I’d like to begin by thanking you for reading this piece about my new book, ‘Cancel Culture Dictionary.’ I have to admit I’m a bit embarrassed by the amount of press it’s getting on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and even Times Square billboards. That being said, if you saw my grades in high school, you’d understand why people are a little worked up about the idea of a guy like me becoming a published author. This is the literary equivalent of O.J. becoming a marriage counselor.
I kid, which was a thing we did with more regularity when I was growing up in Levittown, N.Y. in the 1980s. It was a simpler time when people just wanted their MTV and the only one who obsessed about using their phone was E.T. Although if that movie were made today, he wouldn’t phone home he’d probably text home and get back to fighting about politics with his fellow aliens on Twitter.
I mention social media because cancel culture wouldn’t be possible without it. Don’t get me wrong, we always had people who’d go after comedians like Dave Chappelle, but in the 80’s we didn’t call them ‘cancel culture’ we called them LOSERS.
Back then we all knew the difference between a joke and a hate crime and everyone rightfully treated comedy like a buffet: if you see a joke you like, you throw it on your tray. If you don’t like a joke, you simply ignore it and keep walking. There’s no need to hold up the line and argue with the chef because everyone gets their own tray. Besides, who the hell cares who laughs at what?
They’re just JOKES!
Unfortunately, people today are not only arguing with the chefs, they’re filming it and posting the confrontations online in hopes of scoring the digital dopamine we call likes.
Comedy, music and movies used to be places Americans could go to put their differences aside but we’ve lost that sense of escapism because everything you consume these days gets you trampled in a social justice stampede.
That’s cancel culture in a nutshell. A group of grievance hunters who police traditional sources of joy for potential offenses that will allow them to weaponize your outrage into their clout.
They’re cultural arsonists but the one thing every cancel has in common is that fact that once the outrage mob gets its way they move on without achieving any tangible progress for anyone but themselves.
When you go after superficial items like the Aunt Jemima syrup bottle it doesn’t improve the lives of anyone, least of all the black family who received 130 years of royalty checks because their relative portrayed Aunt Jemima. That’s right, Aunt Jemima was ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY. Same age as Mitch McConnell.
Sending the Pancake Lady off to that big breakfast nook in the sky hasn’t raised test scores at failing city schools and the only thing higher than the crime rates are the people who think woke bail reforms are working.
Prior to cancel culture nobody had an issue with Native American mascots because we all knew they weren’t being chosen to mock the culture but to celebrate it. After all, there’s a certain nobility to calling yourself a chief or a brave. And if you don’t believe me ask Elizabeth Warren.
Yet the Washington Redskins logo was canceled despite the fact that it was donated to the NFL as a ‘forever gift’ by a tribe that wanted the team to be called the Redskins. The logo was meant to symbolize the highest level of elite warriors chosen to paint their faces red and lead the tribe into battle.
You can still tell me you don’t like the Redskins name but you absolutely can’t tell me that changing the halftime show has lead to any improvements in the quality of life on Native American reservations.
And therein lies the biggest fault with cancel culture: it’s not activism, it’s slacktivism, that allows superficial victories to masquerade as societal progress.
Sadly, it’s crushed our ability to coexist politically by creating division in areas that used to provide us with common culture. Comedy, music and movies used to be places Americans could go to put their differences aside but we’ve lost that sense of escapism because everything you consume these days gets you trampled in a social justice stampede.
When I was a kid, my white parents yelled at me for eating too much ice cream. Today my Ben & Jerry’s ice cream yells at me for having WHITE PARENTS. I promise it was never supposed to work this way.
Long story short, cancel culture and the age of weaponized censorship has broken our compass and left us fighting all the wrong battles. But in writing this book I am not issuing a call to arms. If anything, it’s a call for everyone to chill out and ignore these grievance-grifting clowns. Now THAT, would be addition by subtraction.
Thanks for reading and if you like my book, PLEASE tell a friend. Of course, if you have any complaints whatsoever, please forward them to Greg Gutfeld.