FREDDIE DEBOER: Do You Want Cancel Culture to Exist?

What I find more interesting is that this argument requires the very thing that it laments. That is, in order to make this argument, you need to have figures like Louis CK who escape/survive the consequences of public shaming, but simultaneously to assert that this is a bad thing. The immediate question for someone who expresses this point of view should be, “so you would prefer cancel culture exist, yes?” Because if it did, by their own contention, then Louis CK would not be playing Madison Square Garden, nor would other publicly-shamed individuals escape the consequences. (An implied consequence of this tweet, and arguments like it, is that public shaming should be permanently career-ending, which many people would take as a decent gloss on cancel culture.) And once you’ve established that the argument suggests that cancel culture would be a good thing, we’re free to debate it as a preferred state of affairs if not a current reality – at which point the whole “cancel culture doesn’t exist” complaint becomes moot. By wishing for it you’re making it arguable.

I do think that things like Louis CK getting back some of his career are indicative of a loosening of the strict social culture that flourished in the past half-decade or so.

But as Jim Treacher pointed out yesterday, Louis CK is only able to “get back some of his career” because he can afford to self-fund his relaunch: “When he wins an award because his work is still excellent, everybody gets embarrassed and quickly moves on. The entertainment industry has turned their backs on him, and it’s nobody’s fault but his own. But he can still stand on a stage and say words. All he needs is a microphone, a room, an audience, and someone to record it all. So he just did it himself.3 His comeback4 has been completely self-financed. He pays out of his own pocket to produce all the comedy specials he’s made since his cancellation, and he distributes them himself. He’s the one taking all the risk. And if he starts being bad at comedy, he’s the one who takes a loss.”