Comedians are falling into three distinct camps when it comes to Cancel Culture.
- Some don’t address the subject at all. Perhaps they think it doesn’t apply to them, or they hope the woke mob won’t knock on their door for past or present jokes.
- A second group, think Chrissie Mayr, Tyler Fischer, Ryan Long and JP Sears, actively campaign against the censorious trend.
- A third sub-section suggests it’s a figment of our imagination.
The “Arrested Development” alum spoke on the subject with the far-Left news site Vox.com. The wide-ranging chat found the interviewer and Cross sharing their disgust for partisan satire (sans irony) and how comedy evolves over time.
Then the interview waded into the Cancel Culture debate. Cross, clearly recalling how Lenny Bruce suffered serial arrests for telling dirty jokes, suggested the cultural trend isn’t impacting comedians.
“That’s bulls***,” Cross says of the notion that some comedians can no longer find work.
If we think about it in less histrionic terminology, there’s certainly a reality now where if you say something and if you don’t apologize and you double down and then you triple down, then you’re going to have a segment of your fan base react. And you’re going to have lots of people who didn’t care about you in the first place doing that whole performative outrage thing. They’re just showing their weight as consumers. It’s not that different from people saying, “We’re going to boycott this thing because they advertise on Tucker Carlson and I don’t like what he said.”
He’s wrong, of course.
Many of those “outraged” by comedians aren’t actually fans of the performers in question. They likely wouldn’t buy his or her next comedy album or tour ticket.
They want them removed from the comedy scene or elsewhere. Period. Just ask Mayr, who said some comedians keep lists of stand-ups who support President Donald Trump.
Cross also blamed capitalism for comics who suffer shrinking fan bases. He’s not being forthcoming here, either. If a comedian gets next to zero press, though, or is shunned by Hollywood, Inc., for telling the wrong jokes, chances are his or her audience could shrink as a result.
So people aren’t getting canceled. They’re either getting their tickets refunded or trying to shame people [emphasis added] from going to see somebody’s live show. Who knows what kind of effect that’ll have? Probably not very much.
Has he asked any fellow comics about this? Does he approve of shaming comedians who tell jokes that offend very small group of people? Does he realize what it means if comedians fear offending this or that group? Doesn’t that diminish their creativity, their art?
“I don’t know anybody that’s not able to do standup anymore because they said something offensive,” he added, clearly unfamiliar with the name Roseanne Barr.
The sitcom legend shared a racially-charged Tweet about a former Obama administration official and found her career ripped out from under her. Barr apologized immediately and suggested she didn’t realize Valerie Jarrett, the target of her ugly Tweet, was black.
ABC took her iconic show away from her, and the millions it would still be making today from it. She hasn’t worked in traditional Hollywood since. She may never again.
Sounds like she got canceled, no? Did Cross miss that gargantuan news cycle?
Cross also conflates those who share racist and misogynistic jokes with those who challenge societal norms in their art. Dave Chappelle clearly doesn’t hate transgender people. His last special shared the warm bond he had with one trans comic, for example.
He also uses humor to explore elements of the trans community, something he is now under attack for expressing. He may never get out of the Cancel Culture shadow, which as of now has blocked his unnamed comedy documentary from landing distribution.
Plus, the insidious nature of Cancel Culture often can’t be pinned down. What about comics who actively self-censor to prevent their work from being attacked? The stars of Showtime’s “Desus & Mero” admit to doing just that.
They aren’t alone.
What if Cross came under attack for problematic jokes from his stint on “Arrested Development?” One of the show’s story arcs involved a cross-dressing Cross, a bit dubbed transphobic by a gay and lesbian publication at the time.
The show’s marketing team even leaned into that sentiment.
Are there other problematic jokes in his past? What if they “resurface,” especially if he ever expresses an opinion the woke mob loathes?
If that happens, chances are he’ll have an entirely different outlook on Cancel Culture. By then, though, it could be too late.