Are you fucking serious with this fucking bullshit?
McLennen later brings up Trevor Noah as a millennial comedian who has been able to carve out a successful career in this new era of comedy. Apparently, she’s already forgotten about Noah being a target of the outrage machine a couple of months ago when old tweets of his came to light after he was named Jon Stewart’s successor on The Daily Show. (Much of that noise was coming from Salon.)
As for Chu and McGlynn, their articles mostly just served as kindling for the outrage fire. McGlynn railed on Seinfeld for not having “thicker skin” because in today’s world everyone is going to be criticized. She also said he needed to grow with the times and just be better at being a comedian, offering up young SNL cast member Michael Che as an example of how to do it right. (She also noted that Che deleted his Twitter account due to PC backlash he was getting, so not sure what point she was actually making.) Chu’s article was mostly a rambling mess that claimed that the left-wing outrage machine was greatly exaggerated.
However, in my mind, the worst offender in the Salon menagerie of Seinfeld-hate was a short recap of a Real Time segment on the controversy. The main issue here is that the title of the piece claimed that Maher and Ross ripped into Seinfeld’s “anti-PC tirade,” when that was absolutely not the case. Even the actual article itself accurately noted that Ross and Maher defended their fellow comedian’s stance and said that if Seinfeld is too politically incorrect for you, then perhaps you need to reexamine yourself.
Below is video of the segment:
C’mon man! What’s the point of the dishonest title? Are you sooooo concerned that your reader base may not be able to handle Maher defending Seinfeld that you have to lie in your headline? If you don’t think they’d like or agree with it, why even post the video to your site?
Is Seinfeld right on today’s younger audience being too PC? I don’t know. He could just be another old white guy shaking his fist at the clouds and wishing for a bygone era. However, there is a better way to discuss his comments and views than these reactionary pieces.
Image via USA Today