Updated: Aug 24
I've never been a fan of cancel culture, even when I agreed with the ire toward the person and or thing that was being "cancelled". I knew at its onset that this scarlet letter mentality would prove problematic. It created a mob mentality that lacked reason, grace or nuance. It was void of mature discourse and seeked only to shame, blame and destroy, never to teach redeem or UNDERSTAND. Yes, somethings must be cast away, but how much more useful is a person who has been taught to do better, and goes forward and does just that. How much more effective is a misinformed mindset that has been enlightened with perspective, and now permeates the collective consciousness with empathy and understanding.
But alas we did not reign this growing monster of cancel culture in, and now it has become a bully that seeks to control society through fear, shame and intimidation. And while most cower against the threat of cancel cultures financial shake down, there is one who never will. And we are of like mind.
I have seen many heads recklessly put on the cancel culture chopping block, and as the ginned up outrage began to surround one of my favorite comics, Dave Chappelle, I settled down on my couch to check out his Netflix Special entitled, The Closer, to see what all of the fuss was about.
True to form, Dave made some off color jokes about Asians in reference to Coronavirus. He made some indecent jokes about pedophilia and Catholic priests. He made some reckless jokes about police brutality against black men. He said things that were ageist and crude, along with a few politically incorrect metaphors about the Jewish community. He said disparaging remarks about the Women’s Movement and some things that were down right misogynistic. He made some coarse comments about the transgender journey, along with some profoundly earnest statements about the LGBTQIA movement juxtaposed to the hundred-plus years that African Americans have been fighting for equity and humanity in a country we have built and died for. He mocked poor white people and he joked about the irony of his journey with a dear friend of his who is transgender. And to be perfectly honest….I ENJOYED EVERY SINGLE SIDE-BUSTING MINUTE OF IT!
I laughed hysterically as a proud member of 3 of the groups he joked about. And I did so….because it was funny as shit! There was NO hate to be found, only brash sardonic wit shared through a comedic lens. Dave blends irony and metaphor like no other, he is truly amongst the greatest comics to ever do it. His greatest asset being his fearlessness and his integrity. When you know you are listening to a satirist whose social commentary stems from sincere reflective thought and uncompromising veracity, you take off your seatbelt and go for the full ride. And in that, he did not disappoint.
Yet I find the fallout from his performance illustrates a peculiar irony in which we now find ourselves imprisoned. Out of all of the groups that Dave comically and mercilessly joked about (AND THERE WERE MANY), only one group decided to annihilate free speech over it. Only one group decided that they are above reproach and that not only are they never to be joked about but they can determine what we the public are able to view based on what they find funny. That doesn’t seem like a stand for equity to me. In fact it seems like something far different.
What is it called when a group of people attempt to dictate the production of art in an economy based solely on their likes and dislikes, and by extension determine the cultural norms and practices of a given society through means of fear and intimidation….or “cancellation”? What is the word for that? Because that’s what we’ve become. And not just in the curious case of this stand up comic and his art through prose but in SO MANY THINGS and in SO MANY WAYS. One wrong word and cancel Xmas baby…you’re outta there! Well…I’m sick of it. And I know I’m not alone.
Comedy is one of the few pure art forms left and I will not sit silently by and let it be corrupted by a “ruling class”.
You know what’s awesome about America…we got this cool thing called CHOICE. If you don’t like something you can choose not to shop there, eat that, or watch that. But what you can not do is take away MY CHOICE based on your inability to take a joke.
I RIDE WITH DAVE.