The right to be offended?

I think this is the closest I have come to writing a rant.

Last year I worked as an assistant in a job centre. My job was to help members of the public complete forms, edit CVs and Covering Letters and to search for jobs on line. One day I entered the computer area and saw two people waiting for assistance, a man and a woman. The man said to me,

‘Hello, I need help filling our a job application form.’

‘Okay, if you go to that computer over there and I’ll help you in a moment,’ I said pointing to a free computer.

The man nodded and sat down at the computer.

I turned to the woman, ‘and how can I help you?’

‘Well now I want a complaint form.’

‘A- a complaint form?’

‘Yeah, I’m going to put in an official complaint about you. I didn’t like the way you spoke to that man. You didn’t say please.’

It turns out that the woman was a regular in the Job Center and was constantly issuing complaints against members of staff in the hope of collecting compensation. Nothing came of her complaints but the point I’m trying to make is this, does she have the right to be offended?

 

I watched the superhero film Deadpool several weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It isn’t your normal superhero film. Deadpool has the ability to break the fourth wall and interact with the audience. He swears, he decapitates people and he has a crude sense of humour. Here is a short gif of a fight sequence  taken from a trailer so you have an idea about the film.

 

The film was given a R rating. This wasn’t surprising to Deadpool fans. Deadpool’s main appeal is his fourth wall breaking and sense of humour, this makes him stand out against the likes of Iron man and Captain America. Despite the R rating families attended the film and parents were disgusted and upset by what they watched. So they launched a petition for the film to be either pulled or edited to fit a PG15 rating. Do these parents have a right to complain? In my opinion, no.  They were warned about the content of the film but chose to ignore that warning. As stated above Deadpool’s main appeal is his rudeness for lack of a better word. Without that the character isn’t Deadpool.

 

Another recent example is Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones is notorious for killing off main characters at a moments notice, its strong violence and upsetting scenes. This tone is set in the very first episode when the character Bran is pushed out of a tower window and paralysed for life when he catches Jamie Lannister having sex with his sister Cersei Lannister, the wife of the current king. The show also features murders, rapes and tortures. Recently one of the stars Natalie Porter who plays Margaery Tyrell said in an interview with The Sunday Times that Game of Thrones is not escapism. If you feel as though you will be offended by the show then don’t watch it.

I agree with what Natalie Porter said but I don’t agree with the showrunners treatment of some female characters such as Sansa Stark and Cersei Lannister (played by Sophie Turner and  Lena Headey respectively.) Game of Thrones is based off the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin and although the books are brutal in places the TV show has added what some deem unnecessary violence and upsetting scenes. For example in Series Five Episode Six Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken Sansa Stark is raped by Ramsay Bolton on their wedding night while Theon Greyjoy is forced to watch. This scene isn’t in the book and caused great upset among viewers. It served to undermine Sophie Turner’s character who was midway through a character arc and failed to add anything new to the show.

A similar case happened when Jaime Lannister (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)  raped Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister next to the corpse of their son, born of incest in the episode Breaker of Chains . This scene does take place in the books but it is consensual where as in the TV show Cersei can be heard saying “Jaime, no… stop.” This was another unnecessary change as it doesn’t add to either character.

Do I have the right to be offended by these scenes? I know what Game of Thrones is infamous for and I knew that scenes along these lines was likely to happen. Yes I can be offended but I shouldn’t expect anything to be done about it purely because I am offended.

I think Stephen Fry sums up my attitude to being offended perfectly. Do you agree?

Fry offended.jpg

 

Comments

One comment on “The right to be offended?”
  1. Patsy says:

    I don’t think we have the right to be offended on behalf of other people, if they themselves aren’t. Yes, we should try to stick up for people who are poorly treated, but it’s not up to us to decide how they should feel. In your example if the man was happy with his treatment, what you said wasn’t the woman’s business.

    With the films – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed them (the advertising etc showed what kind of films they’d be) so didn’t watch. We do have that option much of the time and I think that’s better than being deliberately offended. Plus the filmakers will take far more notice of poor attendances than they will of complaints after people have paid to watch.

    Like

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