Conservatives are falling into a Cancel Culture trap.
They understandably cheer when a celebrity speaks out against the phony, toxic trend. It happened a few weeks ago when Matthew McConaughey blasted Cancel Culture on a British talk show.
“Where the waterline is going to land on this freedom of speech, and what we allow and what we don’t and where this cancel culture goes…is a very interesting place that we’re engaged in right now as a society of trying to figure out, because we haven’t found the right spot,” continued the actor.
When [co-host Piers] Morgan suggested that British politics has become “so tribal now that consensus is getting buried in the mix,” McConaughey responded, “There’s no room for any consensus. You’ve got to have confrontation to have unity, I think we can all agree on that. That’s when the democracy works really well.”
Over the weekend, veteran actor Ethan Hawke shared similar sentiments. The “Tesla” star dug deep into what Cancel Culture means for artistic expression, one of many reasons artists should speak out against it.
What’s that great Mark Twain line? “The aim of art is to alleviate shame.” We’re in this period now when you can’t even write about bad behavior because it might seem like you’re condoning it. You have to be able to create a character who does things they wish they didn’t do. I went back and forth on it, because it’s just a petrifying time to speak about male sexuality. If you can’t shine a light into dark corners, the demons that live there will never go away.
He’s right. Hawke’s argument also flirts with Cancel Culture’s inherent insincerity. The next “John Wick” film will likely feature dozens, if not hundreds, of villains killed by its franchise hero.
No trial. No chance at retribution. Just a bullet in the brain or some other vital part of the body. And you won’t see a single hashtag campaign against the film or calls to cancel it.
If Keanu Reeves’ character misgenders a character, though, the woke mob will spring into action.
RELATED: Why Hasn’t Cancel Culture Come for Alec Baldwin?
Comments like these are important, to a degree. The more left-leaning artists speak out against Cancel Culture, the better. Most actors stay silent on the issue or actively promote woke rules. Others bow to the woke mob, like Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson, further emboldening it.
Yet Hawke and McConaughey’s comments are increasingly hollow given the current climate. The quotes will careen around social media and news sites for a day or two and then essentially vanish.
Nothing will be changed by them.
Meanwhile, people are losing their jobs for simply posting on free expression platforms like Gab and Parler. A sitting president got booted off of most major social media outlets while Hollywood heavy hitters cheered it on. Parler itself is still in limbo after Amazon, which attempted to silence a black filmmaker for sharing a different perspective on Black Lives Matter, crushed its service within a few days.
Twitter is waging war against conservatives but letting vile comments from the Left go unpunished.
Stars speaking out against Cancel Culture get a flood of free publicity, and then they go back to their day jobs. It isn’t so simple for others, though.
When stars get politically active you know it. They leverage interview after interview, Tweet after Tweet, toward the cause. They open up their wallets and purses, wide. It’s a non-stop flurry meant to change hearts, minds and even votes.
Will Hawke or McConaughey do anything of the kind? Might they actively seeking out conservative crew members for their next project? What about giving Roseanne Barr, permanently canceled for sending one racist Tweet, a cameo in their next feature?
Are they writing checks toward groups fighting for free speech, the all-American right that allows them to be rich, famous and Oscar worthy?
We can still applaud their statements while realizing it’s just another form of virtue signaling.
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