The Morning Briefing: Cancel Culture Almost Canceled Itself on Tuesday Then Canceled That Idea
Cancel Culture Eats Its Own
2020 continues to impress, finding new ways to throw weird stuff at us and make us question if any of us ever were sane. For the record, I am currently a firm “No” on that at this point. I have been writing about cancel culture a lot this past year, most recently at the end of last month. Prior to even looking at today’s news I talked about cancel culture for much of my latest podcast episode, which is in today’s VIP section.
So it’s on my mind a lot.
Tuesday was shaping up to be one of the more interesting days in the cancel culture wars but — as with almost everything in 2020 — it quickly went right off of the rails.
Brian wrote post yesterday about the need for cancel culture to be canceled, which we here at the Briefing have been pushing for a lot. In it he detailed how even the beloved musical Hamilton is in the wokescolds’ sites:
“…less-woke era…” Hamilton isn’t the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind (which has also faced a cancel threat from HBO). It came out in 2015! And it has made many non-white American actors and theater folks very rich. It has sparked renewed interest in American history. But now some hard leftists who cannot abide anything impure by their own reckoning existing want it canceled.
One of the most anticipated streaming events of this year was the release of the Hamilton movie on Disney+ last weekend. Until these past couple of days, it was one of the most woke entertainment choices one could make. It’s rather disturbing how quickly a few of the scolds can get the social media rage mob moving even on a previously acceptable lefty target. Cancel culture comes at you fast.
Things began taking an interesting turn on the cancel culture front Tuesday when Harpers published a letter that found me agreeing which found me in agreement with lefties like Noam Chomsky and Vox.com’s Matt Yglesias.
On Tuesday, Harpers released a powerful open letter denouncing cancel culture and celebrating open debate. Even far-left anti-capitalist Noam Chomsky signed the letter.
“The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted,” the letter warns. “While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”
The signatories lament that “it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms.”
It’s Christmas in July! We’re going to have conversations and cancel culture is about to be canceled by people on the side of cancel culture! OK, I did feel super awkward about being on the same side as Chomsky — I kind of wanted a Silkwood shower — but, not to worry, the Kumbaya moment didn’t last long. No sooner had the news about the Harpers article begun to get a lot of attention than many of the enlightened co-signatories decided that some of the company were to icky for them to be associated with.
It’s spineless liberal cancel culture at its petulant nadir. The gist was that they were all on board when they thought it was just about a bunch of liberals posturing about tolerance and doing away with cancel culture. Once they found out they would have to actually encounter people who thought differently, the plan was off. These are bitter people who don’t encounter anyone outside of their homogeneous thought bubbles.
Cancel culture is here to stay for a while it would seem. And while I’m not always a fan of playing by their rules I think that the only way we can stop this nonsense is if we bring a little cancel culture to the cancel culture crowd. For now we will just have to revel in the glorious few hours when cancel culture came for itself.