It’s amusing to observe the humour of hit sitcoms as recent as the 90s — Seinfeld, Fraser, even Friends — and realize just how much of it would have gotten someone fired overnight if it were being produced today. In fact, I anticipate the day when the PC crusaders turn their pitch forks on the rerun market. But I guess they have to dominate the current production market before they can turn to that.
In that context it was interesting to hear Jerry Seinfeld’s obversation that he wouldn’t play college campuses any more. He’s always been a bit aloof from politics and the cultural wars such as they were even back in the 1990s. And frankly I celebrate and appreciate that. It’s nice to have entertainers who see their primary job as entertaining. Compared to the current crop of high profile TV comedians, that is a breath of fresh air.
However, even at that, Seinfeld hasn’t been entirely unwilling to poke a little fun at political correctness itself. Perhaps the most fun and famous example was in the hit TV show when he and George are mistaken as being a gay couple. Much of the episode is spend with them trying to correct this misunderstanding. And each time they of course conclude their case with the now famous line: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s brings to mine another great, though less famous, line of George’s: when Elaine says that admitting another man is attractive doesn’t make you gay. To which George replies, it doesn’t help.
So, regular watchers of the show knew that the insistence “not that there’s anything wrong with that” was more than a little disingenuous. The guys kind of did think there was. But of course PC etiquette required the disclaimer.
That also brings to mind that episode, I think it involved the question of Jerry undertaking some fringy sexual practice. Maybe engaging in a three-way. I don’t remember the exact context, but that’s less important. The point is that when it was clear Jerry wasn’t doing it, George asked, with a slight tone of disappointment: Because of society? To which Jerry replied: Yes, George, because of society.
So, even back in the 90s, Jerry was well aware of and happy to poke some fun at political correctness. As I say the show may very well not have been able to get away with today what it did then. But it is refreshing to watch some of those reruns. And it’s encouraging to see even as the pressure mounts, Jerry still isn’t willing to genuflect to the PC scolds.