The conundrum known as “cancel culture”

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

“Cancel culture” has dominated the social media landscape for years. A certain population of social media users pride themselves on their ability to dig up old tweets from celebrities and subsequently “cancel” them for past indiscretions. 

In the recent Dr. Seuss debacle, people have removed him from their reading list because of racist political cartoons and his how he treated his wife. Even products such as Aunt Jemima maple syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice are doing total rebrands due to the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer. 

Let’s get one thing clear first: Dr. Seuss is dead and has been since 1991. It’s not like he can lose any brand deals and opportunities because his past works have come to light. I really don’t get why people are in an uproar about the origin of his works, or him as a person. We all read The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and several other books he wrote. All of this information that we recently found out has already been out there for years.

As a Black person, it is a little disheartening to see how an author as notable as Dr. Seuss has these kinds of illustrations in his portfolio. But at the same time — not to make any excuses for him — these characters were acceptable during the time. Have you seen the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry episodes from that time? They’re filled with racist depictions and stereotypes of Black people and other people of color. 

“Cancel culture” has even brought to the forefront modern celebrities such as Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who uses his Twitter feed as a platform to speak out against cancel culture. His supporters often say that the billionaire is too smart to be canceled, that the rules don’t apply to him. 

This rhetoric has become common among conservitive figures such as President Donald Trump, political commentator Ben Shapiro and other well-known figures. Often people say there is a need to get over it because it either happened in the past or it wasn’t that bad to begin with. This happens even though it feels like they’re just getting themselves into trouble every chance they get. 

This idea of “cancel culture” is often entangled with political correctness culture as well, which has caused a rift in the comedy landscape. With TV shows such as Family Guy, South Park and Rick and Morty, people have begun to think that making jokes at a marginalized group’s expense is what comedy is. 

Comedy should be there to make everyone laugh. There are plenty of jokes that don’t make anyone the butt of the joke. If you’re afraid of what’s going to happen if you talk about your true feelings on something or tell a joke about something perceived as inappropriate, then you should take a look at yourself to see the issue.

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