Hotbed Of Indignation: Roger Ebert On PCU


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

12 Comments on "Hotbed Of Indignation: Roger Ebert On PCU"

  1. I wish we could deport every “PC” social justice warrior. I have no problem with people with opposing political opinions, but SJW’s can go to hell!

  2. Ebert also says this “Nothing creates quite such a warm inner glow as accusing others of being morally reprehensible. In my undergraduate days, our opponents were Fascist Baby-Eaters. Today we live in less exuberant times, and the evil ones are simply racist, sexist, ageist, weightist, etc.”
    I think I have had a false sense of what youth rebellion is. I thought it followed the left right swing of the political pendulum. The determining factor being the politics of the previous generation. I thought if your parents were counter culture and your professors are hippies one would rebel by being a Republican. I guess I was unduly influenced by the sitcom Family Ties.
    It is controversial but there is a claim that students are coming to campus pre-radicalized and are turning on their professors. The PC tool box that was used by Professors and the most militant students to ensure that other students conform now seems to have been turned on the professors themselves. Even if half true I am curious to see how college communities navigate it. I believe this is the article that started the discussion.

  3. Nice cultural reference, Chris, with “Family Ties.” And in your last paragraph I thought of that very article, which sure enough you linked to.

  4. Etched forever in my memory is a scene from the movie, Woodstock, where an interviewer is talking to a couple -if guy and girl – about how they got there, where they’re from, their parents, etc. At one point the interviewer asks the guy something to the effect of did he think he could ever talk to someone like General William Westmorland. The kid answers back in all seriousness, that, yes, he’d like to think he could sit and discuss things with the general, even if he didn’t agree. When did we lose that willingness, I wonder. These days, and for some time now, I doubt we’d hear that answer again. Death to all things PC, another label, limitation, and thought fence, IMO.

  5. Is it just me, or does it look like Mr. Spade can go down a size on the blazer?

  6. BeefSupreme | October 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm |

    @ Matt
    The shoulders look good, but the sleeves could use a shortening. Considering the movie was made in the mid 90’s, the over usage of shoulder padding was in still in full effect.

  7. Henry Contestwinner | November 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm |

    I could not disagree more with the author’s assertion that the students’ ideology is “well-intentioned.” It is an evil ideology that seeks the destruction of those who do not toe its line.

  8. Raise your hand if you find this website to be a vile chilling of campus free speech:

    Another show of hands. How many people think Kim Davis is an irrational villain who should never have tried to put her personal emotions over her duty as a public servant?

    Where is the outrage? WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?!

  9. Henry Contestwinner | November 9, 2015 at 11:10 pm |

    I’m outraged that there has not yet been a discussion here on the proper Ivy disposable coffee cup. Is it the one available at NYC bodegas, or is it the tri-level styrofoam number? Could it even be something else? Should it have a lid, and if so, what kind?

    For that matter, is it more authentically Ivy to drink your coffee black, or with cream? sugar? cream and sugar? I am OUTRAGED that this has not been argued to death on this forum! OUTRAGED, I tell you!!!!!

  10. It’s probably more Ivy to drink your coffee black, but I’m sure someone will complain that I’m just being PC and the original coffee back in biblical times was actually white.

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