I’m not going to pretend I have a full understanding of the age group known as Generation Z. The last thing I want to do is give off some “how do you do fellow kids” vibe. I’m not part of that generation and I’m not going to pretend to be in order to try to fit in or get their good graces.
What I can gather about their humor, for the most part, is that they’ve abandoned the idea that political correctness has to be a part of any joke being made. Watching some of their videos or listening to their back and forth talk can make one feel like they just walked into a living, breathing episode of South Park.
And as shocked and offended as we are, I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing.
As much as we rail against political correctness, we’re still soaked in it. My age group, the millennials, especially seem to be a slave to political correctness to the point where even comedy and jokes are completely out of the question unless it results in what Ben Shapiro calls “clapter,” or the act of pretending something is funny when really it’s just a political statement said in a humorous tone. The call to limit free speech polls far higher than it should. We’re so offended all the time.
This disposition toward society is the infected sore of years of politically correct programming. We can’t speak truths or even say jokes for fear that it would hurt somebody’s feelings. We’ve become humorless and are willing to allow lies and mistruths to thrive out of fear that correcting them would make you a social pariah.
Then enter Gen Z.
It’s a light intro, but from being a fan of Tik Tok to watching various Gen Z aged people give their opinions on various topics on YouTube, I’m consistently surprised at what I find. Their social commentary is crude and offensive, but very often spot on. They comfortably throw terms like “faggot” around and make jokes about Hitler. All while not remotely hating gay people and not remotely being fans of Nazism.
The darker the humor, the funnier it is. For Gen Z, what would be shocking for everyone else is fun for them.
In fact, it’s not the joke that seems to be the most fun part, it’s the reaction it gets from the easily offended.
But the most impressive aspect of it all is that because of their non-attentiveness to the politically correct, it has allowed them to see the proverbial man behind the curtain. Their social commentary is often laced with hard truths. They don’t dance around feelings, they cut right to the issue.
Many of my generation and older see this and immediately reach for the alarm. The ideas they espouse are considered “dangerous.” Take for instance BuzzFeed’s attack against 14-year-old YouTuber Soph. After watching a few more of her videos, I’m noticing that while her language and takes on things are biting, I didn’t disagree with a lot of what she was saying, and I can’t consider her to be the villain she’s painted as. Sure, there are things she said that are ridiculous and I expect that from a young teenager going through what I call the “prime dumbass years.”
But a villain? No. In my opinion, she is to 2019 what Matt Stone and Trey Parker were to the 90’s.
In fact, I found myself enjoying a lot of it because for the first time I felt like I wasn’t listening to carefully crafted and cautious commentary, I was listening to unapologetic realism laced with humor I was told by society was out of bounds and evil. It was like a mental itch being scratched.
But even among the right and those who are supporters of freedom of speech, I found many who were disgusted by this Gen Z approach. Fair enough. I don’t expect that many would throw Soph, or people like her a parade. Not everything she and the Gen Z crowd are saying would be considered wise by any account.
That said, I have to wonder if this isn’t good for us as a society.
I look around and see absolute fear when it comes to social expression. Humor has become a liability. Say the wrong thing and the mob will come for you. Make the wrong joke and you may be ruined for life. You may lose your job, or be deplatformed. Mark Meechan of the UK (aka Count Dankula) used his dog to make a Nazi joke and found himself facing a prison sentence. People like Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, and Lauren Southern have been banned from various social media platforms for expressing the wrong opinion or engaging in unapproved activism.
I could list a ton more, but this is just one finger swipe of the icing that makes up the entire cake. Trying to list a sufficient amount would take an entire book.
Gen Z seems to stand defiant of the consequences and collectively throws a middle finger to the threat the mob presents. It’s a very “you can’t get us all” attitude. It makes the PC police seem very small by comparison, and groups like Antifa easier to laugh at, which is a blessing, seeing as how my generation has been trained to react with outrage toward this kind of thing. I have to appreciate it.
I appreciate it because, at this time, the scale is currently tipped toward a hard left, social justice lunacy that is tearing society apart both figuratively and literally. Gen Z is, perhaps unintentionally, applying the correct amount of pressure to tip the scale back ever so slowly. It’s injecting the idea into society that being offensive is okay, and even warranted at times. It’s weaponized desensitization, and we desperately need it in a time when we’re so sensitive about everything.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I suspect even members of Gen Z would read this and laugh off the idea that they’re doing anything political at all, that they’re just having fun, and fair enough. However, from my millennial perspective, I have to admire the effect it’s having at this time.