The culture war has normalized terms that those not involved in the chaos of social media luckily don’t comprehend. You see these words often, especially in the books atop the New York Times’ bestseller list: Karen, anti-racist, non-binary, equity, and white fragility. Not included among them is the semi-definable word uncancelable.
Uncancelable (n.): someone who won’t succumb to cancel culture.
Sadly, few targets have stood up to the wrath of the outrage mob, a loathsome group with an unhealthy interest in other people’s careers. So cancel culture has succeeded in taking over industries with the mere threat of public destruction. The leaders of cancel culture — who often remain faceless and nameless to protect their own identities — have strategically picked targets that will likely crumble quickly. And they do so with a smug sneer.
However, such cancelors — a term purposely not yet normalized — have recently begun to overplay their hand, as so often happens after a series of uncontested victories.
Over the past month, these barbarians have focused on more formidable opponents, those whose scalps would make valuable trophies but whose money and influence make them more difficult to wound. They have gone after Dave Chappelle for jokes he makes in his Netflix special The Closer, Tucker Carlson for the Fox Nation docu-series Patriot Purge about federal government involvement in Jan. 6, and now Aaron Rodgers for the crime of misleading the media about his vaccination status.
The results are rather telling. Each target has survived, and each has done so more easily than the guy before him.
First, Netflix stood behind Chappelle and ignored a group of marching activists led by a random bigoted racist employed outside the company. Then, Fox News aired Carlson’s special, regardless of the outrage about it before it premiered, and continues to promote the special on Carlson’s primetime television program. Finally, State Farm announced it would continue its business relationship with Rodgers, despite pressure from agitating sports media figures like NBC football reporter Mike Florio.
Netflix and Chappelle, Fox News and Tucker Carlson, and State Farm and Aaron Rodgers all miraculously weathered the ambush with hardly an effort. What’s happening here is clear and encouraging.
It took the country’s top comedian, top cable news host, and top professional football player for signature brands to realize what truck drivers in Montana have known from the start: progressive radicals are wistfully mediocre and overhyped. They’re an army with few bullets. If they shoot and miss, they pack up and run like wounded gangbangers.
Netflix, Fox News, and State Farm revealed the shallowness of the highly-promoted blue-check attacks by merely not complying with their commands. Think about the potential, even probable, trickle-down effect of this change in approach.
Netflix created a blueprint for other services to follow. Corporate sponsors no longer have to cower in fear whenever a comedian dares to perform a comedy act. With minimal effort, Netflix weathered 36 hours’ worth of attacks from Twitter users — and then it added 4.4 million new subscribers while its competitor, Disney+, failed to meet quarterly expectations.
Similarly, Aaron Rodgers and State Farm created a cushion where other athletes with dissenting worldviews can land. State Farm demonstrated to other sponsors that a simple PR statement can sufficiently end mass calls for boycotts:
“We don’t support some of the statements that [Rodgers] has made, but we respect his right to have his own personal point of view. We recognize our customers, employees, agents and brand ambassadors come from all walks of life, with differing viewpoints on many issues.”
In two sentences, State Farm affirms Rodgers’ right to free speech and acknowledges that insurance customers have various opinions on a variety of issues. State Farm has effectively stood up for Aaron Rodgers and its customer base at the same time.
Finally, Tucker Carlson has proven that as long as your media bosses don’t attend the same Christmas parties as Gayle King, you can still ask questions and challenge the establishment — even on the sacrosanct topic of Jan. 6. Fox Nation aired Patriot Purge earlier this month, and Carlson still leads cable news in total viewership today.
Nothing has happened to any of them. Every hit piece, quote tweet, and queen-slaying has been ineffective.
That’s because the entire cancel culture movement relies on the cowardice of corporate leaders. Woke radicals make up less than 10% of the electorate and have no appreciable connection with the working class. So they, therefore, lack the reach to successfully influence corporate bosses without their cooperation.
Cancel culture is a product of compliance — that’s its only weapon. Now that targets have pulled back the curtain, we can see that the great and powerful Wizard of Woke is hardly great and powerful.
And the more people push back, the more cancel culture will melt.
Cancel culture was always going to self-destruct because of the fragile groundwork laid by its own generals, and now it has happened because an overachieving mob of middleweights got greedy. The coronavirus, George Floyd’s death, and Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat prematurely advanced the social justice takeover, and the group’s most prominent members suddenly had to handle a newfound level of warfare they weren’t ready to face.
Cancel culture as an idea won’t go away entirely because it’s useful to powerful and dangerous people. However, if the group of uncancelables can grow, then cancel culture could fade into a passing idea that no longer poses a threat.