I had just left college when the movie “PCU” came out in 1994, and I was barely familiar with the term “politically correct.” I had probably first heard it from a guy I’d occasionally run into in the quad, who handed out fliers and held a clipboard. He was one of the few guys who, like me, would often wear a necktie to our sunny California commuter school, and we probably started chatting for that reason. Turned out he was president of the school’s Republican club.
At the time I was barely aware of the two parties and what they stood for, but I remember one day strolling past the guy and finding him rather incensed about something. Turned out the school paper, to which I occasionally contributed, had written an op-ed piece referring to him as the KKK. Such is the nature of PC culture that the guy was a Latino with bleached hair in the style of the pop group A Flock Of Seagulls. The epithet certainly struck me as a bit excessive.
I never saw “PCU” when it came out, and coincidentally only watched it just a few weeks ago for a writing gig, before the idea for our little PC Week ever dawned on me (perhaps it planted the seed, though it was the yacht club thing that made the light go off). I don’t have anything specific to say about the film, save that it’s 21 years old yet yet seems as if it could have been made today. Except I don’t think it would be made today.
And so for this post I invite you to check out the review of “PCU” by Roger Ebert, the syndicated film critic and certainly a neutral figure. Ebert describes the fictional campus at which the movie is set as a hotbed of indignation, and opens his review thusly:
The strange thing about Political Correctness is that it seems to have lots of opponents and no supporters. No one ever describes themselves as PC, and yet somehow the movement thrives. It achieves an especially luxuriant growth on campuses, where young people for centuries have defined themselves in opposition to their elders, who are by definition reactionary.
Ebert certainly has a sharper eye than mine; I managed to miss this shot:
One of the movie’s best sight gags shows the group portraits of the house’s former residents; for years they are WASP clones in dark suits, ties and crew cuts. Then, in 1969, they metamorphose into unisex hippies.
Check out the full review here, and you older trads who haven’t seen the movie might want to give it a try. It hardly costs a thing, so you might want to just buy a copy. I had to return four scratched copies to Netflix. Perhaps people throw the discs across the room — for any number of reasons. — CC