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October 11, 2004

Offense intended

I saw a screening of Team America last night, and I don't know when the last time was I laughed so much at so many things that were just out-and-out wrong. Oh, wait, I know, it was when I saw the South Park movie.

After the movie, the friend I'd seen it with (a screenwriter and humorist) was marvelling at how Team America went against everything you're taught about the importance of Not Offending the Audience. He pointed out that this is just considered gospel: you don't offend people. If you want to get edgy, you can mock-offend them, but then you have to pull back somehow and make it clear that the offensive bit is over and that everything is safe again.

Team America seemed to feel that the way to deal with potentially offensive material is to offend everyone as much as possible, so that no one is left out.

I'm getting somewhere yarn-related with this, I promise. Hang on. Okay, here we go:

I've had several comments from friends and acquaintences over the last few months that boil down to this: "Now that you have a store, you better watch your step -- you can't afford to go around offending people!" The wonderful thing is, each person who has said something like this has meant a slightly different thing, based on what each of them finds offensive. Or "potentially offensive", my favorite weasel-phrase. "Oh, no, of couse, I'm not offended...but someone might be."

Is it offensive that my hair is purple and green? That I have an eyebrow ring? No? Funny, my mom thinks so.

Is it offensive that I often swear like a sailor? That I'm going to carry the girl-produced porn mag Sweet Action in the store, and that I'm planning a line of X-rated knitwear (to push things just a little further than the darling folks at knitty.com were able to do this past summer)? No? That's great! Submit some patterns then, will you?

Is it offensive that I'm an out bisexual polyamorist? No? Cool. Well, let me try again: is it offensive that I just read a book by Ayn Rand and thought she made some really good points, despite being a nutjob? There! I knew I'd get you!

Anyway, I figured it might be good to lay some of that stuff out there, so that I don't make the mistake of accidentally offending anyone. Because that would be a shame.

And to bring it back to politics -- if you don't like your choices for president (and do any of us really love our options this year?) now is a good time for me to remind you that in NY you can vote on the Working Families Party line, which will help us get just a little bit closer to the day when we in our soi-disant democracy can vote for a viable third-party candidate.

Posted by Rose at October 11, 2004 01:27 PM


Now *that's* funny!! You get to be what you want to be in life, or to paraphrase an inexact quote I saw recently "everyone has a free will and there's nothing you can do about it".

Do some of those things offend me? Of course! But a person is not *only* about a certain subset of things. You have to look or read at someone in the total context of who they are. For example, many people were offended by Clinton's moral behaviour-- I choose to be impressed by his presidency.

You have the attitude and the aptitude to succeed no matter who you offend. Go for it!

Posted by: Sheila at October 11, 2004 03:55 PM

I'm offended!

LOL not really. you can't please everyone. so someone's always going to be offended by something, and that's really their own problem. :) good luck with your shop. :D

Posted by: Manda at October 11, 2004 10:18 PM

You are damn funny! The world would be so boring if no one offended anyone else. I try to offend at least one person daily.

And I can't wait to stop by your store! The name and mascot are so clever! You must sell tee shirts and bags with him on it.

Posted by: The Queen of the Snow Cows at October 18, 2004 02:02 PM

Just slid over to your blog mere minutes after ...
voting for Kerry on the Working Families Party line.

Posted by: ugarte at October 19, 2004 04:07 PM

HEHE - I have never seen the Sweet Action Magazine before (and never heard of it either)... the only porn I have ever seen is a video a friend of mine won while we were playing Gay Bingo in San Diego "Chicks with Dicks"... it was eye-opening... but I figured as a hetro woman this might be an interesting read :-)

Posted by: Alison at October 19, 2004 05:33 PM

Oh jeez! That last bit about Ayn Rand really got to me. I'm gonna have to go sit in the corner and rock back and forth and fan myself now.

Posted by: inkgrrl at October 25, 2004 02:13 PM

This is where it gets fun, and risky. Business as personal expression is where it's at. This is why you want your own business and not work for someone else. To be yourself. Congrats!

Posted by: Rachel at October 27, 2004 06:46 PM