‘I’ ON CULTURE
The social justice puritans have done it again. At the Academy Awards, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sang the love song that won her a nomination and a victory for Best Original Song and, horrors, they looked at each other lovingly. Those people who saw the film know they had some really intimate moments, as they had a romance that was the center of the plot. At the awards show, they sat next to each and looked at each other lovingly.
That led to expressions of horror. How could Cooper actually stare at Gaga while his girlfriend sat 50 feet away? And, of course, she “broke the girl rule” of seeming to care about another woman’s boyfriend. Now, both persons are unmarried and both are of age. Even more to the point, they had an on-screen romance that was relatively hot. And he had won his director’s chops by getting a great performance from her, and she had won her acting chops, along with a Best Actress nomination, by working with him. How could they really like each other?
Now you (and I) might say that it was much ado about nothing. The real question should be why should there be anything said. Cooper’s girlfriend was not bothered. She later in the evening gave Lady Gaga a big hug. And she knows show business.
Our current problem with these idiot puritans is that they have no feel at all for context. There was a fuss made on a college campus over the famous World War II area photo of a sailor enthusiastically kissing a woman he did not know. Young people were outraged that he so flagrantly entered “her space.” They ignored the fact that people of both sexes were celebrating the end of the largest war in history. They never checked in with the woman involved. Actually, we do know that the woman did not even remember the kiss until 25 years later when it was restaged. And she happily repeated it several times on the anniversary of the date for photographers until the eventual death of the sailor who kissed her. Again, our young puritans did not bother with facts. Why should they when they have perfectly good prejudices to work through?
These prejudices are not simply over celebrity issues or sex. Colleges have seen students going out on strike over due process issues. I remember doing that back in the 1960s when administrators decided that students were too powerless to stand up to ridiculous rules. Remember Animal House where the fraternity was on “double secret probation?” We all laughed as the boys got their revenge. At my college, a group was suspended for being too socialist (well, they did call themselves communists). Almost every student marched out in protest. They had not done anything wrong except pass out idiotic fliers, and we demanded they be protected.
Colleges now have walkouts. Of course, now the “crimes” are sometimes things like handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution. But the walkouts are not in support of those demanding free speech but against them. These puritans now recognize the simple truth: protections are only for them. Yale students staged a walkout and set up “safe zones” because some people asked for “due process under law” as required by the U.S. Constitution. The very well-connected student body hated the notion. After all, the “common people” might be heard and protected.
The fragility of the well-connected has been established. Colleges now have “safe spaces” where students can hide if non-approved (by the puritans) speakers come to campus. These “leaders of the future” are given comic books to read and coloring books to fill in to help prevent “evil issues” from getting near them.
Are these people hypocrites? Well, some of them. Having U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez call for eating less beef to save the planet sounds nuts, but when she’s seen eating a nice big hamburger, we understand reality. Unfortunately, many young people (and some older) do not get the idea that all of us deserve rights. And that a lot of behavior, certainly when consensual, deserves protection.