Comedians Jimmy Carr and Dave Chapelle, and the world’s most popular podcaster, Joe Rogan, have all been chased by the mob wielding their digital pitchforks lately. Yet none of the three have been silenced for their jokes or controversial views. Has cancel culture itself finally been cancelled?
The digital screams are no less shrill, the demand that ‘the guilty’ be hurled forever into the abyss no less intractable, and yet… nobody has been cancelled.
It seems it’s all over for the mob; the keyboard warriors of Twitter and Facebook, and other social media outlets, are becoming ever more impotent: cancel culture has itself been cancelled.
And about time, too.
Take, for example, comedian Jimmy Carr. On Saturday night, hundreds of paying customers watched his show at a theatre in a seaside town in the north east of England. Most of them laughed at his jokes, bad taste or not.
He arrived at the show in big trouble over a sick joke about Nazis murdering Travellers on his Netflix show ‘His Dark Material’. The clue to the shade of the content is in the title, and Carr himself must be laughing right now, because he was clearly trying to rouse the mob in the first place.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Look at that, I've already upset the non-binary community. That has to be a f**king record,” he told his ‘Terribly Funny Show’ audience.
"We are speaking, my friends, in the last chance saloon. What I am saying on stage this evening is barely acceptable now. In ten years, f**king forget about it. You are going to be able to tell your grandchildren about seeing this show tonight. You will say ‘I saw a man and he stood on a stage and he made light of serious issues. We used to call them jokes and people would laugh.’
“I am going to get cancelled, that's the bad news. The good news is I am going down swinging. The joke that ends my career, it's already out there.”
Nah, I don’t think so.
Being chased by the woke mob is now a great way to sell tickets and get clicks, and promote podcasts and Netflix specials. It’s having precisely the opposite effect from what the perpetually offended had hoped to achieve.
It’s great publicity. Monty Python star John Cleese is even working on a documentary about it all called ‘Cancel Me’, to try and find out why the ‘Woke Generation’ can’t take a joke. The comic actor himself saw a classic episode of his ‘Fawlty Towers’ series removed – and later reinstated, but slapped with a ‘health warning’ – from a BBC-owned streaming service due to “racial slurs.”
Whereas in the past, you could expect the BBC, Disney, and other big broadcasters to basically wilt as the mob rattled their gates, it seems new players such as Netflix and Spotify, well, have more balls – or at least know where their money is.
Podcaster Joe Rogan, who has a $100 million deal with Spotify for the exclusive rights to his show, has faced a barrage of ‘bad’ press in recent weeks. Musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell demanded their music be removed from Spotify because Rogan had aired the views of ‘anti-vaxxers’. And then a mash-up video of him using the N-word and bad taste racial connections to Planet of the Apes emerged, for which he immediately apologised. He also voluntarily removed some of his ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ episodes.
And Spotify’s reaction? It seems to have absolutely no intention of cancelling its most successful podcast. CEO Daniel Ek said: “While I strongly condemn what Joe has said ... I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”
Perhaps the biggest proof that the tide really is turning against the woke mob is comedian Dave Chappelle. His Netflix special ‘The Closer’ was launched way back in October to a huge – and hugely predictable – outcry about his supposed transphobic views. A trans Netflix employee even resigned last week over continuing blowback within the streaming giant.
Guess what, though? That was over four months ago, and ‘The Closer’ is still up there on Netflix if you want to watch it. Doubtless loads of people who had never even heard of Dave Chappelle now know just how funny the guy truly is.
Jimmy Carr’s ‘controversial’ new show, I bet, is also about to do great business and make him a more global name thanks to the reaction of the perpetually outraged and the publicity that followed.
And what does it even mean to be ‘cancelled’ anyway? Comedian Louis CK was ‘cancelled’ five years ago following a series of sexual misconduct allegations… or was he? He’s currently on tour in the US and will even perform in Israel and across Europe in the next month or so.
‘Cancel culture’ no longer exists, if, indeed, it ever truly did; if the talent is good enough, all the mob can ever really do is get them ‘postponed’ for a while. And that’s not nearly as sexy.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.