“Cancel culture”, which has been calling the shots for the last two or three years, is basically about a consensus view among p.c. progressives that ruining careers of this or that sexist abuser or criminal will send the strongest message to other potential abusers to stop and desist. Younger progressive women are understandably the main believers and drivers. Certain abusers obviously deserve cancelling, others are or were more deserving of temporary ostracism (Aziz Ansari), and a third group arguably doesn’t deserve to be on anyone’s hit list at all.
I’ve heard and read that “cancel culture” would love to deepsix Bill Maher, to mention one example, but they don’t have the horses.
As HE readers know, cancel culture deep-sixed my Sundance press pass late last year. I still covered Sundance ’19 by the good graces of my publicist pals, but it’s creepy nonetheless. I haven’t abused anyone — I’m just an opinionated bigmouth. Have I written five or six ill-advised or clumsily-phrased posts that I regret putting to pen? Yeah, but nothing I can’t mount a vigorous defense of if you wanna get into it. (Which I don’t at this point.) I’ve behaved like an asshole now and then, sure. The heaviest hits came from a couple of posts that surfaced a decade ago (partly due to an imbibing lifestyle I was leading at the time). I wish I could wipe it all away.
But these are zing blips on the screen compared to the torrents of material I’ve posted since the launch of HE in August ’04, not to mention the previous column material (Mr. Showbiz, Reel.com, Movie Poop Shoot) that I posted from ’98 to ’04. Not to mention my mainstream reportings in the bigtime ’90s and before.
Anyway, having actually felt the hot breath of the p.c. Stasi on the back of my neck, I damn near melted with love and gratitude when I read Sarah Silverman’s recent comments about cancel culture, as shared on an 8.8 Bill Simmons podcast.
Silverman: “I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part, then at 11 pm the night before they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode. I didn’t fight it. They hired someone else who is wonderful but who has never stuck their neck out. It was so disheartening. It just made me real, real sad, because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right.”
However, Silverman said, cancel culture, which she has called “righteousness porn,” is “really scary and it’s a very odd thing that it’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it.
“It’s like, if you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s so odd. It’s a perversion. It’s really ‘look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.’”
From my perspective there are aspects of cancel culture that are as serious as a heart attack. It’s basically p.c. McCarthyism, and no less odious than the 1950s kind. Writers with commie ties from the 1930s were thrown under the bus in the late ’40s and ’50s, and now anyone who misspoke or misstepped in some asinine way five or ten or fifteen years ago is under threat of cancellation by purist p.c. goon squads.