A gay California student wrote an open letter to Jerry Seinfeld, complaining that modern college audiences want humor that has a “context that spurs social dialogue” and which isn’t based on “archaic ideals.”
Seinfeld has said that he doesn’t perform at colleges because of the “politically correct,” or hysterical atmosphere that pervades the audience. Seinfeld told Seth Myers Tuesday night: “There’s a creepy PC thing out there that really bothers me.”
San Diego State student Anthony Berteaux felt compelled to correct Seinfeld on his misconceptions about the college audience in an open letter published at Huffington Post. What he actually did was confirm Seinfeld was right:
It isn’t so much that college students are too politically correct (whatever your definition of that concept is), it’s that comedy in our progressive society today can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive. Sexist humor and racist humor can no longer exist in comedy because these concepts are based on archaic ideals that have perpetrated injustice against minorities in the past.
Provocative humor, such as ones dealing with topics of race and gender politics, can be crass and vulgar, but underlying it must be a context that spurs social dialogue about these respective issues. There needs to be a message, a central truth behind comedy for it to work as humor.
Berteaux declares that, yes, college students are politically correct. And because they are, Seinfeld better be ready to adjust his material accordingly:
So, yes, Mr. Seinfeld, we college students are politically correct. We will call out sexism and racism if we hear it. But if you’re going to come to my college and perform in front of me, be prepared to write up a set that doesn’t just offend me, but has something to say.
Berteaux sees politically correct comedy as something to aspire to, but Seinfeld sees it as something to avoid, but they both agree it’s there on college campuses. If Seinfeld felt the need to respond to Berteaux’s open letter, he could probably go with: “Thanks for backing me up.”