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The Vault: PCU (1994)

It's fair to say that a lot of comedians, and people in general, have had issues with political correctness, particularly when it is taken to extremes. People worry, and rightfully so, about cultural movements that aim to limit freedoms. PCU was released in 17 years ago, in 1994, when public worries about political correctness were cresting. It's a standard college comedy with the standard cast of characters: the everyman, Jeremy Piven plays the Van Wilder archetype; the stoner, Jon Favreau puts in an early role as the oft-confused Gutter; David Spade takes a turn as the wealthy elite; we also have the frosh, the love interest, and other standards.

PCU fails to make a coherent argument against political correctness. The premise is that all the tolerance of different groups is fracturing society, while it would be better if we were all as one. You know, e pluribus unum and all that jazz. It's a pretty weak thesis, considering that political correctness originated as a way to ease cultural frictions arising from multiculturalism by replacing the pejorative terms with (more) accurate ones. To claim that society would be better off if we all acted the same misses the point. Society is not homogeneous. The real shame with political correctness, and an ironic one for a movement based entirely around the use of language, is that the word "political" managed to sneak in there. It's a misnomer for a cultural phenomenon, and it acts as a lever for injecting invective into the debate.

Poorly made criticisms of PC aside, PCU is a relatively enjoyable college film. And it's worth seeing just for the George Clinton parts.

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