Let’s talk about this hullabaloo some people are calling ‘cancel culture’. I wrote a post a while back about the so-called cancel culture, and to me it’s a meaningless, made-up phrase, but since it’s being bandied about like a ping pong ball this week, let’s examine a couple of things, starting with the folks who are up in arms over Dr. Seuss.
On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which oversees the 20th-century children’s author’s estate, announced that it had decided to discontinue publication and licensing of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, saying, “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Though four of the six books are basically unknown and make up a fraction of the author’s oeuvre, Fox News and other conservative voices, as if on autopilot, are treating the decision as another example of “cancel culture.”
Note that it was not I, nor any other person the republicans like to call snowflakes and bleeding heart liberals who decided to discontinue the books … it was the author’s representatives, the owners of the books! And yet, I’ve seen story after story about how liberals are now canceling Dr. Seuss. For the record, Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote and illustrated more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. More than 60! That means, that even with 6 being taken out of publication, there are still at least 54 books to read to your children/grandchildren!
Now, about that hullaballoo. Times change, societies evolve, things that were widely used 50-100 years ago become obsolete. We evolve, we grow, we learn … well, some of us do anyway. And as we learn and grow, some things will inevitably go by the wayside. Terms and images that were once thought acceptable are no longer so, as we’ve learned that they are hurtful to others. This isn’t ‘cancel culture’ or anything like it, this is evolution, this is a society trying to be better than it once was.
You don’t still use grandma’s old wringer washing machine to do your laundry, do you? Or drive your grandfather’s old Model-T? The owners of the Dr. Seuss books evaluated and decided it was time to evolve, time to put racism and racist remarks in the past, to move forward in a more diverse, inclusive society. Anybody who is up in arms over this obviously doesn’t understand how the world works. And leave it to the likes of Fox News to play those ignorant people like fiddles, to pour fuel on a fire that didn’t even exist until Fox lit the match, and to find a way … any way … to blame those who are trying to put out the flames of bigotry in this nation.
I’ve heard those who call this ‘book banning’ and ‘censorship’ … it is neither. No library, religious group, school or government made the decision to stop publishing these books … the books’ owners made the decision, as was their right to do. Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Marco Rubio and others in government have erroneously made such ignorant remarks such as …
“First, they outlaw Dr. Seuss and now they want to tell us what to say.” – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
“When history looks back at this time it will be held up as an example of a depraved sociopolitical purge driven by hysteria and lunacy.” – Senator Marco Rubio
“While we’re able to joke about the absurdity of these things, tonight, each and every day Americans have to decide whether or not to self-censor, to self-cancel, to maybe not fly their America First flag in full but rather half mast. And I think that’s really the goal of the left, to cause us to be less expressive about our love for our country and our values.” – U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz
I’d like to think that with a pandemic that has swept across the nation for the past year giving us the highest death rate on the globe, voting rights on the chopping block, threats of violence by extremist racist groups, systemic racism in law enforcement, threats to our national security by domestic terrorists and more, our elected officials might have more serious things to spend their time on than being outraged because the owner of six books chooses to no longer publish them. I really resent paying these peoples’ salaries these days!
And then there’s the Mr. Potato Head ‘scandal’, also being called ‘cancel culture’. Hasbro, makers of the Potato Head, announced on Thursday that it would drop the “Mr.” from the brand’s name in a new playset to be released this fall, in order to be more inclusive and so all could feel “welcome in the Potato Head world.” The new sets are designed without the Mr. and Mrs. designations that will let kids create their own type of potato families, including two moms or two dads.
Naturally … sigh … the homophobic bigots went ballistic. The bottom line here is there’s no such thing as ‘cancel culture’, merely a natural evolution into what we hope will be a more inclusive, more compassionate world. People who spend time ruminating over these non-issues have too much time on their hands and too little maturity to find other things to think about.