There is something I have noticed. Some have claimed it is recent, other say it has been around a long time. I take a stance somewhere in the middle: I believe it has been around a long time but is steadily growing more and more common. What is “it”? The appearance that our culture is increasingly more easily offended. As a writer, it is important to keep an eye on these trends and learn what offends people and why.
I saw on the news a few months back that certain comedians refuse to do stand-up on college campuses because they feel these institutions are too “politically correct.” Maybe that is true, maybe it’s not, but that is the consensus of some comedians. On social media, every political group or ideological camp seems to have someone who is perpetually offended by something. It often seems like people look for a “hidden” meaning in everything, whether it actually exists or not.
An artist, whether an author or a film maker, should not necessarily refrain from making something out of fear of offending, but I feel it is important to understand the culture. As artists, we need to know how to effectively communicate with our audience, but we also need to say what we mean. It seems that it is so easy for something, even if it is satire, to be construed into being seen as sexist, racist, or generally intolerant. This highlights the importance of authors choosing to convey exactly what they mean in the clearest way possible, but realizing at the same time someone will inevitably be offended somewhere along the way.
I think it is important that we attempt to convey our message without offending someone, but we also can’t live in fear of offending someone. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.