(or, they’re black and white and discriminatory all over)
The title of this post refers to the Penguin biscuit brand, and not the aquatic animals who live near the South Pole, who don’t understand the concepts of either politics or incorrectness (hopefully, that is). In eating a Penguin biscuit today, and reading the pun on the back so witty and innovative that I’m surprised it hasn’t got its own show on BBC Four, I was horrified to see this get through the, presumably, rigorous proof-reading team:
“What did the Magician Penguin say to the other Penguin? Pick a cod, any cod”
Harmless enough, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Perhaps one of the wrongest assertions the human mind is capable of making, for this joke is shamelessly discriminatory – it divides the Penguin community, seen here to be both diverse and populous, into those who practice the magical arts, and, rather dismissively, those ‘others’ who do not.
The first issue here is the idea of there being a ‘Magician Penguin’, a phrase suggesting that there is but one type of wizard in our society, which is clearly false: there were Red, White and Black Mages in the first Final Fantasy game, and by the 12th edition the flexibility of ‘classes’ and the License Board meant that players didn’t have a designated ‘mage’ character, but had a series of more versatile characters, whose abilities and roles within the group were defined by the player’s playing style and impulsive decisions to spend all of their LP on one weapon, only to realise later that either another character in their party had said weapon, or the party couldn’t afford to purchase this weapon. 13-year-old me was a moron. This progression over time from a society of individuals, whose roles were defined before they were introduced, to a society of people who are free to determine their own purpose in life, shows a clear open-mindedness on the part of Square Enix that is sadly lacking in the minds of Penguin biscuits. Furthermore, the association between magicians and cheap card tricks is appalling; I find it frankly insulting that these biscuits would place street magicians on the level of this fool in the same category as this marvellous man. Magic, done on street corners to piss off random members of the public or otherwise, is itself a varied form of entertainment, with a multitude of different types of magicians and magic acts, a fact not grasped by Penguin biscuits.
The Penguin’s second horrible crime of discrimination is this idea of the ‘other’ Penguins. If this was in the context of a social interaction between humans, we wouldn’t stand for this: imagine one person happily bamboozling another, less educated individual, and making them feel hopelessly inadequate by flashing a bunch of cards in their face – “Hey, don’t know how that works? That’s because you’re stupid!” would appear to be the message here, delivered with all the subtlety of Dick and Dom’s forms of children’s’ entertainment. Also, ‘other’ suggests that there are just two people in this World – magicians and those who are not magicians. This, added to the singularity of the ‘magician’ noun, which as shown above suggests just one type of sorcerer, poses a question – are we to believe that if Penguin Biscuits had their way, the World would be crudely divided into the upper-class, ultra-specific wizardry, while everyone else, including doctors, entertainers, chemists, is part of the sub-class of those not blessed with the magical arts, in a feudal system that closely resembles 19th-CEntury Imperial Russia? I object to this crude hierarchy, and will strongly be opposing any attempts by this biscuit company to alter, even slightly, the existing social structure.
The obvious final step is to suggest an alternative to the original, offending, joke: if said joke is both restrictive in terms of who can be a ‘magician’, and fundamentally divides all of these wizards from the rest of society, then surely the politically correct joke will read: “What did one penguin, who has expertise in a variety of means and forms of wizardry, and whose specific knowledge of this disciple in no way defines the knowledge and understanding of any other penguin on this subject, say to another penguin, who may or may not be well-versed in the art of wizardry, a trait which we cannot determine from the information contained in this joke, but that for the purposes of this joke shall be said to not possess prior knowledge of the first penguin’s sorcerous intentions? Pick a cod, any cod?”. Isn’t that so much better, and less offensive for everyone?
Now all we need to do is cure the problem of all Penguin jokes being inherently crap.
– Club Penguin TV Advert (now with added penguins!)
– Fail-tacular Street Magician (a type of S&M more painful than FIfty Shades of Grey ever brought to our attention)
– Magical Trevor! (I’ve been on the Internet for a while, now)
– Dick and Dom play Bogies (and I’ve been watching TV for even longer)