Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil ★★

"Why are you doing this to us?"

"Because you let me."

You're at Thanksgiving with your family. At some point, your dad decides to bring up something topical from the news to complain about - probably immigrants or "the blacks" or something fun and politically incorrect like that. The family likely tries to politely nudge him away from it and deescalate the situation, best not to discuss politics and other incendiary topics at the dinner table, but he has things on his mind he so desperately needs to say.

Most of the argument is spent trying to keep the argument from happening at all, but he persists. He says something stupid or bigoted or both, and someone tells him something like, "you're not supposed to say that." He scoffs and rolls his eyes and says something about political correctness, how he's sick of being told what he's allowed to say. Sick of being told it's rude for him to speak his mind.

The mood is terrible and everyone will remember this as a bad time.

On the car ride home, the tension in the air is unbearably thick. Nobody dares say anything, lest it spark an explosion. Apropos of nothing, your dad picks his ranting back up: "I'm so sick of having to silence myself to make other people comfortable," he declares, to all of you, but also no one. "Because of this PC bullshit, I have to keep my mouth shut and be treated like a second-class citizen."

You wonder what he's talking about, because he's literally always aggressively confrontational, and never censors himself. You don't say this, of course; he would just yell at you, and probably call you a pussy or a faggot, because he's not afraid to stand up for himself and say politically incorrect things. He reveres people who are willing to be confrontational and make others uncomfortable - as long as they're conservative and politically incorrect. Confrontation from the left is woke, and forced politeness, and other things he doesn't care for. Everyone else is fake and performative - he alone speaks truth to power.

Your dad loves Speak No Evil.

He watches it, and it feels like a cathartic act of revenge against all those namby-pamby, politically correct liberals. It feels so gratifying to see these spineless pussies suffer and pay for their insistence on never rocking the boat, never wanting to offend anyone. He enjoys seeing their liberal hypocrisies exposed and laid bare. Finally, a movie unafraid to condemn political correctness, to show how it leads to ruin.

He believes this is realistic. He believes real human beings actually behave like the characters in this movie, are actually, truly, genuinely, as cartoonishly dumb and passive as this, and that this is actually making a saliant point about real people. The socially conservative message is so tantalizing he scarcely realizes almost nothing happens until the final, fantastically stupid and contrived fifteen minutes. Doesn't quite see that the whole thing is an unbearably rote exercise in lazy strawman writing that would make Newsroom-era Sorkin blush. That it's just not scary, not engaging, with nothing to care about.

You empathize with him on only one point. This must have been how he felt watching Don't Look Up. An entire movie of people behaving in unrealistically stupid ways, solely to make a blunt and boring capital-p Point.

Your dad feels validated. He's made a promise to himself. He's not going to passively kowtow to what other people say. He's not going to be afraid to take up space, to make demands, to call people out, to be aggressive, to be rude.

Your dad is going to be a bigger asshole. If only more people were like your dad.

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