The TV show, Portlandia has, for five seasons, been ribbing Portlanders and liberals everywhere with its Chaplinesque satire and faux social commentary. Though its characters may disagree, what they take for progressive ideology is the laughable stock of the show. Conservatives roll their eyes and liberals giggle—uncomfortably—at the hypocrisy of the characters. But just as we laugh at the “progressive” lunacy, we might dig deeper into what the satire is doing.
If you haven’t had the chance, you must check out Portlandia’s “Feminist Bookstore” Twitter commentary during last Sunday’s Super Bowl. Here is a little crack at a familiar liberal woe:
RT This is a very pro-father commercial. Parenthood is important but Don’t assume you know their pronouns! #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat
…raising the question of gender bias in language (not to mention same-sex marriage). An admirable cause, and not just from the lefty, Freirian take. Most of us recognize that patriarchal language is a thing of the past, except of course when reciting liturgy. We’re moving on, but how and wherefore do we tread in this brave new world? In step the satirist and the critic, for it is their role to teach and edify.
Jonathan Chait, in his recent New York Magazine piece, “Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say,” raises some important issues around what is now a derogatory slur: Political Correctness. “Since race and gender biases are embedded in our social and familial habits, our economic patterns, and even our subconscious minds, they need to be fought with some level of consciousness,” concedes Chait, while rebuking the left for creating a politically charged and suppressive atmosphere across social strata.
Chait manages in his conclusion to express support of the ideals driving the PC movement, however flawed in their execution. “The historical record of American liberalism…. rests in its confidence in the ultimate power of reason, not coercion, to triumph.”
Regardless of your take on the politics of language,“Feminist Bookshop” should be on your list of places to visit in Portlandia, for the laughs if not the linguistic analysis.