| Someone is wrong on|
“”It's capitalism, which conservatives love until backfires on them, then they call it cancel culture.
“”Old, powerful people often seem to be more upset by online criticism than they are by injustice.
“”Let’s look down the path and say where does this cancel culture lead us? You see the final expression of cancel culture in Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda who basically go and behead those who they deem to be infidels or heretics in order to silence them, in order to protect others from being misled by those heretical ideas in the eyes of ISIS or Al Qaeda…
|—Tulsi Gabbard showing us...perhaps one of the more creative uses of the term.|
Cancel culture is a term whose definition varies depending on who you ask. It's the logical conclusion of the wider callout culture. Cancel culture is a phenomenon where a influential or famous person gets criticized on the internet because of questionable actions. According to people on the political center-right and far-right, this is a legitimate and widespread phenomenon that poses a dire threat to free speech. When in reality this is a strawman promoted by people who hate being called out for perpetuating bigotry. Also, if you go through the history of celebrities and scandals, you'll soon realize that this basic concept is nothing new.
- 1 Alt-right cancel culture
- 2 "Cancelled" celebrities
- 3 Imagined or "real" infighting within the left
- 4 Among conservatives
- 5 "Cancel culture", business, and politics
- 6 "Cancel culture" and social media mobs
- 7 "Canceled" children's media
- 8 "Cancel culture" and comedy
- 9 Historical "cancelled" artists
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
Alt-right cancel culture
When the alt-right does the same, it never gets labeled as cancel culture. For example no one calls Gamergate an example of cancel culture, but when anyone else slightly criticizes the right, it gets labeled as "cancel culture" and "harassment" or even a "mob" (even if it's only 2 people). But when you flip the sides, the labels suddenly change, for example 4chan's brigading and harassment gets labeled "a joke", "humor", "just trolling" and sometimes "having an opinion", but it's never an "angry mob" when it should be. It only works one way because the term was made by the far-right. In fact, this term was first created on Fox News to defend Donald Trump. If a harasser uses dogwhistling, then criticisms against the harasser always get labelled as "out of context", when the alt-right label it that way they always try to explain what their "real" context is by giving twisted definitions. That way they can pretend like the left is wrong using the same strategies that they used during the anti-SJW era.
Over the year, some celebrities and powerful people has been cancelled and their careers ruined by the evil liberals... or so they say. In fact, "cancel culture" usually does not affect their careers whatsoever.
Imagined or "real" infighting within the left
The late left-wing author Mark Fisher, aka "K-Punk", is often touted by anti-PC leftists as a martyr for the criticism of cancel culture. This is because Fisher was allegedly harassed by so-called "SJWs", not long before his suicide.
Fisher is notable for having written the essay "Exiting The Vampire Castle", in which he chastised a large segment of the online left for its inability to peacefully disagree on certain issues. He argued that this segment of the left engaged in "excommunication" and harassment tactics over seemingly minor quibbles, blaming the phenomena (which, to be fair, was arguably more common at the time of his writing) on an alleged "bourgeois-liberal" undercurrent of pseudo-religious puritanism and "hipsterism" whose only need was to sustain only itself, and not the rest of the left — in other words, like a vampire:
The first configuration is what I came to call the Vampires’ Castle. The Vampires’ Castle specialises in propagating guilt. It is driven by a priest's desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in attacking the Vampires’ Castle is that it can look as if – and it will do everything it can to reinforce this thought – that one is also attacking the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism. But, far from being the only legitimate expression of such struggles, the Vampires’ Castle is best understood as a bourgeois-liberal perversion and appropriation of the energy of these movements.
Another example of an anti-PC martyr is
DINO self-described "lefty" Politico writer Fredrik DeBoer, who claimed to have been a victim of harassment on social media around the time he was criticizing cancel culture the most, which had gotten so bad that he became depressed. But unlike Fisher, this depression did not lead to suicide:
So how can someone object to an endorsement of free speech and open debate without being opposed to those things in and of themselves? You can’t. And people are objecting to it because social justice politics are plainly opposed to free speech. That is the most obvious political fact imaginable today. Of course Yelling Woke Twitter hates free speech! Of course social justice liberals would prevent expression they disagree with if they could! How could any honest person observe out political discourse for any length of time and come to any other conclusion?
You want to argue that free speech is bad, fine. You want to adopt a dominance politics that (you imagine) will result in you being the censor, fine. But just do that. Own that. Can we stop with this charade? Can we stop pretending? Can we just proceed by acknowledging what literally everyone quietly knows, which is that the dominant majority of progressive people simply don’t believe in the value of free speech anymore? Please. Let’s grow up and speak plainly, please. Let’s just grow up.
Nowadays cancel culture has essentially been co-opted by angry conservatives who realize that evangelical Christianity is moribund as a political force. (Gotta get those angry social conservatives to the polls somehow!) An example of this is the Republican National Convention choosing to highlight cancel culture in 2020, to the surprise of some commentators. Donald Trump himself often rants about cancel culture to rile up his base, but he frequently calls for people or companies to be canceled when they do something he doesn't like.
Following Trump's lead, in 2021, the GOP embraced "cancel culture" as a full-on political strategy. This political strategy was not new: it merely was an extension of previous tactics where liberals defending marginalized groups would be attacked using caricatures or other straw man type arguments. In particular, the strategy is rather reminiscent of attacks on "political correctness" since the late 1980s. The strategy, which gave outrage oriented conservative networks like Fox News fresh new material to be angry about, also simultaneously provided a distraction from the right-wing extremism found in then-recent events like the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot.
The irony of the GOP political emphasis on "cancel culture" was demonstrated at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) political conference (theme: "America Uncanceled"). During the conference, Donald Trump read the list of names of Republicans who supported his second impeachment, and called for them to be
cancelled "ousted". A right-wing social media commentator named "Young Pharaoh", who had previously been cancelled from YouTube for spreading anti-vaccination bullshit and other conspiracies, was also (surprisingly) cancelled from the convention after he (unsurprisingly) made some rather distasteful anti-Semitic tweets.
"Cancel culture" has become a weaponized term on the American political right, to the point where this term often is being used as a snarl world in nonsensical rants completely unrelated to the concept. In reality, cancel culture cuts many ways.
"Cancel culture", business, and politics
Claims of "cancel culture" often come from boycotts, firings, and other actions stemming from controversial events that connect a corporate brand or a celebrity figure to political issues. Calls for boycotts from these type of events are nothing new. The initial impetus for a boycott comes from all ends of the political spectrum. It is hypocrisy to say otherwise.
In America, for instance, some conservatives are quick to cry out "cancel culture" at boycotts and firings aligned with the politics of the American left. Examples here include Goya Foods (boycotted by some Latinos when CEO Robert Unanue praised Donald Trump), Gina Carano (who was fired from her role in The Mandalorian for comparing being a Republican to being Jewish during the Holocaust), and MyPillow (who was dropped by many retail outlets not wanting to prop up CEO Mike Lindell's delusionary support of Trump's bullshit electoral fraud claims). Some conservatives, however, have been also happy to demand "cancellation" when companies do something that goes against the politics of the American right. Examples include Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, and Delta Airlines (when all three corporations criticized GOP efforts to restrict voting, particularly in Georgia, where Coca-Cola and Delta were headquartered), Gillette (who created an advertisement that had the audacity to say that sexual harassment and bullying are not okay), Target Corporation (who created a trans-inclusive restroom policy) and Keurig (who cancelled their advertisements for Sean Hannity over supporting alleged pedophile Roy Moore, prompting calls for a boycott among conservatives, along with a social media "Keurig Smash Challenge" where people posted videos where they destroyed their rather expensive coffee makers).
Nike, Inc. is a good example of a company where American conservatives repeatedly have called for "cancellation". In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick generated a large amount of controversy when, protesting police brutality against African Americans and other minorities, he refused to stand for the national anthem that was played at all NFL pre-game ceremonies. [note 1] In 2018, Nike created an advertisement using Kaepernick as part of their "Just Do It" campaign. This triggered calls for boycotts from some of those who were outraged by Kaepernick's protest, with a few people actually posting videos online of them destroying Nike products they owned. In July 2019, additional conservatives threatened to cancel Nike for cancelling (partially in response to advice from Kaepernick) a shoe design with the Betsy Ross flag on it — a symbol that, while not universally recognized as hateful, has unfortunately been co-opted by some white supremacists.
Despite the repeated cancellation calls, Nike's business has not been hurt... in fact, the moves were widely seen as positive for the company. While on occasion CEOs have accidentally walked into controversy, sometimes the controversial stance is deliberate. Businesses have brand identities and public images. If the controversial political issue reflects the values and the goals of the business, a CEO may choose to make a political stance, as saying nothing may actually do the brand harm. As long as the alignment is seen as sincere and not as bandwagon jumping, businesses may see a "cancellation" backlash as an acceptable risk in order to convey a political point that enhances the brand's identity (and might, subsequently, enhance sales).
This brand tactic also applies in the opposite political direction. In 2012, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy denounced same-sex marriage and maintained policies of contributing donations to
anti-gay "pro-family" charity groups. This triggered calls for boycotts (that would probably be called "cancel culture" if it happened today) from progressives, to the point where a few mayors of major cities denounced the restaurant chain with toothless "ban" threats. However, this also triggered a call from Mike Huckabee for a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" to "affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles". As Cathy's evangelical Christianity (which has long been associated with anti-gay politics) is a part of Chick-fil-A's brand identity, it is not surprising that Huckabee's request, when realized, led to "record-setting" sales that day. Conversely, Chick-fil-A also shows how tying a company closely to any political mob can produce unexpected negative social media attention if actions are taken that accidentally insult the mob paradigm. In November 2019, Chick-fil-A attempted to simplify their corporate philanthropy, which meant that in the process, some of the controversial "pro-family" charities that triggered the original uproar were removed from their donation list. This triggered conservatives into social media outrage, prompting an emergency call from Franklin Graham to Cathy to confirm that the chain remained "committed to Christian values".
In 2021 the skateboard equipment company Independent Truck Company was forced to change their logo from the Cross pattée variation derived from Pope John Paul II's vestments as seen on a Time Magazine cover to a different design without the cross in question, due to pressure from some groups who apparently saw the logo as having "Nazi" connotations, likely due to the stigma from its use by biker gangs and white supremacist groups, even though the Iron Cross has never been banned in Germany unlike the swastika and other iconography created and/or appropriated by the Nazi Party, and is still used by the Bundeswehr to this day.
There is nothing new with mobs pressuring media outlets to "cancel" various media they find offensive. What is notably different in the modern era is how social media allows mobs to easier weaponize opinion with much faster velocity. Social media also provides a permanence to past online conversations, and allows them to be easily searched. This has raised concerns among some entertainers and media authors that social media outrage may stifle expression and the freedom of ideas.
JK Rowling perhaps provides one of the more notable examples of the mob in action. In mid-December 2019, Rowling tweeted support from Maya Forstater, who's contract for a British think tank was chosen to not be renewed after she made several transphobic statements on Twitter. Rowling doubled down on her transphobic statements in 2020, despite facing considerable criticism. This unsavory opinion triggered a predictably unsavory response on social media: her stance subjected Rowling to death and rape threats, a TikTok trend where Harry Potter books were burned, and general abusive messages online.
Rowling was one of several signatories (which also included pundits like David Frum and sincere free-speech absolutists like Noam Chomsky and Margaret Atwood) on a letter published in Harpers magazine on July 7, 2020, expressing concern that "cancel culture" (in particular, the "swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought") was creating "greater risk aversion" and a "stifling atmosphere" for media. This letter regarding open debate itself stimulated open debate, with some regarding the signatories as hypocritical elites, some seeing the letter as a sinister attempt to push back against social justice [note 2] and some others agreeing that the illiberal tendencies of social media cancel culture mobs were counter-productive.
The ephemeral and combative tit-for-tat, tribal nature of social media cancel culture mobs was neatly illustrated in 2018. Roseanne Barr had just started working on a 2018 reboot of her late 1980s comedy show Roseanne. The show was cancelled in late May 2018 after Barr, known for her bizarre conspiracy oriented tweets, made a racist tweet about Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, bizarrely comparing her to if the "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby". Director James Gunn, then working on the Disney film Guardians of the Galaxy 3, tweeted support for the firing, stating that "Roseanne is allowed to say whatever she wants. It doesn’t mean @ABCNetwork needs to continue funding her TV show if her words are considered abhorrent." Meanwhile, alt-right troll Mike Cernovich was running campaigns targeting Donald Trump opponents by searching for old offensive tweets and publicizing them. Cernovich searched Gunn's old tweets and discovered some tasteless jokes regarding rape and paedophilia, as well as transphobic language, made when Gunn was working for the notoriously sophomoric horror film company Troma Entertainment. The tweets were enough to get Gunn temporarily fired from Disney in late July 2018. Naturally, many people still expressed support for Gunn in spite of the old tweets; Barr, of course, expressed disgust at the people supporting Gunn.
One issue with stories on "cancel culture" and social media mob opinion is that the headlines tend to be about major celebrities that get caught in the mob. Social media mobs may be vicious, but the damage they do to major celebrities typically is small. A paradox of cancel culture is that typically, one only ever hears about it from those unlikely to be harmed for it. Indeed, the loudest voices speaking up against cancel culture tend to be contrarians and trolls who actually profit from outrage. Social media mobs tend to have a far heavier impact on a person's life for ordinary people that find themselves in a viral video which generates mob-driven outrage. Merely having a troll post a picture of you on Twitter flashing the "okay" hand gesture (a symbol that 4Chan has weaponized as a deliberately ambiguous dogwhistle) might get you fired from your job.
Some people believe that it is less "cancel culture" that is a problem, but social media itself, implying that the only thing that the cancel culture debate proved is that "the time has come to cancel" the worst mob mentality offenders like Twitter.
"Canceled" children's media
Historically, media that has been marketed to children has been subject to greater scrutiny over removing outdated racial stereotypes, sometimes to the point of "cancellation", in part because many feel that children are less able to contextualize the stereotypes and recognize them as a historical artifact. Films like Disney's 1946 movie Song of the South, which were protested by the NAACP as whitewashing the pre-civil war South from the beginning, haven't seen a general re-release since 1986, and have never been released on home video. Cartoons created for adult audiences between 1941 and 1960, such as the Looney Tunes cartoon series by Warner Brothers, started to be marketed as children's programming in the 1970s. Even then, the shorts were edited for content (often haphazardly, without consultation of the cartoon directors), removing violent scenes, scenes of characters smoking, and racially offensive stereotypes. In some cases, certain cartoons were taken entirely out of circulation altogether. The fact that the media was marketed for children was a huge factor regarding the alterations and cancellations. In media marketed for adults, such as DVD collections of the cartoons, many of the "cancelled" and altered cartoons were included, intact, with a disclaimer noting that the cartoon contained outdated racial stereotypes.
In 2021, this evaluation of outdated stereotypes in older media marketed to children was often labeled "cancel culture". A prominent example of this came when the estate of Dr. Seuss decided to stop publishing six of its books due to racist imagery. (It helped that most of the books were among Seuss's least known works.) This caused howls of outrage among reactionary networks like Fox News, who were in desperate need of fresh content with Donald Trump out of office. Other outrages in early 2021 included outrage over Mr. Potato Head branding,[note 3] outrage over Disney+ putting disclaimers before certain Muppet Show episodes, and outrage that Pepe Le Pew wasn't included in the Space Jam 2 movie. [note 4] Inspired by the Dr. Seuss outrage, a Pennsylvania Republican state legislator even introduced a bill called the "GRINCH Act", which would forbid state and local government agencies from receiving funding if they ban books.
Ironically, typically in the past, book bans and challenges historically have come from moral concerns, frequently driven by topics offensive to evangelicals. In 2019, according to the American Library Association's (ALA) list of most frequently banned and challenged books, 8 of the top 10 books that people attempted to "cancel" that year addressed transgender and LGBTQ issues. Before JK Rowling faced a backlash for her transphobic tweets, Rowling's Harry Potter series was more noted for multiple "cancellation" attempts from religious groups over concerns of the series being a gateway to witchcraft and the occult. According to the ALA, the Harry Potter series was the most challenged book from 2000 to 2005. One church pastor in New Mexico (who admitted that he had never read any of the Harry Potter novels) even organized a book burning in 2002 where Harry Potter was the focal point. Additionally, a lot of recent book bans are due to the right-wing hysteria regarding LGBTQ people and "critical race theory".
"Cancel culture" and comedy
Comedy in particular has been subject to many musings on the role "cancel culture" might be playing in it. Comedy is a complex social phenomenon, and can range from "humor" that is all about mocking the weak and exerting superiority (including humor that promotes nasty stereotypes), to humor that is a form of psychological coping that attempts to process painful situations (which is why "gallow's humor" can arise from dark or tragic events), to humor (particularly satire) that is designed to break social taboos or hold those in power to account. Many comedians, from George Carlin to Jon Stewart, inserted heavy amounts of politics and/or social commentary into their stand-up routines or programs.
Historically, older comedy circles (such as the vaudeville tradition), while more open to women, Jews, blacks, and other marginalized groups than many other professions, was also far more littered with broad ethnic stereotypes than the present. As time has progressed, these ethnic stereotypes have become less acceptable in society. Because (as demonstrated above) societal values can change over time, this can lead to situations where perfectly acceptable humor in the past can become unacceptable to modern audiences. A prominent example of this phenomenon occurred in the animated television sitcom The Simpsons, due to the longevity of the show (the show premiered on December 17, 1989 and is still running as of 2022). In the mid to late 2010s, one character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, was criticized for being an offensive negative Indian-American stereotype, with the stereotypical accent of the character (voiced by Caucasian voice actor (Hank Azaria) in particular being noted as offensive. These criticisms were not present during the beginning of the show's run, but appeared later due to changing cultural sensibilities.
In addition, there is a long tradition of comedy designed in part to be offensive. This type of comedy ranges from the critically acclaimed lowbrow social commentary (with fart jokes) in a film like Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, to the not-so-critically acclaimed lowbrow, kinda sexist Brooklyn-Italian stereotype Andrew Dice Clay used in his comedy routines in the 1990s. An entire genre called insult comedy exists that entirely revolves around the comedian heckling other people, or even the audience in an often offensive manner.
With theoretically no room for error due to social media mobs, some comedians believe that "cancel culture" will kill comedy, due to audiences being overly sensitive to "edgy" jokes. The theory is this will result in public shaming, or comedians self-censoring in fear of public shame. This was the viewpoint of comedians such as John Cleese, Jason Manford, and Dawn French. Other comedians, such as Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, said that they avoid college gigs due to students being "so PC". A few comedians complained that previous material they worked on would never have been made today due to cancel culture (such as Ricky Gervais, who suggested this was the case for The Office). Of course, a few comedians, such as Bill Maher, used "cancel culture" as an excuse to continue their descent into becoming that classic Simpsons caricature of an old man yelling at clouds.
Some comedians indeed have suffered employment consequences due to previous jokes that got dug up and criticized for being racist or otherwise being overly offensive. Shane Gillis was fired from Saturday Night Live over previous slurs deemed offensive to Asians and the LGBTQ community. Graham Linehan was cancelled from Twitter for transphobic remarks. According to Sarah Silverman, she was once fired from a film after producers unearthed a still of her in 2007 wearing blackface (a sketch she, at present, regrets.) Kevin Hart was fired from a job hosting the 91st Academy Awards due to some homophobic tweets discovered following the Oscars announcement.
In some cases, of course, comedians get "cancelled" not due to offensive remarks, but due to offensive behaviors. A primary example of a comedian cancelled for bad behavior is Louis C.K., who was canceled widely both on social media and real life in 2017 for being accused by seven women of sexual misconduct. It honestly is hard to see how the lack of a "cancel culture" would stop a comedian from suffering a severe career pushback if he or she decided to engage in an inappropriate masturbation act, as Louis C.K. allegedly did. (Just ask Pee Wee Herman.)
At any rate, being "cancelled" has not harmed any comedian's career in the long run. Louis CK returned to comedy in 2019 for a surprise performance at Skankfest, and received a standing ovation. In 2020, Louis C.K. was back to selling out theaters.
Not everyone agrees with the sentiment that a "cancel culture" is ruining comedy. Rowan Atkinson preferred to blame social media platforms themselves instead of woke college kids, saying that the algorithms they used pushed "a simplistic, binary view of society" that created the "digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn". Australian comic Adam Hills scoffed at the notion of "cancel culture", saying "it's not necessarily (the audience's) fault" if they are offended by a comic's material, urging comedians to "act like grown ups" and "be more responsible". Comedy writer Mike Schur went further and complained that comedians whining about cancel culture were "lazy" and "just want(ed) to keep using the N-word or whatever in your act", telling them to "quit and get a job at a grocery store or something". Cancel culture certainly hasn't stopped films like Borat 2 by comedian / prankster Sacha Baron Cohen, which utilized stereotypes in the humor, but critically focused on "punching up" instead of "down" (eg, focusing the most vicious satire on those who wield power.
Some comedians have apologized for older material that may not have seemed offensive at the time, but seem offensive by today's standards. In March 25, 2021, Jay Leno apologized for previous jokes he made on The Tonight Show that could be considered anti-Asian by today's standards. After initially brushing the criticisms off with a lackluster defence, in January 2020, Azaria agreed to no longer voice the character of Apu on The Simpsons. In April 2021, Azaria apologized to the Indian-American community for his depiction. 
And of course, there are parallels to the past. In Britain, prior to the early 1980s, racist and sexist humor was a staple of "working class" British comedians such as Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson. This humor was challenged in the 1980s by the "alternative comedy" scene, which (influenced by previous surrealist outsider comedy like Monty Python, and in symbiosis with the punk rock movement at the time) created a more anarchic and subversive forms of humor, with much less reliance on racist, sexist, and homophobic gags. Comedians from this new school of comedy were much more successful internationally, with Absolutely Fabulous in particular becoming one of the top global draws of the BBC. While not quite the same, it has been noted by some authors that many of the comedians who complain about "cancel culture" tend to be older comedians, and some of the complaining may be merely comedians that cling to stale routines, instead of developing fresh and funny material more aligned with current society. Just because younger people may be more sensitive to certain stereotype oriented jokes and have access to social media doesn't necessarily mean that comedy is dead. It just might mean that comedy might change a little, and as the alternative British comics showed, not necessarily for the worse.
Historical "cancelled" artists
Interestingly enough, historically in the United States, evil liberals and politically correct speech were not the primary driving force behind many major artist boycotts and blacklists. In the past, the majority of "cancellations" concerned morality or political issues. Notable artists who were historically "cancelled" include:
- Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Falsely accused of murder and acquitted when tried, Arbuckle nonetheless was subject to a famous smear campaign in 1921 from William Randolph Hearst's tabloids, whose lurid tales about the event (created to exploit growing concerns about immorality in Hollywood) permanently damaged Arbuckle's reputation. Despite the acquittal, Will Hays, whom the motion picture industry hired to help improve Hollywood's moral image, refused to allow Arbuckle to work for the industry again.
- The Beatles. In March 1966, John Lennon made an offhand remark concerning the decline of Christianity in Britain to the London Evening Standard. (In Britain, Lennon's native country, the rate of secularization in the 1960s was higher than all the preceding four centuries put together). This offhand remark included the statement "we're more popular than Jesus now". This relatively unimportant quote lay dormant for months until, republished in America, it attracted the attention of Tommy Charles, a proto-shock DJ in Birmingham, who aired the quote. Reprinted by the UPI, fundamentalist Christians in the Deep South were outraged. Several stations banned the Beatles' music; many Beatles records were smashed by outraged Americans. The Ku Klux Klan even got involved, nailing several Beatles albums to a cross and setting it aflame. Protests (including violent threats from the Ku Klux Klan and others) followed their US tour that year. The tour disheartened the Beatles enough to never tour again, and the anger that the quote generated contributed to the assassination of Lennon in 1980 by a born-again Christian, Mark David Chapman.
- Sinead O'Connor. In 1990, O'Connor had a massive hit in the United States with the song "Nothing Compares 2 U". Two years later in 1992, O'Connor stunned the world by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live, shouting "fight the real enemy". This led to reactions ranging from confusion regarding the purpose to anger, hostility, and calls for a ban. The incident effectively ended her career in America. Even at a Bob Dylan concert
(where people should have known better)shortly after the incident, O'Connor was booed off the stage and had to be consoled by Kris Kristofferson backstage. Missed by the American public at the time, O'Connor was protesting the child sexual abuse rampant in the Catholic church, a topic not widely known to the American public at the time, but something O'Connor had personal experience with in her youth.
- The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks). Popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s — in 2003, they were the top selling female group of all time. During a promotional show in Europe in 2003, singer Natalie Maines took a minute to address the crowd. Sympathetic with anti-war protesters regarding the invasion of Iraq that year, Maines remarked that they were "ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." American country music fans, used to groups that toed the Republican party political line, responded to this quote by boycotting the Chicks' shows, bulldozing their CDs, banning their songs from country radio, and even threatening the Chicks with violence. Effectively blacklisted from the Nashville scene, the Chicks made one defiant rebuttal album in 2006 before disappearing from the pop music industry for 14 years.
"Cancelled" by the US government
Arguably, the worst "cancel" culture in United States history happened during the era of the Red Scare. The "cancellations" began in 1947 when a government committee called the House Un-American Activities Committee held nine days of hearings into alleged communist propaganda in the movie industry. Ten individuals known as the "Hollywood Ten" refused to answer questions about their alleged involvement with the Communist party. All ten were immediately blacklisted. Most were never again employed in Hollywood. The Hollywood blacklist, as it became known, eventually included more than 300 artists, writers, and technicians. Even merely working with the artist before they were blacklisted was enough to diminish a chance of finding employment. Many others exiled from the industry were forced to move to Europe, and continued either working for European studios or secretly writing scripts under pseudonyms.
The blacklist impacted several major artists. Probably the most notable artist blacklisted was Charlie Chaplin, whose "Tramp" films were extremely popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Concerns grew in the 1940s over his supposed communist sympathies (Chaplin denied being a communist, but protested against censorship efforts like the HUAC). A British citizen, Chaplin's re-entry permit to the US was revoked in 1952 while he was on an overseas trip; his 1952 film Limelight was subject to boycotts in the United States, and TV stations cancelled programming containing Chaplin shorts. Chaplin never returned to the United States, other than in 1972 to accept a special Lifetime Oscar. Other notable artists affected by the blacklist included screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter Dorothy Parker, and singer and actress Lena Horne.
The blacklist didn't just limit itself to the movie industry; folk singers, who were often affiliated with the political left, were also a major target. The Weavers, whose members did have some sympathies with the Communist Party, were forced to disband in 1952, unable to deal with increasing protests and hate mail that accompanied their concerts in the anti-communist 1950s. In 1957, Weavers musician Pete Seeger refused to answer questions at a HUAC session, leading to a contempt of court conviction. His left-wing views blacklisted him from appearing on television, beginning in the 1950s, all the way up to his famous controversial appearances in 1967 on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
- No platform
- Online shaming
- SJW — A similar concept, which alternates between being right-wing snarl word or a legitimate problem depending on the context.
- Fueled by Donald Trump jingoism, this event triggered not only calls for a boycott from people who were angry that a football player was "disrespecting the flag", but also triggered calls for a boycott from the other side of the political fence, due to some believing that the NFL treated Kaepernick poorly.
- Never mind that the head authors were inspired examples like NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who was fired for
kneeling while being blackkneeling during the national anthem before NFL games. Of course, the authors of the letter were also inspired by examples like David Shor, who merely posted a statistical analysis online that found nonviolent demonstrations were more effective than riots at changing public opinion. Somehow, this offended the social media mob to the point where he got fired from his job.
- Hasbro re-branded "Mr. Potato Head" as "Potato Head" in late February 2021. The rebranding was meant to emphasize a new "Potato Head Family" product that included a new baby potato head alongside the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head products then currently available. Hasbro however confusingly over-emphasized the "gender neutral" aspect of the brand at first, causing howls of outrage among right-wing trolls.
- Note that Pepe Le Pew was originally a caricature; he was based on the title character from the 1930s film Pépé le Moko, whose seduction methods (like many movie characters of this era) were somewhere between sexual harassment and outright sexual assault. According to animation legend Chuck Jones, he was also a parody of a colleague at Looney Tunes named Tedd Pierce, who "could not really believe that any woman could honestly refuse his honestly stated need for her." The humor came from Penelope Pussycat (and anyone else) finding the smelly French rapist repulsive.
- Obama’s Very Boomer View of ‘Cancel Culture’
- Tulsi Gabbard compares cancel culture to ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Fox News interview
- Reminder: SJWs drove Mark Fisher to suicide.
- Exiting the Vampire Castle
- Progressives Against Free Speech
- CPAC Takeaways: Trump Dominates, and DeSantis and Noem Stand Out
- The Real Reason Republicans Are Talking About “Cancel Culture”, Refinery 29
- A list of people and things Donald Trump tried to get canceled before he railed against 'cancel culture', CNN Politics
- "When Republicans Attack 'Cancel Culture,' What Does It Mean?" by Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR, 2021 February 10
- "Fox News is betting big on the 'cancel culture' wars post-Trump" by Jake Lahut, Business Insider, 2021 April 6
- "Why Attacking ‘Cancel Culture’ And ‘Woke’ People Is Becoming The GOP’s New Political Strategy" by Perry Bacon Jr., Fivethirtyeight.com, 2021 March 17
- "Why the GOP's cancel culture pitch is good politics" by Harry Enten, CNN, 2021 March 13
- "Trump’s Republican Hit List at CPAC Is a Warning Shot to His Party" by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, New York Times, 2021 February 28
- MARSHALL DANIELS, also known as Young Pharaoh, an individual, Plaintiff, vs. ALPHABET, INC., a Delaware corporation; GOOGLE, LLC., a Delaware limited liability company; YOUTUBE LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, complaint, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, filed 2020 July 14
- "CPAC cancels speaker over anti-Semitic social media comments" by Eric Bradner, CNN, 2021 February 23
- "Cancel culture comes for the cops" by Washington Examiner, 2-21 April 23
- "Latinos boycotting Goya say it's not about politics. It's about standing against Trump's 'hate'" by Raul A. Reyes, NBC News, 2020 July 18
- "'The Mandalorian' Star Gina Carano Fired Amid Social Media Controversy" by Ryan Parker and Aaron Couch, Hollywood Reporter, 2021 February 10
- "MyPillow CEO says activists pressuring stores to drop product are trying to 'cancel me'" by John Bowden, TheHill.com, 2021 January 19
- "The New Cancel Culture Capitalism" by Lisa Lerer, New York Times, 2021 April 10
- "Out-of-Control Republican Cancel Culture Has Now Come for Coca-Cola" by Paul Blest, Vice, 2021 April 5
- "Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'" by Michael Baggs, BBC, 2019 January 15
- "Right-Wing Protest of Target's Trans Bathroom Policy Is a 'Bust'" by Nico Lang, Advocate, 2016 June 7
- "People Are Smashing Their Keurig Coffee Makers And Posting The Evidence In Protest" by Remy Smidt, Buzzfeed News, 2017 November 12
- "Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem" by Steve Wyche, NFL.com, 2016 August 27
- "Roger Goodell responds to Trump’s call to ‘fire’ NFL players protesting during national anthem" by Jeremy Gottlieb and Mark Maske, Washington Post, 2017 September 23
- "The NFL is being squeezed by boycotts from both sides over anthem protests" by Jesse Washington, Undefeated, 2017 September 13
- "Why the social media boycott over Colin Kaepernick is a win for Nike" by Alex Abad-Santos, Vox, 2018 September 6
- "Does America’s first flag symbolize ‘exclusion and hate,’ as this Mich. school superintendent said?" by Fred Barbash, Washington Post, 2016 September 15
- "Conservatives Threaten Nike Boycott Over ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Flap" by Lisette Voytko, Forbes, 2019 July 3
- "Why Is Everyone So Upset About the Betsy Ross Flag?" by EJ Dickson, Rolling Stone, 2019 July 2
- "Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad sparked a boycott — and earned $6 billion for Nike" by Alex Abd-Santos, Vox, 2018 September 24
- "Companies Can’t Avoid Politics — and Shouldn’t Try To" by Daniel Korschun and N. Craig Smith, Harvard Business Review, 2018 March 07
- "How brands can respond to cancel culture in 2021" by Nadia Cameron, CMO from IDG, 2021 January 20
- "SF Mayor Tells Chick-fil-A They're Not Welcome" by Andrea Grimes, Eater, 2012 July 27
- "Chick-fil-A wades into a fast-food fight over same-sex marriage rights" by Sarah Aarthun, CNN, 2012 Juy 28
- "Chick-fil-A’s many controversies, explained" by Gaby Del Valle, Vox, 2019 November 19
- "Anti-Gay Politics and the Religious Right", People For the American Way Foundation, August 2002
- "Chick-fil-A: Selling Chicken With a Side of God" by Emma Green, Atlantic, 2014 September 8
- "Chick-fil-A Has 'Record-Setting' Sales on Appreciation Day" by Amy Bingham, ABC News, 2012 August 2
- "'Chick-fil-A remains committed to Christian values,' Franklin Graham says after call to CEO Dan Cathy" by Samuel Smith, Christian Post, 2019 November 21
- "Chick-fil-A faces rightwing backlash after cutting ties to Christian groups" by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 2019 November 30
- Independent Thought
- Independent Trucks Logo Change
- "How Twitter and Facebook are weaponizing mob mentality" by Edward Morrissey, The Week, 2018 July 31
- "J.K. Rowling Comes Out As A TERF" by Dawn Ennis, Forbes, 2019 December 19
- "J.K. Rowling doubles down in what some critics call a 'transphobic manifesto'" by Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, 2020 June 10
- "Author J.K. Rowling has received 'death and rape threats' for transgender rights comments", World Entertainment News Network, Canoe.com
- "J.K. Rowling Book Burning Videos Are Spreading Like Wildfire Across TikTok" by Emma Nolan, Newsweek, 2020 September 16
- "The Dishonest and Misogynistic Hate Campaign Against J.K. Rowling" by Louise Perry, Quillette, 2020 September 18
- "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate", Harper's Magazine, 2020 July 7
- "David Shor's Unified Theory of American Politics by Eric Levitz, NYMag, 2020 July 17
- "A Debate About Open Debate" by Spencer Bokat-Lindell, New York Times, 2020 July 16
- "The Harper’s ‘Letter,’ cancel culture and the summer that drove a lot of smart people mad" by Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi, Washington Post, 2020 July 23
- "Roseanne Barr’s Tweets Didn’t Come Out of Nowhere" by Sopan Deb, New York Times, 2018 May 27
- "After Racist Tweet, Roseanne Barr’s Show Is Canceled by ABC" by John Koblin, New York Times, 2018 May 29
- "I wish some of these so-called defenders of liberty would start to understand what freedom of speech is AND isn’t. Roseanne is allowed to say whatever she wants. It doesn’t mean @ABCNetwork needs to continue funding her TV show if her words are considered abhorrent.", @JamesGunn, Twitter, 29 May 2018, archived by archive.is on 2018 July 20
- "How Marvel film director James Gunn was demonised by the alt-right" by Seb Patrick, Guardian, 2018 August 1
- "The Far Right’s Pedophilia Smear Campaign Is Working" by Christina Cauterucci, Slate, 2018 July 25
- "How the alt-right are resurfacing old tweets to get Trump's critics fired" by Sam Wolfson, Guardian, 2018 July 25
- "James Gunn rehired to direct ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’" by Jake Coyle, AP News, 2019 March 15
- "Roseanne Barr "Disgusted" by Support for James Gunn" by Evan Real, Hollywood Reporter, 2018 July 24
- "Cancel culture is a real problem. But not for the people warning about it." by Phoebe Maltz Bovy, Washington Post, 2020 July 9
- "How "cancel culture" changed these three lives forever", CBS News, 2020 August 13
- "Stop Firing the Innocent" by Yascha Mounk, Atlantic, 2020 June 27
- "If the ‘cancel culture’ debate proved anything, it’s that the time has come to cancel Twitter" by Mark Beaumont, NME, 2020 July 13
- "Movie Answer Man (02/13/2000)", RogerEbert.com, 2000 Februrary 13
- "Song of the South: the difficult legacy of Disney's most shocking movie" by Scott Tobias, Guardian, 2019 November 19
- "Ideas & Trends; Rascal or Racist? Censoring a Rabbit" by John Leland, New York Times, June 3, 2001
- See the Wikipedia article on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3
- "Fox News Pivots to Dr. Seuss in Desperate Hunt for Post-Trump Content" by Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone, 2021 March 2
- "How Dr. Seuss Responded to Critics Who Called Out His Racism" by Rebecca Onion, Slate, 2021 March 3
- "Create Your Potato Head Family launching this fall", Hasbro newsroom, 2021 February 25
- "Mr. Potato Head Is Now Gender Neutral and Right-Wing Trolls Are Losing It" by EJ Dickson, Rolling Stone, 2021 February 25
- "The Real Case of Censorship That Proves ‘Cancel Culture’ Outrage Is Bullshit" by David S. Cohen, Rolling Stone, 2021 March 6
- "Fox host Maria Bartiromo can't get guest to agree that Pepé Le Pew is the latest victim of cancel culture gone 'overboard'" by John Haltiwanger, Business Insider, 2021 March 9
- "Pepe Le Pew not looking so romantic any more" by Hugh Linehan, Irish Times, 2021 March 13
- "Pa. Congressman Joyce introduces 'GRINCH' bill to stop 'cancel culture' of kids books", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2021 March 26
- "Latest banned books list topped by works delving into gender identity, LGBTQ issues" by Deb Erdley, Trib Live, 2020 October 1
- "Top 10 Most Challenged Books List of 2019", American Library Association
- "I didn’t read Harry Potter when I was growing up. And I wasn’t alone." by Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, 2018 September 1
- "Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st Century", American Library Association press release, 2006 September 21
- "Harry Potter and the sermon of fire" by Sarah Hall, Guardian, 2002 Jan 1
- Anti-Critical Race Theory Laws to Ban Children’s Literature, ADL 12 October 2021
- "How comedy makes us better people" by Mary O'Hara, BBC Future, 2016 August 30
- "Professor explores American culture through comedy's history", press release, Penn State News, 2021 April 26
- "‘Simpsons’ Creator Matt Groening Says Debate Around Apu Is ‘Tainted’" by Dave Itzkoff, New York Times, 2018 July 18
- "The Simpsons’ Apu Response Is What Happens When You’re on the Air for Too Long" by Jen Chaney, Vulture, 2018 April 9
- "Review: Blazing Saddles", Roger Ebert, 1974 February 7
- "The Devil and Andrew Clay" by David Mills, Washington Post, 1990 July 22
- "Comedy in the age of outrage: When jokes go too far" by Nicholas Barber, BBC, 2015 August 4
- "Cancel culture takes the fun out of life, says comedian John Cleese" by Rollo Ross, Reuters, 2020 July 21
- "Jason Manford: Cancelling offensive comedy is 'slippery slope', BBC, 2020 November 11
- "Dawn French: cancel culture kills comedy" by David Sanderson, The Times, 2020 October 12
- "Jerry Seinfeld says comedians avoid college gigs, students are 'so PC'" by Michael Schramm, USA Today, 2015 Jun 8
- "Ricky Gervais says ‘cancel culture’ has made people “lose their sense of irony”" by Charlotte Krol, NME.com, 2020 July 10
- "Bill Maher: Cancel Culture is Destroying America", TMZ.com, 2021 Februrary 27
- "It's official: Bill Maher is now Old Man Yelling At Clouds" by Gardnerhill, Daily Kos community, 2018 February 10
- "Shane Gillis no longer joining SNL cast after outcry over racist language" by Elahe Izadi and Bethoine Butler, Washington Post, 2019 September 16
- Graham Linehan accused of using House of Lords as ‘court of appeal’ to overturn his Twitter ban, Pink News, 9 March 2021
- "Sarah Silverman: I was fired from film after blackface photo resurfaced" by Catherine Shoard, The Guardian, 2019 August 12
- "How Kevin Hart tweeted himself out of a job hosting the Oscars" by Casey Newton, The Verge, 2018 December 8
- "Louis C.K. Is Accused by 5 Women of Sexual Misconduct" By Melena Ryzik, Cara Buckley and Jodi Kantor, New York Times, 2017 November 9
- "Louis CK cancelled by everyone" by Gabrielle Bluestone, Vice, 2017 November 10
- "Pee-Wee's Nightmare" by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 1991 July 31
- Louis C.K. Receives Standing Ovation For Surprise Performance at SkankFest 2019
- "Louis C.K.’s sexual misconduct tanked his career. Now he’s selling out theaters." by Elahe Izadi, Washington Post, 2020 March 11
- "Rowan Atkinson Says Cancel Culture “Like Medieval Mob Looking For Someone To Burn”; Hints At ‘Blackadder’ Revival" by Jake Kanterm, Deadline, 2021 January 5
- "Comedian Adam Hills defends cancel culture and urges comics to ‘be more responsible’", News Chant, 2021 April 8
- "TV extraordinaire Mike Schur on whingers who complain about ‘political correctness’ and ‘cancel culture’" by Wenlei Ma, News.com.au, 2021 April 23
- "Borat 2: Sacha Baron Cohen survived ‘cancel culture’ by evolving instead of moaning" by Adam White, Independent, 2020 October 23
- "Jay Leno Apologizes for Years of Anti-Asian Jokes" by Daniel Victor, New York Times, 2021 March 25
- "The Simpsons is stuck in an eternal 1990. Its Apu controversy reflects that." by Emily VanDerWerff, Vox, 2018 April 15
- "Simpsons actor Hank Azaria says he'll no longer voice Apu: 'We all agreed on it'" by Victoria Bekiempis, Guardian, 2020 Jan 18
- "Opinion: Hank Azaria apologized for playing Apu on ‘The Simpsons.’ I accept." by Mellini Kantayya, Washington Post, 2021 April 22
- "what Happened to British Culture when Alternative Comedy Went from Posh to Punk?" by Iain Ellis, PopMatters, 2018 April 19
- Alternative Comedy, entry at BFI online (screenonline.org.uk)
- "Haven't You Learned How To Take a Joke? The Comedy-OnCampus Debates" by Ian Ellis, PopMatters, 2018 Februrary 8
- "Absolutely Fabulous – Pour Me Another One to Celebrate Global Success Darling!", BBC Media Centre, 2017 February 20
- "The Cancel Culture Con" by Osita Nwanevu, TNR Soapbox, 2019 September 23
- "Remembering Hollywood's Hays Code, 40 Years On" by Bob Mondello, NPR, 2008 August 8
- "When “Pre-” Met “Code” — Eighty Years Ago Today" by Mike Mashon, Library of Congress, 2014 July 15
- "The Decline of Christendom in Western Europe, 1750–2000", Chapter 2: "The secularisation decade: what the 1960s have done to the study of religious history", Summary, by Callum G. Brown, Professor of Religious and Cultural History University of Strathclyde, Cambridge University Press, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511496783.003
- "When John Lennon’s ‘More Popular Than Jesus’ Controversy Turned Ugly" by Jordan Runtagh, Rolling Stone, 2018 July 29
- "Sinead O'Connor rips up photo of Pope on tv", UPI archives, 1992 October 5
- "Sinead's Perplexing Protest" by Megan Rosenfeld, Washington Post, 1992 October 6
- "Sleazy Sinead O'Connor Should Be Banned in the U.S.", Letters to the Editor, Bob Woodman, South Florida Sun-Sentinal, 1992 October 20
- "The Redemption of Sinead O'Connor" by Michael Agresta, Atlantic, 2012 October 3
- "Flashback: Sinead O’Connor Booed Offstage at Bob Dylan Celebration" by Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 2013 November 19
- "Flashback: The Dixie Chicks Are Ashamed of the President… Again" by Andrew Leahey, Rolling Stone, 2014 August 7
- "The Chicks Are Done Caring What People Think" by Amanda Hess, New York Times, 2020 July 8
- "American history: Hollywood 10", Britannica.com
- "Hollywood's "Red Scare" Spread Stigma by Association" by Stanford GSB staff, 2010 July 1
- "Hollywood owns up" by Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, 2002 Feb 15
- "Why was Charlie Chaplin banned from the US?", The Telegraph, 2016 September 19
- "Chaplin's "Limelight" is a Story of Healing" by Crosby Day, Orlando Sentinel, 1999 August 29
- ["TV STATION DROPS OLD CHAPLIN FILMS; Series Canceled on Protest of Catholic War Veterans, Who Accuse Comedian..."], New York Times, 1950 December 7
- The Weavers, artist biography, Allmusic.com
- "Pete Seeger's All-American Communism" by David A. Graham, Atlantic, 2014 January 29
- "Recalling Pete Seeger’s Controversial Performance on the Smothers Brothers Show 50 Years Ago" by Peter Dreier, Prospect.org, 2018 February 28
- "Folk Singers, Social Reform and the Red Scare", Library of Congress