If you say or do obnoxious things, people may not like you. Funny that.
There seems to be a growing trend in America that people believe that they can say whatever they want, no matter how noxious, and people have to listen to it and moreover have to like it and agree with it. Anything less is tyranny.
The far-right is often caught in this trap - saying things like "Hitler wasn't so bad" or "the Holocaust was over-stated" and then they act all Pikachu-shocked-face when people turn away from them. Maybe this is a result of our "participation trophies" that were handed in out in 3rd grade, where Mrs. Beasley, our homeroom teacher told the kids that they all had to play fair, take turns, and be nice to one another - even bratty little Tucker Carlson.
The problem with that approach is that it removed consequences. People try to avoid people they don't like, whether it is the kid with bad B.O. or the class bully, or the gossipy girl who says horrible things - with a smile - about other people. Or maybe it is just a person who just doesn't click with you. Whatever the reason, you have a right of association - and disassociation - with people you don't like.
And because of that, people feel consequences for their actions. You act like a jerk, you'll end up alone. Maybe you'll figure it out and be less of a jerk. Or maybe you'll prefer to be alone. Either way, it works out.
With these "celebrities" it works the same way. A movie star says they admire Hitler - the movie studio cancels their contract. Funny thing - the studio has a clause in that contract that addresses this very scenario. It isn't their first merry-go-round. Movie stars and other celebrities have stepped in the dog-shit for ages and have had to face the consequences - fair or not - for their actions.
Back in the early days of Hollywood, there were "sex scandals" where actors would be found to be in adulterous trysts or at orgies or in the closet with another actor. The studio had a "morals clause" in their contract - they weren't obligated to pay an actor who besmirched the studio's good name. Now, since then, what constitutes "besmirched" has changed. No doubt sex scandals are no longer a reason to cancel an actor's contract. But admiring Nazis or calling for civil war are still on the no-fly list.
You may recall back in the 1950's, a lot of Hollywood actors, directors, and writers were "blacklisted" because of the "Red Scare". And maybe that wasn't fair - people joined the "Communist Party" or attended a meeting or two in the 1930's when it seem that Capitalism was on its last legs. Fast-forward two decades and Capitalism seems pretty swell, but a witch-hunt for "Commies" has commenced.
The Movie Studios couldn't be seen as hiring actual Communists - even if some of those on the "Black List" were just folks who refused to testify and/or refused to renounce their prior membership in the Communist Party as an adolescent dallying. But the studios had no choice - they would face more pressure from the public if they didn't fire those who were deemed damaged goods. Oddly enough, many of those "black listed" found work under other names (as writers or directors). Actors had a harder time of it, but by the mid-1960's most people had forgotten all about it. For some actors, however, it was the end of their careers.
Funny thing, the people today complaining about "cancel culture" would likely have no problem with "Communists" losing their jobs back then - or even today! Cancel for thee, not for me! You can see how "deep" their opinions go.
Today it is the same yet different. People say horrible things - or do horrible things - and the companies that sponsor them are under pressure. And often - like with the "Red Scare" - people are called into account for things they did decades ago, in an era where legal and social standards were different.
Take Bill Cosby for example. What he did over the years (and often decade ago) would have been excused as "boys being boys" in another era - an era before "no means no" and little understanding of what "consent" means. You can't blame film studios, comedy clubs, and television networks from distancing themselves from a rapist. And no, the fact that one of his convictions was overturned on a technicality doesn't make him "innocent" - he admitted to the crime in a deposition!
It also illustrates how social values were different in that era - we had the "sexual revolution" but no one won, except perhaps the men, who now could have consequences-free sex, while women were still held to 1950's moral standards. But over the years, we've reconsidered a lot of what we thought was "progress" and realized that despite the interesting articles, Playboy magazine really didn't advance the cause of women so much as it did men. And men will behave badly if permitted to do so.
With other "Celebrities" the facts are muddier. Al Franken apparently grabbed a sleeping woman's breasts in a photo gag in an Air Force plane - and there are other allegations of playing grabby as well. I am not trying to diminish those claims, of course, but they are not at the same level as rape. I have a friend who was brutally raped at knifepoint when she was 13 years old. Comparing that to a butt-grab is kind of an insult to rape victims.
But yes, it raises the issue - where do you draw the line? When does playful flirting cross over into uncomfortable territory? And what is deemed egregious enough to end a career? What is interesting about the Franken situation is that Democrats had to do a lot of hand-wringing, and then rowed Franken out to the middle of the lake - like an old farm dog - and tossed him over the side with a stone tied around his neck. Meanwhile, a Republican accused of soliciting sex with minors gets to keep his job - because his party doesn't play the emotional touchy-feely game at all - just the actual touching, and feeling, and...
People are today making a big deal about Louis "CK" and his "comeback" by selling out Carnegie Hall. I am not sure that is so much a rehabilitation than it is just a few fans who are willing to overlook his transgressions. We're talking about a venue of 21,000 seats in a city of eight million people. And yea, some of his stuff is funny - some of it not. I am not sure where he is going with making fun of teenagers who were shot at Stoneman Douglas High School. I mean, I get it, that was sort of his shtick, going after "taboo" topics. But some of his stuff is just unfunny - and the first rule of comedy is to be funny.
Sadly, it seems that you can be successful in "comedy" these days not by telling jokes, but by seeking "claughter" - people applauding your "brave" pronouncements more than your jokes. We were at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and they had the Gatlin Brothers as de facto hosts for the evening. I think one of them has had a stroke, because the other did all the talking - too much of it, in fact. Instead of playing music, he felt he had to riff on political topics, proclaiming "They'll never cancel me!" I would hate to break it to him, but no one really gives a shit about him enough to "cancel" him - and he doesn't have any major endorsements or contracts what would in jeopardy if he was.
But hey, never pass up a chance to play "victim" - right? And in the same breath decry "victim culture."
But you see this with a lot of right-wing entertainers. Jeff Dunham used to be pretty funny, even if some of his puppets were a bit across the line. A white guy doing a vent act with a black puppet (who is dressed as a pimp, no less) is, yes, a little bit racist. Or maybe a whole lot racist. But he had good jokes with his bits. Today? I tried to watch his latest show it was just a lot of "Let's go Brandon!" kind of nonsense, which the white-haired audience lapped up. Feed 'em the red meat and maybe they won't notice the jokes aren't landing.
And no, no one is trying to "cancel" Jeff Dunham, either. He just isn't that important. That being said, I wouldn't pay money to see him, either. I saw him back in the day at Oshkosh in the "theater in the woods" where Bill Lear's daughter Shanda (I kid you not) performed. She has quite a nice voice, too. He was funny back then - but I never got the impression his comedy was politcal then, either. People change, I guess, or he is going where the money is - Claughter.
What the people who cry "Cancel Culture" fail to appreciate is that commercial interests have to sell products that appeal to the broadest customer base possible. If you target your product at the far-left or far-right, you limit your product appeal. If you make your product synonymous with odious political thought, you may turn off not only people offended by those politics, but sympathizers to those targeted, as well.
Ford, for example, has done a good job of distancing itself (and burying the connection) of Henry Ford's obsession with antisemitism. There is a reason Jews bought Chrysler's - back in the day at least. Similarly, Volkswagen has tried to squash its Hitler connection - as Mercedes and BMW have had to do as well. And given enough time, such efforts can work - provided you don't double-down your bet by saying, "Well, Hitler built the Autobahn's so he wasn't all that bad!" You can't equivocate your apology.
And for the most part, that has worked. My Polish friends - born in a Nazi work camp - drive a Mercedes and a Porsche. Time heals all wounds, provided you don't keep picking at them and trying to open them up again and again and rub salt in them.
Sadly, it seems some folks take the opposite tack - they argue that "cancel culture" was unfair (wah!) to them and that they are victims - even as they decry the "victim mentality." In their minds, they should be allowed to say odious things with no consequences. Sponsors should be forced to sponsor them, audiences should be forced to attend and forced to pay for tickets and forced to buy sponsor's products. Mypillows for everyone - by law!
The reality is, no one has "canceled" them at all. They canceled themselves and have to face consequences of their actions. Over time, people may forgive and forget - depending on the nature of the offense and the sincerity of the apology. While some may even forgive mass-murderers, most folks will not. And insincere apologies along the lines of, "I am sorry that some took offense at what I said," just don't cut it.
The Louis CK thing is weird. This is a guy who made a career out of telling jokes about how he exposes his tiny penis to unwilling audiences of women. We were shocked to find out later on this was exactly what he did. I thought some of this comedy was funny, but quite frankly his television show fell flat (but then again, most sitcoms are stupid to begin with - who watches that shit?). It may be, as some have said, that in order to be a comedian, you have to be somewhat mentally ill.
But quite frankly, comedians in general, are highly over-rated. Some folks will claim that such-and-such a comedian is the "greatest of all time" or that some misunderstood comedian is a "comedian's comedian" and only fellow comedians would "get" his jokes. For example, many worship at the dead feet of George Carlin. And yea, he had some funny bits. But you know something? Seven dirty words didn't age well - it isn't funny 50 years later. We realize in retrospect that it wasn't liberating humor - just diminishing. Yes, we can all say vulgar words now - where did that get us? And his sermonizing and better-than-thou attitude gets a little grating at time. If only George Carlin could be appointed dictator for life! Then everything would be swell. That's dangerous thinking.
Then there are weird comedians like Any Kaufman whose "foreign man" character on Taxi was not only unfunny, but a cheap stereotype of Slavic peoples. But, we were told, he was a comedy genius, what with serving milk-and-cookies to his audiences, or his "Tony Clifton" alter-ego - who was just annoying. And the wrestling women bit? Not exactly gut-busting humor. Yet we are told, in somber tones, by "serious" comedians (an oxymoron if there ever was) that he was a "genius" and only fellow comedians really "got" him.
And if he had not died (and he did die, let's not go down that road!) I am not sure he would be seen as "funny" today. Even if it was just an "act" his misogynist "wrestling women" bits and his "foreign man" act would be seen as, well, unseemly, by today's standards. And maybe that is where this "cancel culture" seems unfair to some folks. Rock and Roll stars, back in the 1960's and 1970's attracted young groupies - often aged 16 or so, the age of consent in that era. Today? That is viewed as sexual predation. Times change and values change. And quite frankly, if you were a Rock and Roll star in the 1960's or 1970's your career is over, anyway, if you are not already dead.
Funny thing - maybe 20-something rock stars shouldn't be banging 16-year-old girls in the back of the band bus? Just a thought.
The sad part of all this is that some folks seem to believe that bad behavior should not only be excused, but celebrated. Celebrated by people who call themselves "involuntary celibates." To them, Louis CK's "triumphant return" is a slap in the face of the "PC Crowd" and will show them that it's perfectly OK to show your wienie to people whenever you feel like it. I am not so sure that is the case.
I am sure that Louis CK will fill comedy clubs and even theaters. Whether he does another Netflix comedy special remains to be seen. The bottom line is, of course, you have to be funny. Claughter only gets you so far, with certain demographic groups. You can't just go up on stage and say, "Let's go Brandon! Amirite or what? Ha-ha!" and expect the audience to explode in laughter and applause. You gotta have more than that.
It is the same problem Carlin had toward the end - where his comedy shows seemed more like lectures than entertainment. Bill Maher suffers from the same problem - if only the world was according to Maher! One does tire of the lecture.
Of course, I suffer from the same problem - but no one listens to me. And I don't live in fear of losing a sponsorship, either. I am truly free. In a way I feel sorry for those "celebrities" - they cannot live a normal life and often their lives are tragic as a result. But we all make choices, right?
And when you choose to walk away from million-dollar endorsement deals or television shows because you can't keep your mouth shut about Hitler, well, I have no sympathy for you whatsoever.