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Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | Big Think

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Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | Big Think

Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism
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Slavoj Žižek doesn't buy into political correctness. In fact, it frightens him. The famed philosopher and social critic describes political correctness as a tacit form of totalitarianism, an act of coercion built upon the premise that I know better than you what you really want. This isn't to say that people should be allowed to go around treating others poorly, but Žižek argues that employing coercion and scare tactics to instill a state of forced behavior completely missed the point. To Žižek, the kinds of obscenity targeted by political correctness are much more effective at breeding a sense of shared solidarity than most alternatives.
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK:

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

Žižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the Elvis of philosophy and an academic rock star. His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Slavoj Zizek: Of course I have nothing against the fact that your boss treats you in a nice way and so on. The problem is if this not only covers up the actual relationship of power, but makes it even more impenetrable. You know, if you have a boss who is up there, the old-fashioned boss shouting at you, exerting full brutal authority. In a way it’s much easier to rebel than to have a friendly boss who embraces you or how was the last night with your girlfriend, blah, blah, all that buddy stuff. Well then it almost appears impolite to protest. But I will give you an example, an old story that I often use to make it clear what do I mean by this. Imagine you or me, I’m a small boy. It’s Sunday afternoon. My father wants me to visit our grandmother. Let’s say my father is a traditional authority. What would he be doing? He would probably tell me something like, I don’t care how you feel; it’s your duty to visit your grandmother. Be polite to her and so on. Nothing bad about this I claim because I can still rebel and so on. It’s a clear order.

But what would the so-called post-modern non-authoritarian father do? I know because I experienced it. He would have said something like this, You know how much your grandmother loves you, but nonetheless I’m not forcing you to visit her. You should only visit her if you freely decide to do it. Now every child knows that beneath the appearance of free choice there is a much stronger pressure in this second message. Because basically your father is not only telling you, you must visit your grandmother, but you must love to visit it. You know he tells you how you must feel about it. It’s a much stronger order. And I think that this is for me almost a paradigm of modern permissive authority. This is why the formula of totalitarianism is not — I don’t care what you think; just do it. This is traditional authoritarianism. The totalitarian formula is I know better than you what you really want and I may appear to be forcing you to do it, but I’m really just making you do what without fully knowing what you want and so on. So in this sense yes, I am horrified by this. Also another aspect this new culture of experts where an injunction is presented just as a neutral statement.

For example, one example that I like and let’s not have a misunderstanding here. I don’t smoke and I’m for punishing tobacco companies and so on and so on. But I’m deeply suspicious a...

For the full transcript, check out
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Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | BEST OF 2015

Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism
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Slavoj Žižek doesn't buy into political correctness. In fact, it frightens him. The famed philosopher and social critic describes political correctness as a tacit form of totalitarianism, an act of coercion built upon the premise that I know better than you what you really want. This isn't to say that people should be allowed to go around treating others poorly, but Žižek argues that employing coercion and scare tactics to instill a state of forced behavior completely missed the point. To Žižek, the kinds of obscenity targeted by political correctness are much more effective at breeding a sense of shared solidarity than most alternatives.
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK:

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

rnŽižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the Elvis of philosophy and an academic rock star. His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TRANSCRIPT:

Slavoj Zizek: Of course I have nothing against the fact that your boss treats you in a nice way and so on. The problem is if this not only covers up the actual relationship of power, but makes it even more impenetrable. You know, if you have a boss who is up there, the old-fashioned boss shouting at you, exerting full brutal authority. In a way it’s much easier to rebel than to have a friendly boss who embraces you or how was the last night with your girlfriend, blah, blah, all that buddy stuff. Well then it almost appears impolite to protest. But I will give you an example, an old story that I often use to make it clear what do I mean by this. Imagine you or me, I’m a small boy. It’s Sunday afternoon. My father wants me to visit our grandmother. Let’s say my father is a traditional authority. What would he be doing? He would probably tell me something like, I don’t care how you feel; it’s your duty to visit your grandmother. Be polite to her and so on. Nothing bad about this I claim because I can still rebel and so on. It’s a clear order.

But what would the so-called post-modern non-authoritarian father do? I know because I experienced it. He would have said something like this, You know how much your grandmother loves you, but nonetheless I’m not forcing you to visit her. You should only visit her if you freely decide to do it. Now every child knows that beneath the appearance of free choice there is a much stronger pressure in this second message. Because basically your father is not only telling you, you must visit your grandmother, but you must love to visit it. You know he tells you how you must feel about it. It’s a much stronger order. And I think that this is for me almost a paradigm of modern permissive authority. This is why the formula of totalitarianism is not — I don’t care what you think; just do it. This is traditional authoritarianism. The totalitarian formula is I know better than you what you really want and I may appear to be forcing you to do it, but I’m really just making you do what without fully knowing what you want and so on. So in this sense yes, I am horrified by this. Also another aspect this new culture of experts where an injunction is presented just as a neutral statement.

For example, one example that I like and let’s not have a misunderstanding here. I don’t smoke and I’m for punishing tobacco companies and so on and so on. But I’m deeply suspicious a...

For the full transcript, check out
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Slavoj Žižek Vs Will Self in Dangerous Ideas

Zizeks New Book -

An evening of Dangerous Ideas with the philosopher Slavoj Žižek and polemicist Will Self. Exchanging ideas over todays ideological, political and economic faultlines, from mass migration and geopolitical tension to explosions of populist, ethnic and religious passion, all framed by a global capitalism which seems bent on provoking its own apocalyptic demise.

Zizek has been called the most dangerous thinker in the West, an intellectual activist with a frenzied appetite for big ideas, and for revealing their hidden life inside our everyday concerns. Nothing is safe from his attention, whether Hegel or vampire movies. As a public critic he has been remorselessly critical of liberal democracy, for purveying freedoms which are illusory and complicit with the unfreedoms from which it claims to protect us. With increasing urgency, Zizek would like us to wake up.

Recorded May 18th 2017 in London
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Slavoj Zizek — Why white liberals love identity politics

In this excerpt from a talk and Q&A given at the Institute for the Radical Imagination on 08/10/2019 titled 'For a Left that Dares to Speak its Name', Zizek discusses why white liberals love identity politics and political correctness, arguing that their emphasis on minorities' identities gives them a monopoly on universality.
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Slavoj Žižek — Racial Enjoyments: What the Liberal Left Doesn’t Want to Hear

Deutsches Haus at NYU and the Department of German at NYU present a talk by Slavoj Žižek, professor of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, who spoke on Racial Enjoyments: What the Liberal Left Doesn’t Want to Hear. The event was introduced by Professor Avital Ronell.
Wednesday, November 9, 6:00 p.m.
Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center, Theater 102, 36 E 8th St, New York

Slavoj Žižek engages Nikki Johnson-Huston, who recently described how white Liberals have hijacked the conversation about diversity, political correctness and what topics we should be outraged about. His lecture provides some theoretical background and discussion points to complement her perspicacious insights. The status of the university campus as locus for racialist mappings will be scrupulously reviewed.

Slavoj Žižek, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a visiting professor at a number of American Universities (Columbia, Princeton, New School for Social Research, New York University, University of Michigan). He obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He also studied at the University of Paris. Slavoj Zizek is a Hegelian philosopher, Lacanian psychoanalyst, and Marxist social analyst. He is the author of The Indivisible Remainder, The Sublime Object of Ideology, The Metastases of Enjoyment, Looking Awry: Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture, and The Plague of Fantasies, and The Ticklish Subject. His latest publications are Disparities, and Antigone (both at Bloomsbury Press, London).

Avital Ronell is University Professor of the Humanities at New York University and Jacques Derrida Professor of Philosophy and Media at The European Graduate School in Switzerland. In her work and teaching, Avita Ronell has relentlessly enfolded Germanistik in deconstructive reading practices, frequently taking the off-ramp into media technology and political theory. She taught an annual course with Derrida for a decade at N.Y.U. Avital Ronell gave 9 performance lectures at Centre Pompidou, beginning with a conversation and film premiere of/with Werner Herzog and including a dance, video and discussion with Judith Butler. She also wrote and performed a critical autothanatography at Hau3 in Berlin, What was I Thinking? A Spectral Colloquy, about the one night's stand of Hermeneutics and deconstruction--of which she claims to have been the illegitimate result. Most recently she offered a lecture at the Théâtre de l'Odéon with Pierre Alferi on the disappearance of authority (Arendt, Kojève, Marcuse, Luther, et al). Recent works include The Test Drive, The Ueberreader, Fighting Theory, and Loser Sons: Politics and Authority. A conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Telephone Book was held at Deutsches Haus at NYU two years ago.

Racial Enjoyments: What the Liberal Left Doesn’t Want to Hear is a DAAD-sponsored event.

Video recorded and edited by Laia Cabrera & Co.

Slavoj Žižek: How Political Correctness Actually Elected Donald Trump | Big Think

Slavoj Žižek: How Political Correctness Actually Elected Donald Trump
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Prepare to traverse the U.S. political landscape, Slavoj Žižek style. It’s wild, zig-zagging, and you can practically see the neurons fire when you ask the Slovenian philosopher for his take on the U.S. Presidential election results. Žižek begins by stating that America’s political machinery is broken. Borrowing a term popularized by Noam Chomsky, Žižek states that the traditional media machine for manufacturing consent – all the platforms that support a certain propaganda and subtly build the public to a point of agreement – spluttered and came to a stop on November 8, 2016. At least, in the eyes of the liberals.
Žižek warns that he is in no way pro-Trump, going so far as to call him ‘scum’ and a ‘dirty, disgusting human being’, but there is something all those on the left should appreciate about the President Elect; he did what liberals have been trying to do for decades – he nearly single-handedly destroyed the Republican party. Compared to party members like Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, Žižek argues that Trump is at least human next to those aliens. Trump’s vulgarity is different to theirs; he is wild and uncensored in a way that reveals a common human baseness. This is an appeal everyone but Trump supporters underestimated, the exhibition of bare humanity.
Alluring as it is to some, with it comes what Žižek calls ‘the disintegration of public values, of public manners, this obscene situation where you can talk about whatever you want. Is political correctness the solution? No, says Žižek, legislating language and expression is a process he fears, especially when it’s institutionalized. When the government stops saying torture and uses euphemisms like ‘enhanced interrogation’ it makes processes less transparent. The whole point is that if a behavior or a thing is deplorable, it should be called exactly what it is so the corresponding shame of speaking it, or enacting it, regulates that behavior. If you’re afraid of war breaking out then breathe easy, because in Žižek’s eyes it was actually Hillary Clinton, the establishment candidate compared to Trumps wildcard status, who would have brought us closer to that danger. She speaks the evolved and tricky language of politics, Trump speaks on the baseline.
Žižek weaves so much more between these points – watch it once, and then again, to catch onto the comet tail of his train of thought.
Slavoj Žižek's most recent book is Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail.
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK:
Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Pandemic!: COVID-19 Shakes the World.
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TRANSCRIPT:
Slavoj Žižek: I know that even in the United States when you have someone like Donald Trump, I know that there is a lot of elitist liberal reaction. Like here we see the limit of democracy but in the wrong sense, in the sense that you see stupid ordinary people are seduced and so on and so on. Well, although Noam Chomsky doesn't like me very much, I admire him sincerely and I must admit that I like his term. I think it's not just a journalistic term, it's a concept, which he took over from American tradition even mainstream right wing liberal of manufacturing consent. You know, Democracy is not only formal rules of elections, democracy is an entire thick network of how political consensus is built; a lot of unwritten rules. And now I think the United States are at a very important moment, at the moment when this machine to build consensus has broken down. Now these are moments which can be catastrophic. In such moments direct fascism can take over, but this can be also moments when the left, or whatever would be the new left, provides a new answer. So my first reaction to those elitists liberals who claim you see the stupid rednecks, white trash or whatever are voting for Trump, yes but it's your responsibility. One moment of truth in all those enraged people who vote for Trump it that they...
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Slavoj Žižek: Don't Act. Just Think. | Big Think

Don't Act. Just Think.
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Philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek has a bone to pick with the PC movement. While he doesn’t buy into the right-wing paranoid view that the politically correct among us are evil people who want to destroy the American way of life, he does think they’re doing some damage. Žižek questions whether censoring our expression really addresses racial tension – or does it merely give birth to a politer form of racism (or sexism, or religious and political differences)? Tolerance has started to work against its own agenda, becoming a patronizing insult to those who think differently to you, a way of brushing off and compartmentalizing differences rather than listening and connecting. Žižek recommends we add a tasteful dose of obscenity and humor to our interactions with each other in order to make them more genuine. Covering up racism with nicer words doesn’t eradicate it, but laughing at each other’s differences – in the right way – can unite a world of others. Slavoj Žižek's most recent book is Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK:

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

rnŽižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the Elvis of philosophy and an academic rock star. His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Slavoj Žižek: I know that there is a lot of sexual harassment, racism and so on in our lives and I don't doubt that the majority of people who promote political correctness mean it sincerely. I'm not saying that. I'm not saying in the way of right wing paranoia that they are evil people who want to destroy American way of life, I'm just saying this that the way they approach the problem is that instead of resolving it the predominant effect is just to keep it under check and allowing the true problem, racism, sexism, to survive in a more covered up version and so on and so on. For example, I always like this extreme example. Let's take racist jokes. Yes they function in a racist way, but for me the true overcoming of racism is not that you prohibit racist jokes, but that you establish a social, not even only social change, new society, but even such a change of atmosphere that you can tell exactly the same jokes without appearing a racist. When you are simply in a true relationship of equality, respect and so on, sometimes dirty jokes, even gently racist jokes done in a non-racist way, by this I mean that you including yourself and you make fun of yourself and so on, they're incredible. I think your American term is icebreakers.

Because it's easy to be a non-racist in this political correct way oh I respect your food, your national identities, no. When does it happen real contact with another? I claim it's very difficult to arrive at it without a small exchange of an obscenity. It works in a wonderful way. So I claim for me and ideal post racist situation is let's say I am an Indian and you are an African American. We are telling all the time dirty jokes to each other about each other about ourselves, but in such a way that we just laugh and the more we are telling them the more we are friends. Why? Because in this way we really resolved the tension of racism. What I'm afraid, now coming back to your question, with political correctness is that it's a des...

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Slavoj Zizek — The origins of Political Correctness

Zizek discusses the origins of PC culture, linking it back to the student protests and culture wars of the '60s and arguing against the 'culturalisation of the left'.

John Cleese: Political Correctness Can Lead to an Orwellian Nightmare | Big Think

Political Correctness Can Lead to an Orwellian Nightmare
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John Cleese says political correctness has gone too far, especially on America's college campuses, where he will no longer go to perform. The very essence of his trade — comedy — is criticism and that not infrequently means hurt feelings. But protecting everyone from negative emotion all the time is not only impractical (one can't control the feelings of another), but also improper in a free society. Cleese, having worked with psychiatrist Robin Skynner, says there may even be something more sinister behind the insistence to always be politically correct.
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JOHN CLEESE:

John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, comedian, writer and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Later, he co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures, both of which he also wrote. He also starred in Clockwise and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films as Q, two Harry Potter films, and the last three Shrek films.

With Yes Minister writer Antony Jay he co-founded Video Arts, a production company making entertaining training films. In 1976, Cleese co-founded The Secret Policeman's Ball benefit shows to raise funds for the human rights organization Amnesty International.
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TRANSCRIPT:

John Cleese: I'm offended every day. For example, the British newspapers every day offend me with their laziness, their nastiness, and their inaccuracy, but I'm not going to expect someone to stop that happening; I just simply speak out about it. Sometimes when people are offended they want — you can just come in and say, Right, stop that. to whoever it is offending them. And, of course, as a former chairman of the BBC one said, There are some people who I would wish to offend. And I think there's truth in that too. So the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to. And a fellow who I helped write two books about psychology and psychiatry was a renowned psychiatrist in London called Robin Skynner said something very interesting to me. He said, If people can't control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people's behavior. And when you're around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what's going to upset them next. And that's why I've been warned recently don't to go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, which is let's not be mean in particular to people who are not able to look after themselves very well — that's a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism or any individual or group could be labeled cruel.

And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, and believe you me I thought about this, is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke like how would you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans. Now that's about the human condition; it's not excluding anyone. It's saying we all have all these plans, which probably won't come and isn't it funny how we still believe they're going to happen. So that's a very inclusive joke. It's still critical. All humor is critical. If you start to say, We mustn't; we mustn't criticize or offend them, then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I'm concerned, you're living in 1984.
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Slavoj Zizek — Political correctness, victimhood, Elizabeth Warren

Slavoj Zizek discusses a number of different issues pertaining to the contemporary liberal left. Brief excerpt from a longer talk given at the Cambridge Union. Full version:
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Slavoj Žižek: How Political Correctness Actually Elected Donald Trump | Best '16 | Big Think

Slavoj Žižek: How Political Correctness Actually Elected Donald Trump
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Free speech is paramount, but how you use your speech defines you as a person. When our politicians stop demanding the moral high ground, we are in a very dangerous place, says Hawke.
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ETHAN HAWKE :
Ethan Hawke is an American actor, novelist, screenwriter, and director. Hawke received Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild Supporting Actor nominations for his work in Antoine Fuqua's Training Day, opposite Denzel Washington. Hawke most recently appeared in Robert Budreau’s “Born to Be Blue,” for which he received rave reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival for his depiction of legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker.
In 1996, Hawke wrote his first novel, The Hottest State, published by Little Brown and now in its nineteenth printing. In 2002, his second novel, Ash Wednesday, was published by Knopf and was chosen for Bloomsbury's contemporary classics series. Additionally, Hawke's 2016 graphic novel, Indeh, with illustrator Greg Ruth, captures the narrative of two nations at war who strive to find peace and forgiveness in a time of great upheaval.
At the age of twenty-one, Hawke founded the Malaparte Theater Co., which remained open for more than five years giving young artists a home to develop their craft. The next year, in 1992, Hawke made his Broadway debut in The Seagull. Additionally, he has appeared in Henry IV alongside Richard Easton on Broadway; Buried Child (Steppenwolf); Hurlyburly, for which he earned a Lucille Lortel Award Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor and Drama League Award Nomination for Distinguished Performance (The New Group); Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, for which he was honored with a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play and Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance (Lincoln Center); the inaugural season of The Bridge Project's double billings of The Cherry Orchard and A Winter's Tale, which garnered Hawke a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Old Vic); and Blood From A Stone (The New Group) which earned him a 2011 Obie Award for Performance. In 2010, Hawke directed Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, for which he received a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play as well as recognition in the New York Times and The New Yorker top ten lists of the leading theatre productions in 2010.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Ethan Hawke:  The idea that people somehow feel comfortable enough to cheer and laugh when Donald Trump is mocking somebody by calling them Pocahontas, right. Pocahontas – to be totally honest with you and not to be totally corny it makes me want to cry. Because we’re going to get the leaders in this life that we deserve. And if we walk around and we think that stuff is funny – what people I think admire about Trump is that he’s willing to say an off color thing. And I understand what people mean by that. That we live in a culture where – what’s the right – remember Martin Luther King said I prefer the racist because I know where he stands. What I don’t like is all the quiet people who might be secretly – I can’t work with somebody who’s secretly a racist. And so in a way bring it out Donald Trump. Bring it out. Bring out all the toxic stuff. Let’s everybody – and really make sure you want to cheer for that. Really make sure you think that’s funny. Really study who Pocahontas was and you really think that’s not something to be proud of? I mean I’d be honored if somebody were to call me Pocahontas.
If our elected officials aren’t demanding ethical higher ground than we’re in a very dangerous place. And I find that kind of jingoistic hate talk to be terrifying because it’s always – history shows it’s always the easy way. Whenever we’re upset and whenever we’re angry if somebody gives us a chance to express our anger it feels good temporarily. It does. When the two towers fall if you want to start making anti-Arab sentiments for a second it feels good because it feels like a place to put your rage. What it usually does is create a cycle of violence.
A large percentage of the people that I know that support the unmentionable game show host running for president, what they admire about him is that he doesn’t seem chained to some kind of political correctness and it makes him seem like a maverick and it makes – it immediately gives...
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Slavoj Žižek: Why There Are No Viable Political Alternatives to Unbridled Capitalism | Big Think

Why There Are No Viable Political Alternatives to Unbridled Capitalism
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Behind every rise of fascism is a failed revolution, said the Frankfurt School thinker Walter Benjamin. Here, Slavoj Žižek revives that statement in the context of so-called Islamic fascism, or Islamic fundamentalism. What can explain the rise of groups like ISIS? The secular Islamic left, which grew in popularity through the 1950s and 60s, has weakened, if not failed, leaving no program effective enough to mobilize the millions of people needed for a popular movement.
Why has the left failed? According to Žižek, it failed to appreciate the end of the 20th century. Not only has Stalinist communism failed — today in China, the main function of the communist party is capitalist in nature, i.e. to prevent the rise of a workers' rights party — but social democracy has also failed. The welfare state of western Europe is no longer liberal, i.e. new and progressive, but a conservative force that tries to hold onto rights that were gained decades ago. According to Žižek, life is moving too fast — through digital, scientific, and economic changes — for old rights to apply.
Finally, local democracy is no longer an applicable model of society on which the left can build a political platform. Unlike Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former finance minister, who believes simple democratic reorganization of power represents a path forward for Europe, Žižek points to the immigrant crisis in Europe. Angela Merkel has defied the will of the German people to accept Syrian immigrants into her state. She has acted anti-democratically, and yet liberally.
What is ultimately needed is a new conception of the left — a new kind of progressive platform — that does not rely on old tropes. We must either rely on that, says Žižek, or prepare for the Hunger Games-inspired society which Hollywood has warned us is coming down the pike.
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK:
Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Pandemic!: COVID-19 Shakes the World.
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TRANSCRIPT:
Slavoj Žižek: I still believe in the saying of this oath Frankford School fellow traveler Marxist Valter Benjamin who said that behind every rise of fascism there is a failed revolution. I think even if we strategically, I'm not sure about it, accept this term Islam fascism for Islamic fundamentalist, this so called Islam fundamentalism is strictly relative with the disintegration of secular Islamic left, which was pretty strong in the '50s, '60s and so on, but then began to disintegrate. So I think we shouldn't be too fascinated with this phenomenon. We should rather ask what happened with the left. I think this phenomenon of right wing populism are strictly the obverse of something that did not happen. They didn't just happen, they happened because something else didn't happen because the left didn't provide a proper answer. And that's for me the true tragedy today. On the one hand we are entering a period, and we are already in this period for almost ten years, where rage, discontent are exploding everywhere, even in our Western countries, Occupy Wall Street in Europe, the demonstrations in France, Greece and so on. On the other hand it is as if the left, even if it succeeds in, sometimes not always, in recapturing the energy of this rage cannot really offer a new political model that would be not only seductive enough to mobilize millions of people, but even in itself it doesn't have enough consistency. What I'm saying is this, in Europe we didn't yet fully accept the fact that the 20th century is over. By this I mean the following: The 20th century left, which had basically three strengths orientations, Stalinist communism, that's over. Not only it's over, in a beautiful irony where ex-communists are still in power they are mostly the most efficient agents of the most ruthless new liberal global capitalism...
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Slavoj Zizek — Marxism & Political Correctness

In this clip, Zizek argues that political correctness is not rooted in traditional Marxism but is much rather a mere left-liberal bourgeois excess that ignores more fundamental economic questions.

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Slavoj Žižek: We Need Thinking | Big Think

Slavoj Žižek: We Need Thinking
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Slavoj Zizek answers the question, Do you think science has replaced philosophy in discovering the bigger questions of life? Philosophy is not dying, he says -- in fact, we need it more now than ever.
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK:

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

Žižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the Elvis of philosophy and an academic rock star. His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Slavoj Zizek: More than ever we need philosophy today. Even the most speculative (in the sense of reflecting on itself) science has to rely on a set of automatic presuppositions, like a scientist simply presupposes in his or her very approach to nature a set of implications of how the nature functions, what's the causality in nature and so on and so on. And philosophy teaches us that. Philosophy teaches us what we have to know without knowing it in order to function, even in science -- the silent presuppositions.

I claim that what is happening, for example, in quantum physics in the last 100 of years -- these things which are so daring, incredible, that we cannot include into our conscious view of reality -- that Hegel’s philosophy, with all it’s dialectical paradoxes, can be of some help here. I claim that reading quantum physics through Hegel and vice versa is very productive.

What I really want do is rehabilitate classical philosophy today. That is to say, Hegel was a child of his time. We are 200 years later. How to repeat Hegel, not to do the same things as he did but repeat in new circumstances the same gesture? And even here more for Hegel than for Marx. I think we should even return from Marx back to Hegel. So this is the focus of my work. Then come all the things for which I’m unfortunately better known, for example, my dealings with critique of capitalism, analysis of popular culture and so on and so on. But frankly, to use the not very appropriate metaphor known from today’s military adventures, all this, my writings on politics, on analysis of Hollywood and so on, is more or less collateral damage of my basic work.

I think this is also what has to be done today. The danger today is precisely a kind of a bland, pragmatic activism. You know, like when people tell you, oh my God, children in Africa are starving and you have time for your stupid philosophical debates. Let’s do something. I always hear in this call there are people starving. Let’s do something. I always discern in this a more ominous injunction. Do it and don't think too much. Today, we need thinking.

Interviewed by Megan Erickson
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

There are two kinds of identity politics. One is good. The other, very bad. | Jonathan Haidt

There are two kinds of identity politics. One is good. The other, very bad.
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Freedom is speech is being eradicated on college campuses in favor of identity politics and snowflake culture.

Rather than be open to new ideas, differing opinions that might make students feel bad are shut out.

This creates a cycle of negativity between not only the colleges and the students but also the very idea of college being a place of higher learning.
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JONATHAN HAIDT:

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Righteous Mind and The Happiness Hypothesis.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Jonathan Haidt: In the United States right now, as many people have noticed, we are seeing a huge escalation of our long running culture war, unfortunately universities are all right in the heart of that. So, the right and especially right wing media love to show video clips of students saying outrageous things. They love to say that universities are bastions of political correctness – they've lost their minds.

The left is motivated to say no there's not a problem, there's nothing going on it's just that the right hates ideas, they hate universities. What Greg and I do in the book is we say, No we're going to cut through the culture war. Let's just look at what's going on, let's look at what a university should do. And so when we talk about identity politics, which is a controversial topic, we start by saying of course you need identity politics. Identity politics is not a bad thing automatically. Politics can be based on any distinction. It can be based on any group interest. So for gay students or black students or women to organize that's identity politics, that's perfectly legitimate. The question is how are they organizing? What's the over arching framework? And we've seen two versions of it in American history. You can do it the way most of the civil rights leaders did it, Martin Luther King in particular, where you draw a larger circle around the group, you emphasize what we have in common and then you say some of our brothers and sisters are being denied equal access, equal opportunity or equal dignity. That works. That has worked historically in much tougher times and zones and that works and will work on college campuses.

The other way you do it, which is growing on college campuses, is common enemy identity politics. It's based on the Bedouin notion: Me against my brother, me and my brother against our cousin, me my brother and cousin against the stranger. It's a very general principle of social psychology. If you try to unite people: Let's all unite against them. They're the bad people. They're the cause of the problems. Let's all stick together. That's a really dangerous thing to do in a multiethnic society, especially in a university where we're actually all trying to work together to solve the problem.

We have to work on our speech climate. In the business world it's called speak up culture. In the academic world it's called just basic openness to ideas.

When you put people together and you want them to talk, of course people have a lot of different goals and fears. Nobody wants to say something stupid, nobody wants to say something that will get them into trouble. If you can create a really trusting environment in which we're all in this together, contribute your ideas. If someone says something you think it's wrong, say so. That's going to lead to more innovation. That's going to lead to more progress.

But what if you have an environment in which if I say something that offends anyone they can report me anonymously to HR or some other entity. I'm going to think three times before I speak up. That's what we have on campus. In the bathrooms at my university there are signs telling students how to report me anonymously if I say anything that offends them so I don't feel free to speak up when I'm on campus. I can speak more openly off-campus, but on campus I have to watch myself. As one student said to a friend of mine, My motto is silence is safer. Just shut up and you won't get in trouble. Now this is a terrible speech climate. A university cannot function if people are defensive in this way. So in universities, in organizations that value innovation we have to not just encourage people to speak, we have to assure them that they're not going to be shamed, humiliated or punished for sharing an opinion in good faith...

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The Optimism of Melancholia | Slavoj Žižek | Big Think

The Optimism of Melancholia
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The philosopher on why Melancholia is actually an optimistic movie.
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SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

Žižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the Elvis of philosophy and an academic rock star. His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Slavoj Zizek: Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, I think, it’s a basically, I’m not kidding, optimistic film, even as we know at the end the planet Melancholia hits the earth, we all die. But I find something beautifully poetical in the attitude of the main person, Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, no, this inner peace, how she accepts this.

I claim that we should not read this as kind of a pessimism. “Oh, we all die. Who cares?” No, if you really want to do something good for society, if you want to avoid all totalitarian threats and so on, you basically should go . . . we should all go to this, let me call it--although I’m a total materialist--fundamentally spiritual experience of accepting that at some day everything will finish, that at any point the end may be near. I think that, quite on the contrary of what may appear, this can be a deep experience which pushes you to strengthen ethical activity.

The result of this experience is not, “Oh, the end may be near, so let’s kill, let’s just enjoy,” and so on. No, it’s the opposite. Again, paradoxically, I claim it’s not a superficially but profoundly optimistic film.

Interviewed by Megan Erickson
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
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REVOLUTIONARY PHILOSOPHY Ft Slavoj Zizek, philosopher

Revolutions are often initiated by idealists, carried out by fanatics and hijacked by scoundrels. These observations by philosopher Thomas Carlyle still ring true about many of the revolutions we've seen in recent years. To what extent can revolutionary goals be achieved through violence, and when is the cost of change too high? Oksana is joined by influential philosopher Slavoj Zizek to analyse these issues.

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Slavoj Žižek | Why Be Happy When You Could Be Interesting? | Big Think

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Interesting?
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Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.

Žižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the Elvis of philosophy and an academic rock star. His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Slavoj Zizek: You know, happiness is for me a very conformist category. It doesn't enter the frame. You have a serious ideological deviation at the very beginning of a famous proclamation of independence -- you know, pursuit of happiness. If there is a point in psychoanalysis, it is that people do not really want or desire happiness, and I think it’s good that it is like that.

For example, let’s be serious: when you are in a creative endeavor, in that wonderful fever--“My God, I’m onto something!” and so on--, happiness doesn't enter it. You are ready to suffer. Sometimes scientists--I read history of quantum physics or earlier of radiation--were even ready to take into account the possibility that they will die because of some radiation and so on. Happiness is, for me, an unethical category.

And also, we don't really want to get what we think that we want. The classical story that I like, the traditional male chauvinist scenario: I am married to a wife, relations with her are cold, and I have a mistress, and all the time I dream, “Oh my God, if my wife were to disappear . . . ,” I’m not a murderer, but let us say, “it would open up new life for me with the mistress.” You know what every psychoanalyst will tell you quite often happens? That then, for some reason, wife goes away, you lose the mistress, also.

You thought this is all I want. When you had it there, you found out that it was a much more complex situation, where what you want is not really to live with the mistress but to keep her at a distance as an object of desire about which you dream. And this is not just an excessive situation. I claim that this is how things function. We don't really want what we think we desire.
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Big Think is the leading source of expert-driven, actionable, educational content -- with thousands of videos, featuring experts ranging from Bill Clinton to Bill Nye, we help you get smarter, faster. S​ubscribe to learn from top minds like these daily. Get actionable lessons from the world’s greatest thinkers & doers. Our experts are either disrupting or leading their respective fields. ​We aim to help you explore the big ideas and core skills that define knowledge in the 21st century, so you can apply them to the questions and challenges in your own life.

Other Frequent contributors include Michio Kaku & Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Michio Kaku Playlist:
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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Playlist:

Read more at Bigthink.com for a multitude of articles just as informative and satisfying as our videos. New articles posted daily on a range of intellectual topics.

Join Big Think Edge, to gain access to a world-class learning platform focused on building the soft skills essential to 21st century success. It features insight from many of the most celebrated and intelligent individuals in the world today. Topics on the platform are focused on: emotional intelligence, digital fluency, health and wellness, critical thinking, creativity, communication, career development, lifelong learning, management, problem solving & self-motivation.

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-------------------

Lewis Black: Political Correctness is Between Uptight and Stupid

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Lewis Black argues that when it comes to comedy, defying political correctness is categorically different from mean-spirited rhetoric, plus political correctness has no desire to laugh.

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LEWIS BLACK

Lewis Black uses his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger-pointing to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin. His comedic brilliance lies in his ability to make people laugh at the absurdities of life, with topics that include current events, social media, politics and anything else that exposes the hypocrisy and madness he sees in the world.


Born in Washington D.C. on Aug. 30, 1948, Black was raised in Silver Spring, Md. Degrees followed from the University of North Carolina and Yale Drama School, with a stint in Colorado owning a theatre with a group of friends in the interim. During his tenure at UNC, Black ventured into stand-up, performing at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill. Stand-up was a steady presence as he pursued his career in theatre. Black eventually settled in New York City and became the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Café’s Downstairs Theatre Bar. He oversaw the development of more than 1,000 plays, including works by “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin, “American Beauty” writer Alan Ball, as well as his own original works. In addition to overseeing the works on stage, Black emceed every show. He left the West Bank in the late 1980s to pursue stand-up full time.


In 1996, his friend Lizz Winstead tapped him to create a weekly segment for Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” The segment, a three-minute rant about whatever was bothering him at the moment, evolved into Back in Black, becoming one of the most popular and longest-running segments on the show for both the Jon Stewart era, and now The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.





In 2015, Black joined the cast of Madoff (ABC mini series). Black portrays Ezra Merkin, who, after investing with Madoff and receiving great returns, brought many famous and well-to-do Jewish clients, including Elie Wiesel and The Hadassah Organization, to Bernie’s fold. Black has penned more than 40 plays, many of which have been produced around the country. In 2015, Black notably voiced the character “Anger” in the Oscar nominated film from Pixar, “Inside Out.”


 

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TRANSCRIPT:

Lewis Black: Political correctness has got no room in comedy. There's no room for political correctness. It implies that you're going to say something that is going to be, it's going to go over the line; it's going to be aggressive; it's going to be upsetting; it might imply something about someone or some group. There's political correctness and then there's just out right hate stuff, bigoted comedy. But political correctness has a tendency to jump the gun before you get to bigotry 


Political correctness has no sense of humor, so it doesn't know. I will mention guns in my act, and not that this is politically correct, it's the same sort of thing. I'll say guns and then the audience - you immediately feel the audience get uptight because I've said nothing but guns. They don't know what I'm going to say; they have no idea; they got no clue and they jump on it.


So, what happens in a politically incorrect joke is they hear the first part and they stop listening. So they don't know what the goddamn joke is about. I have little or no time for it. And if you have trouble with that what you do is you laugh – if you think a joke was mean bad or something that was politically incorrect, you still laugh at the joke and you go Ha, ha, ha and then later on you go, “That was bad. I was bad to laugh at that.” Do it on your own time.


I would go to a college campus. The last one I went to was Penn State last year and it may have been even longer ago when Sandusky – they had just gone through the year of Sandusky and Paterno. My opening act had even done Sandusky - jokes about him. And we thought “We can't do that because these kids have just been…” - and when you got onstage you realized these kids are shell-shocked because they're not even laughing at what they normally would laugh at. 


Afterwards when we avoided the topic completely the kid who writes for the paper wrote that - the way he put it - we were pussies for not talking about it. So, it doesn't matter which way you go you're going to lose some of the time.


I always take the moment - because when I'm on a campus or I...

For the full transcript, check out

In Conversation with... SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK | TIFF 2016

Slavoj Žižek — popularly known as the most dangerous philosopher in the West and the Elvis of cultural theory — joins us to speak about philosophy, the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, and how cinema can serve an important role in understanding contemporary cross-cultural conflict.

Žižek is an internationally renowned philosopher, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University, and founder and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He has written extensively on cinema, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Hegelianism, and his books include Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan...But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock (92), Enjoy Your Symptom: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out (92), The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch's Lost Highway (00), and The Fright of Real Tears: Krzysztof Kieslowski Between Theory and Post-Theory (01). He also stars in the Sophie Fiennes-directed documentaries The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (06) and The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (12), and the Astra Taylor documentary Žižek! (05).

This event is co-presented with York University's Department of Cinema & Media Arts through its Norman Jewison Series as part of York's conference COMING TO TERMS WITH FILM-PHILOSOPHY.

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