Day 159 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

If you had told me late yesterday afternoon, I would have a topic to blog about today I would have been most surprised. But then again, life hands you topics when you least expect it! And so it happened …

I was having my cuppa in bed this morning when I remembered my favourite breakfast announcer Spencer Housen having his daily “group chat” earlier with his two producers to set up topics of discussion for the show.

The producer Sam was telling the story of how ‘the short people’ – actors in Los Angeles were going out on strike because they are not being used in movies.  I thought: “What? Short people?” And so Sam continued, trying not to use the word “dwarf” but faltering every now and again and lapsing into it.

Snow White and the Seven ‘Short People’

Apparently, instead of the dwarfs getting the roles in a new movie (yes it IS Cinderella and the Seven Dwarfs) the studio is using special effects to make normal size people look small! I kid you not.  Well, the dwarf people are NOT happy about this. (Do you blame them – they are perfect for the roles?)

But the funny part of the whole thing was that Sam was obviously quite uncomfortable about using the word “dwarf.” Anne, the other producer had no such reluctance and said straight out: “Oh, I had a dwarf making a pass at me many years ago. It was pretty odd because I am 5’10” tall!”

And I’d had a woman dwarf university lecturer who frightened the living daylights out of all of us on a regular basis and she didn’t have any qualms about what she called us!

By now my fascination had been aroused and as I sipped my tea I thought “I could write a blog about this.” Then I remembered that in the night I put on my radio to get the time and heard the beginning of a debate on Radio National. The topic? Gay Marriage!

Now, if you are like me, I have heard enough on this subject not to be interested but my attention was captured by what the ‘AGAINST’ debater was saying in his introduction. He felt compelled to give a long blurb about not believing in discrimination, that he was not against gay marriage etc etc on and on AND he wanted everyone to know this.

I remember thinking “Oh my goodness, he is frightened of taking a stance AGAINST gay marriage because he will be judged for it!” And with that, I turned off the radio and happily went back to sleep.

Now, in the light of day, I thought about this and related it to Sam not being able to say the word “dwarf.” It was then that I remembered on Sunday I had been to a Gift Shop to buy a card when my eye caught a table full of …. dare I say the word? Well okay then … Gollywogs!

The drawing in Florence Upton’s first book

They were in all different shapes and sizes. A sign pinned to the table said “Know the history of  Gollywogs.” I never did stop to find out but I do remember thinking “Oh aren’t they lovely … but … but … aren’t Gollywogs now taboo?” What in the name of goodness is going on here?

However, I have since found out that Florence Upton (1873-1922) born in New York to British parents, was credited with creating the term ‘Gollywog‘. Florence’s mother wrote  a book about Florence’s two dolls – one being a Gollywog – and Florence illustrated them. So there you have it!

It was only as I sipped my tea in the quiet of the morning did I connect these three incidents. The fact of the matter is we have all been whipped into shape with what we call ‘political correctness’ and now we are afraid to say anything because we may “offend someone.”

Do you know what, are there a lot of you ‘out there’ that are just getting a wee bit tired of it all? Now I don’t think for one moment that I am in the habit of using offensive language or am purposely setting out to upset people, but where is this going to end?

Oh dear, now I am feeling I have to defend MYSELF here. None of us want to be found GUILTY of discrimination do we?!

Now, there was a stand at a football field  in Queensland named after a well-loved aboriginal football player “Nigger Brown” and the United Nations said it would have to be changed.  The Queensland Government refused to back down saying: “… that the pejorative “nigger” may be used publicly without necessarily being racially offensive.” 

End of an era …

However, as the stand was due for an upgrade, it was demolished and eventually they were not even allowed to put up a plaque acknowledging “Nigger Brown (1989-1972) or his stand!  And do you know what the anti-rascist campaigners said? “Coon cheese is next on the list.”

This really was over the top and made me laugh! What next? And so all of the things that were once considered safe and did not harm anyone, are now up for questioning. They are on trial or more like it, we are ALL on trial for being offensive to someone, somewhere at sometime.

Please, I do not wish for us to go back to the days when discrimination was indeed real. No. I love that we are a nation of “a great big melting pot” of different coloured people, with different eyes and body shapes. Great! We no longer persecute gay people or cast them out of society. Good! We no longer call coloured people derogatory names. Even Better!

But PLEASE, spare a thought for where this is all leading us. What do YOU think? There will be a lot of people ‘out there’ who may totally disagree with me. Fine. Tell me if I am just an old woman who yearns for the past? But to be honest, I do long for the days when life was so much simpler.

Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow, we could find a nice balance between ‘what was then’ and ‘what is now’ and not have to watch our Ps and Qs so much of the time. Or maybe, I will just have to go out and buy one of those  Gollywog dolls to keep for posterity and make me feel better?

Until tomorrow …