Today I woke up and looked at my Facebook feed and immediately got depressed. Today is Inauguration Day. The day when our great nation transfers power from one President to the next. It's supposed to be a beautiful thing, yet my Facebook feed was filled with friends, acquaintances and others from both parties posting snarky jokes and jabs at the other side. It saddened me. I would think that in a civilized society, we would be above this. Unfortunately, it speaks volumes of those who feel the need to spread divisiveness...even through humor.
I've always gone to great lengths to make sure that ALL of my shows, not just my library shows are all-inclusive and non-offensive. Some may see adding political or social commentary to their show as being "relevant." That's not the way I see it. Let me share a little story with you.
Two years ago I was working on the "Universe of Stories" theme Summer Reading Program show. Of course, when considering tricks and routines that were space-themed, a natural choice was aliens from outer space. Well, at that time there was a lot of emphasis on people entering our country illegally. They were commonly referred to as "illegal aliens." In the Midwest, there are many undocumented workers and their families who find work in the agriculture and meat packing industries. I know that many times children of these workers may be in my audience and that the word "alien", even when applied to a little green man from mars, may make them uncomfortable. So, I made a choice to refer to the "aliens" in my show as "visitors" or "friends from another planet."
I posted my thoughts about this on a Facebook group dedicated to library and school magicians and was immediately criticized for being too politically correct. "People need to deal with it." "It's their problem if they get offended." "You're going too far." Were some of the comments I heard. One magician said that he even planned on making a joke about asking his alien if they had a Green Card.
So, did I go to far? Was I being too sensitive? Maybe. But if it meant that I kept one child from feeling bad or uncomfortable in my show, I think it was worth it. Changing a few words around to ensure that is no big deal, but could mean a lot to a child.
My show is unashamedly un-edgy, and I'm kind of proud of that.