Politically correctness?

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Politically correctness?

Postby flapjacque13 » 12 Dec 2014, 17:06

Dear Profs. after retiring from full time teaching I have spent the last year developing my own Professorship, performing to over 1000 children at different venues and events. however, after my last show I received a concern from the employer who had received an angry email about the excessive violence, domestic and child abuse in the show. This is the first ' complaint' or concern I have ever had. The complaining lady said she was assured by her friend that P &J was just silliness and had lost its .....violence.
I have modified my next series of shows for same employer, removing any slapstick, baby sitting or throwing etc. must keep the customers satisfied. but have you ever experienced this and what do you do about it?
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby Chris » 12 Dec 2014, 18:20

If there is "excessive violence, domestic and child abuse" in your show you are doing it wrong. Properly done slapstick does not give that impression.
If on the other hand this is an unjustified criticism, perhaps the complainant never saw the show just heard about it, then I don't think much of your response. What other theatrical art form would completely change its script because of one critical email? And what gives this one complainant, who didn't enjoy the show, more importance than presumably the hundreds who did?
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby bilbobaglin » 13 Dec 2014, 21:11

Puts me in mind of this event http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/s-way-Punch-Judy-critics-say-promote-violence/story-22734997-detail/story.html which I think I first read about on here somewhere. If you read the follow up stories you'll find that public opinion seems to come down on the side of Punch vv (and common sense).

The thing I took from that story was the words of Charles Dickens;
I regard Punch and Judy as quite harmless in its influence and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or as a model for any kind of conduct.
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby Chris » 13 Dec 2014, 22:13

The other thing to take from the story was that it wasn't a parent with children complaining but a politician, or at least a political campaigner who was gaining publicity for her cause. I've read a lot of such stories over a long lifetime, and nearly always the complaint comes not from the audience watching the show, but from someone who thinks the audience shouldn't be watching it. Often the complainant hasn't even seen the show, but knows all about it of course!
The Press love this, and at the start of every Summer you will find certain newspapers trying to seek out such stories. This has been going on from long before I was born, and I'm very old now. The late Percy Press relates an almost similiar story which happened to him in 1943.
I recall about five years ago a local newspaper reporter was attending a Council committee meeting and they were discussing the budget for the town fete or some such and it wasmentioned that one of the attractions was a Punch and Judy man. One of the Councillors jokingly pointed out that they had just agreed a Council Punch and Judy show after previously discussing the needs of a refuge for battered wives. This was just an amusing aside, not a serious issue, but the alert reporter managed to get a story published: Council discuss banning Punch and Judy. National papers picked this up and several of us who worked Punch at the seaside were approached - I got a call from the BBC - asking if we were having any problems with local government banning Punch & Judy. Of course they were disappointed when we said "No". Unfortunately you do get the occasional Prof who breaks ranks. He has perhaps lost a contract he's had for several years running. He may have lost it for any number of reasons - maybe they just want a change - but he is quick to blame "political correctness" and the press are only too ready to encourge this.
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby flapjacque13 » 14 Dec 2014, 22:38

Oh dear me! What have I started? Anyway, many thanks to you both for your ideas, opinions and views. I had previously done 30 shows at the same venue with not a complaint, lots of thanks, smiles, appreciation and love of Punch from children and adults. This lady watched the show with her 3 yr old. She stayed until the end. the show had Judy slapstick Punch twice, Punch on Judy twice, Punch on crocodile twice, Punch on Skeleton three times. excessive do you think?
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby lesclarke » 14 Dec 2014, 23:20

Oh, watch out, looks like the thin end of the slapstick!

It's a pity you didn't seek advice before deciding to modify your show, this in effect means that you accept the attack as being justified.

It is after all a single ill-informed criticism. Have more faith in your own show and the Punch Tradition of Knockabout Slapstick Comedy. I reckon you will make things so much harder for yourself at that venue, having removed what is a central element of the show.

Have an honest assessment of your show, if you find it is violence free, but has some good old knockabout slapstick action, then have the courage to defend it from this sort of 'extremist' attack. This is nothing less than an attempt at Censorship, what next, rewrite Hansel & Gretel so two youngsters meet a cuddly old lady in the woods and she gives them a scrumptious tea! Not much of a story and no chance for youngsters to stretch their minds.

Most kids from around the age of three 'get' Punch & Judy, but a tiny minority of adults, usually due to their arrogance that 'they know best' apparently do not.
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby Chris » 14 Dec 2014, 23:23

the show had Judy slapstick Punch twice, Punch on Judy twice, Punch on crocodile twice, Punch on Skeleton three times. excessive do you think?

The only thing excessive is you counting! It is surely nothing to do with quantity. Count the laughs and squeals of joy instead.
But don't worry, you haven't started anything, Punch has always had his occasional critics. You can just thank your lucky stars that you are performing in Britain. It would seem that the country with the lowest tolerance level of puppet to puppet violence is the one which allows its citizen's ready access to firearms. Apparently a wooden headed puppet striking another wooden head with an instrument designed to simulate a heavy blow by making a loud thwack! is more morally objectionable than making a virtue of the right for everyone to carry a gun with live ammunition.
Punch has virtually become extinct in much of the English speaking world, whereas thankfully it is still pretty healthy in Britain. But we must be vigilant.
I have modified my next series of shows for same employer, removing any slapstick, baby sitting or throwing etc. must keep the customers satisfied.

....may seem a reasonable response, but that is how extinction starts.

PS. I note that while I have been composing this Les has come in making much the same point. Of course I agree with him.
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Re: Politically correctness?

Postby flapjacque13 » 15 Dec 2014, 18:35

Many thanks for your comments Chris and Les. I shan't be modifying my show for any other venue but need to fulfil this commitment and so will, reluctantly, go with their wish.....this time. I quite agree that no-one ever counts the number of entertained, happy customers but only listen to the one voice of 'uneducated' concern. Punch will remain slapstick Punch with me after this.
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